Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 3/24/00
1997 (2000) - Columbia
review by Brad Pilcher of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras):
Specs and Features
110 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical
trailers for Bandits,
Run Lola Run,
Spice World and
Still Crazy, music videos for
Puppet and Catch
Me by the Bandits, commentary by director Katja Von
Garnier, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters),
languages: German (DD 5.1 and DD 2.0), subtitles: English, French
and Spanish, Closed Captioned
wanted to be famous ... they never knew they'd be wanted!"
What we have here, is what we call MTV-style editing. It involves
non-traditional, often mobile, camera angles with fast cutting and
exaggerated, decidedly unnatural colors. In music videos, it works.
In films, it sometimes works. The problem is not in the style
itself, but in the fact that some directors seem hell-bent on using
it for its own sake. Directors like Spike Jonze know how to use the
style effectively. But others, they just have no clue.
So here is the newest entry into that genre: Bandits,
the 1997 German import. The film follows the exploits of a four-girl
rock band. This particular band just happens to be in prison, but
following a convenient escape, they become a famous fugitive group
with soaring record sales and the police on their tail. There's
nothing like getting a high profile just as you're attempting to
elude the police. Sounds interesting, but is it a good movie? Well,
The problem lies in two things. First, we have an absolutely
ludicrous series of events. To start with, the girls are taken to a
police ball to play a few songs. OK, sure... that's plausible
enough. They escape. We're good so far. So now, all they have to do
is lay low for a few days until their boat sails, taking them to
freedom. What do the girls do? They choose to play impromptu gigs in
a local bar (thus drawing the attention of police). They sign
autographs for adoring fans in the middle of a traffic jam (thus
drawing the attention of police). And then they run up a mile-high
hotel bill complete with traceable long-distance phone calls (thus
drawing the attention of police). Do you see a trend developing
here? What's worse, is that these attention-getting stunts make
little sense and serve only to set up those mini-music videos, where
the MTV-style editing can go crazy.
That's the second problem. The editing went absolutely gonzo!
Overall, the cinematography and editing are well done, but then the
movie feels the need to dive into self-indulgence with
hyper-choreographed sex scenes and insane musical performances from
a band that is supposed to be on the run. Does it work? Somewhat,
but it's also horribly self-serving. There is very little reason for
these types of scenes to even be in the movie. A more appropriate
example of MTV-style editing can be found in another German export
Run Lola Run.
On the flip side (i.e. video, audio, extras) the disc is good. The
video quality is solid in anamorphic widescreen, with only light
grain and hardly any artifacting. And the disc's sound is very good.
You're treated to the German language track (in both 5.1 and 2.0
Dolby Digital) as well as an English commentary track with the
director. There is no pure English language track, so if you don't
like subtitles, I'd suggest you learn German. The sound field is
encompassing on the 5.1 track and is just OK on the 2.0 mix. Spatial
effects are evident, which is all you can ask for considering the
This disc is also nicely adorned with supplements. There are four
different trailers, for this film as well as Run
Lola Run, Spice World
and Still Crazy. There are
also two music videos from the movie's namesake band. But the
director's commentary is still the best feature. Katja von Garnier
is insightful, without ever making this commentary extraordinary.
She does her job, and that is to give us little morsels of
behind-the-scenes knowledge here and there, all the while enhancing
the enjoyment of the movie.
Bandits was a big hit in
Europe, and now it's here in Region 1 in grand style. However, the
film still suffers from periodic bouts of self-indulgent editing and
completely illogical plot sequences. Still, the acting and character
interplay is top-notch and this film is definitely worth having, if
for no other reason than to broaden your film horizons.