Release Date(s)1981 (August 26, 2013)
Studio(s)HandMade Films (Arrow Video UK)
- Film/Program Grade: A
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: A-
[Editor’s Note: This is a REGION B Blu-ray. You need an all-region Blu-ray player and display equipment compatible with PAL standard definition content to view it properly.]
This review is going to be a brief one. I’m not going to focus on the particulars of the film itself as I’ve recently turned in a review of Criterion’s release of Time Bandits on Blu-ray. So I’ll refer you to that if you’d like to hear my thoughts on the film itself. I’ll also suggest checking out the supplemental section of that review, as I went over all the extras from the various releases of the film in detail (if you’re curious about what’s not on the release I’m covering today).
Comparing the image quality of the Criterion release of Time Bandits to the Arrow Video release, the two are virtually identical when it comes to fine detail, as they are both sourced from the same 2K transfer. However, the two main differences are that the Arrow Video release has an ever so slightly warmer color palette and also a marginally higher contrast. For both releases, the grain structure is intact with an abundance of foreground and background details, the color palette contains very strong hues with deep black levels, and there are no signs of digital tweaking to be found anywhere. As both presentations were approved by Terry Gilliam himself, it’s simply a matter of personal preference which you like best. For the audio selection, there are two tracks to choose from: English 5.1 DTS-HD and English 2.0 LPCM. On both tracks, dialogue is always clean and clear. When it comes to the depth and dynamics, that’s where the tracks differ. Whereas the 5.1 track seems to artificially create some surround moments with the sound effects and score, the 2.0 track is more natural. Again, it’s a matter of preference, but I do prefer the 2.0 track over the 5.1. It’s a film that doesn’t necessarily need the extra sound space, but to each their own. There are also subtitles in English for those who might need them.
For the extras, Arrow Video has gone to the trouble of creating some new material. There are several interviews, including Chasing Time Bandits with director Terry Gilliam, Writing the Film that Dares Not Speak Its Name with actor Michael Palin, The Effects of Time Bandits with actor Kent Houston, Playing Evil with actor David Warner, The Costumes of Time Bandits with costume designer James Acheson, and The Look of Time Bandits with production designer Milly Burns. There’s also From Script to Screen, an animated featurette with Milly Burns, a restoration demonstration, the film’s original theatrical trailer, and a 24-page insert booklet with an essay on the film by critic James Oliver. Finally, this release can be purchased in Steelbook packaging if you’re so inclined.
No matter which version of the film you pick up, Time Bandits is a worthy addition to your collection. It’s true that no release of the film is definitive, but none are ever not worth your time, including this one.
- Tim Salmons