Terry Gilliam’s mind-bending science fiction tale has never looked better — and we have the screenshots to prove it.
This article contains several comparisons which contrast the older Universal Blu-ray transfer with the new Arrow restoration. The frames aren’t necessarily exact matches, but should give a solid indication of the visual differences.
Out today, Arrow Video’s new release of 12 Monkeys features a new 4K restoration from the original negative, approved by director Terry Gilliam.
Usually when inspecting screen comparisons of different transfers, there’s some give and take between them. But Arrow’s new restoration is an absolutely stunning upgrade in every meaningful way. Sharpness, colors, and brightness all look much appreciably better. Compared directly, the older transfer looks blurry and has an overall pinkness to its tone, while the newer one exhibits fine grain, deeper colors, and a crisp quality. Given how visual Gilliam’s style is, this is a major event, giving one of his best and most ambitious films its most stunning home video presentation ever.
From the very jump, we can see a huge uptick in both clarity and color representation in the image above. In the detail of the corridor and of the hazard suit, it’s immediately apparent that this is a far more intricate visual standard. This shot is also slightly reframed; on the prior disc this segment of the film had a slight pillarbox for some reason.
The next shot shows both a pronounced difference in brightness and color depth, as well as mitigation of the pink bias.
Yo dawg, I heard you like Dutch angles.
Check out the difference in clarity in Bruce’s hair below. No comparison.
Beautiful grain and colors bring new life to Madeleine Stowe’s visage.
Note the deeper red color on the stencil art below.
The soft focus of this final shot makes it easier to note a couple of things — the newer transfer has terrific grain structure, and the older one exhibits some noisy macroblocking.
Like I said, it’s no contest. This new transfer is stunning, leaving the old one in the dust. For fans of the film, this is a must-have upgrade.
In addition to the new transfer, Arrow’s disc has a ton of bonus features that are new to this edition. Here’s the list of the disc’s content (as provided by Arrow).
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Terry Gilliam
- Optional DTS 5.1 Master Audio and 2.0 stereo soundtracks
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Audio commentary by Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven
- The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, feature-length making-of documentary by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha)
- The Film Exchange with Terry Gilliam, a 1996 interview with Gilliam and critic Jonathan Romney, recorded at the London Film Festival
- Brand-new appreciation by Ian Christie, author of Gilliam on Gilliam
- The Twelve Monkeys Archives
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nathan Rabin and archive materials
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Except where noted, all 16:9 screen images in this review are direct captures from the disc(s) in question with no editing applied, but may have compression or resizing inherent to file formats and Medium’s image system. All package photography was taken by the reviewer.