Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Episode Two (12 Monkeys / 1408)

12 Monkeys (1995)

Director: Terry Gilliam
Writers: Chris Marker (film La Jetée), David Webb Peoples (screenplay), and Janet Peoples (screenplay)
Stars: Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe and Brad Pitt

Great performances by Willis and Pitt, combined with unsettling, surreal direction from Gilliam carry a solid story to a point where it can at least flirt with greatness. The first half is far more enthralling than the second, as you are consistently questioning whether Cole is truly crazy or not (and you get more of Pitt's insanity). I feel that the second half of the film suffers as more and more evidence mounts to support the time travel story and the ending becomes clear too soon. It would have been a bit more entertaining and exciting if they had toned down the foreshadowing a bit and maybe kept it a touch more ambiguous as to whether the time travel was real or not. Still a pretty awesome ride.

Score: 8 / 10

1408 (2007)

Director: Mikael Håfström
Writers: Matt Greenberg (screenplay), Scott Alexander (screenplay), Larry Karaszewski (screenplay) and Stephen King (short story)
Stars: John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson and Mary McCormack

Cusack is solid and the movie starts out strong with a nice bit of ominous exposition about the room delivered by Samuel L. Jackson. The atmosphere and early scares are pretty good; however, the intensity never quite ramps up to a point where you feel sure the the room should utterly break the main character. After a strong start, the back half is just a bit disappointing in this regard. Still, nothing is particularly "bad" - so, at worst, this still remains a perfectly serviceable psychological horror/thriller.

Score: 4 / 10


  1. I think I would have given 12 Monkeys a 9 or 10. It's one of my favorite movies ever.

  2. As I said in my post, I absolutely love the first half - if the movie were able to maintain the quality of the first 45 minutes throughout its entire length, it would be a "9" and perhaps even have an outside shot at scoring a "10." However, it sets up the "is he crazy or not?" question very well in the first half, but offers little payoff by dropping too many clues that he isn't. I think the dream foreshadowing is done a bit too much and reduces the impact of the finale. Finally, the fact that they were on the wrong trail (not by much, but still) throughout the vast majority of a time travel story lessens the importance of most of the plot that we were shown before the climax. All that said... I still scored it an "8," which is a hearty recommendation under my current guidelines. It's a very, very good movie.