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12 Monkeys Movie Review Essay Sample

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12 Monkeys Movie Review Essay Sample

12 Monkey’s, directed by Terry Gilliam, stars Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe, and Brad Pitt. This movie is a wonderful science fiction film wrapped around time travel. The theme of the movie has to do with society’s perception of insanity. Throughout the film the viewer is plagued with questions of whether or not the main character, James Cole (Bruce Willis) is actually from the future or perhaps is just insane and suffering from delusions. This theme is thrown in with an amazing plot of time travel. The beginning of the movie starts off with James as a boy and he witnesses a man get shot to death in an airport.

Throughout the movie James re-lives this experience over and over in his dreams. We then move to the present where James is in an underground prison and is selected to travel back in time and gather information on a virus that was unleashed when he was just a little boy. The virus killed over 6 billion people and only 1% of the worlds population survived underground. He’s sent back to try and find out about the army of the twelve monkeys, which is supposedly the organization that released the virus, but ends up in 1990 instead of the target time, 1996.

Cole is put into a mental hospital where he meets a psychiatrist named Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe). He also meets one of the patients, Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), who we later discover to be the leader of the twelve monkeys. He’s then correctly sent to 1996 where he again meets Dr. Railly and starts to find information about the army of the twelve monkeys while being pursued by the police for kidnapping her. Kathryn starts to tell him that he’s only having delusions and that all of this is not real. James begins to actually believe this himself and tells her he wants to turn himself in so he can get better.

But it’s at this point she discovers he was actually telling the truth and she quickly tries to tell him he’s right and they have to find out what the army of the twelve monkeys is. They quickly realise that the army of the twelve monkeys actually has nothing to do with the virus and they find out who actually has it. Cole calls a voice mail service, which contacts the scientists in the future, and tells them it had nothing to do with the twelve monkeys. They send back one of Cole’s friends who gives him a gun.

James then spots the man with the virus and runs through the metal detector, drawing his gun. As he points it at the virus carrier James is shot in the back by police officers. We then see a little boy standing near him watching in horror as he sees his older self get shot down. The man with the virus escapes but on the plane we see the scientist from the future sitting next to him. Personally I loved this movie. My favorite character would have to be Jeffrey Goines. Brad Pitt did an amazing job playing the role. More amazing than I would have expected from him.

Not only Brad Pitt did a remarkable job but all the rest of the actors were also very convincing. Bruce Willis was definitely the most convincing of them all. He really played his character well. I didn’t see one bad thing about the acting. It was all very believable and real. Gilliam really did a good job directing this movie. Every detail was well done. My favorite scene would have to be when Goines is helping Cole escape from the mental institution. When he’s jumping around yelling and all the mental patients are screaming and yelling. It was quite humorous.

The music was good and perfectly reflected the atmosphere. I didn’t even realise there was music, and completely forgot to pay attention to it because it was so well implemented. After a second viewing I realised this and they really did use the music perfectly. You’d have that creepy kind of music in creepy situations and then whenever there would be something about the army of the twelve monkeys there would be this circus music. It was all very well done. This movie is mainly about time travel and the problems it faces, but the film also brings up a very interested question.

How do we judge who’s insane and who is not? Towards the end of the movie the film suggests that James Cole is in fact sane but throughout the movie we’re forced to wonder whether he’s crazy. Like the strange voice he keeps hearing over and over. At different times during to movie Cole hears this voice. We never do find out who it is. This must have been put into the movie to emphasize that Cole isn’t necessarily sane, and to make the viewers wonder about this. Cole even gets put into a mental institution.

With this example we can began to wonder that if a sane person could mistakenly be put into a mental institution simply because their frame of mind is so much different than what’s expected, then maybe people who are considered insane aren’t that insane after all. Perhaps their minds are just so much more different or advanced they don’t function the same as the average person. This movie has a wonderful approach towards time travel. In the beginning Cole repeats more than once that changing the past is not what he’s trying to do because the past has already happened so any attempts to change it would fail.

But then at the end Jose gives him a gun and he tries to shoot the virus carrier. He tries to change the past by killing the man who would unleash the virus. He does this because he doesn’t want the future to happen, he wants to live in the past where he has Kathryn – and who he has fallen in love with. This love for Kathryn and the constant jumps between time periods must have adversely affected his decision making capabilities. So then we see the events unfold. We see what has been dubbed a “casual time loop” (Riggs 58-64).

It’s not an extreme time loops but it is still there. At the end of the movie when Cole goes to shoot the virus carrier he remembers seeing this as a little boy which means it actually happened in that way. His whole life he is plagued by the memory of a man dying before his very eyes. Then he travels back in time only to die and fall in front of his younger self who is then traumatized for the rest of his life. So we see that in trying to change the past the only thing he did was lead right into what was unavoidable.

I really enjoyed watching this film. The best part about it was the lead up to the ending where it loops back to how it all started. The only things that can be considered bad aren’t even that bad they’re just little cliffhangers that make you wonder. Like the voice that Cole kept hearing. Who was that? And during the movie I saw the guard from the beginning twice in different locations watching James. During the second time when I saw the guard you can hear on the intercom announcing flights it said “Volunteers boarding flight . . .

” I have no idea why these things are there except to further make the viewer wonder if James is insane. Another thing that puzzled me is why Kathryn keeps saying she’s seen James somewhere. She says over and over that she recognizes him. Then when they put on the disguises she says “This is how I remember you. ” So she remembers him from the dying scene but I don’t understand how this is possible. What also puzzles me is when they’re walking out of abandoned building where James killed the thug there is a medieval looking guy preaching on the street who says “Hey! You’re one of us!

” I don’t know where that came from or why it is significant all I can think of is that it was another time traveler who abandoned his mission. The last thing is the very last scene with the virus carrier on the airplane. Beside him we see the woman scientist from the future. She calls herself “Jones” and says she’s in “insurance. ” I don’t really know but what I would like to think is that this is the scientist come back from the future as sort of a backup plan to obtain the virus in its pure form. I would definitely recommend that any science fiction fan, or just someone who enjoys thinking, watch this movie.

A perfect example of this movie would be another film called K-Pax which has a remarkable thematic resemblance to the 12 Monkeys but has to do with space travel rather than time travel. Anyone who has seen the movie 12 Monkeys and thoroughly enjoyed it would definitely love K-Pax. Overall I would give this movie 9 out of 10 because it was well crafted in every area. Very good movie and worth every second of film.

Works Cited

Riggs, Peter J. “The Principal Paradox of Time Travel” Ratio Vol. 10 Issue 1 (Apr 1997): 48(17p). EBSCOhost: Acedemic Search Premier.

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