12 Monkeys is one of the most revered cult classics ever made. Fans of that time travel movie should check out these 10 titles as well.
If there is one thing you wouldn’t really expect from a member of the world-renowned comedy troupe Monty Python to go on to be, it would be a visionary director of a series of incredible, twist-filled, mind-bending sci-fi films. Aside from maybe a career creating travel documentaries like Michael Palin did, that is.
Terry Gilliam’s 12 Monkeys from 1995 is a work of underrated cinematic brilliance fronted by Bruce Willis and a very young Brad Pitt. It stands alone thanks to its incredible uniqueness, but there are a variety of films which fans of the surrealist, complex style of 12 Monkeys would probably fall in love with. For fans who are starving for more strange yet hypnotic movies like 12 Monkeys, they need look no further than these ten equally amazing films.
Also from Terry Gilliam, Brazil is a very, very strange film. Much like 12 Monkeys, it tells the story of a dystopian future full of crazy machines and complex, confusing surrealism. Robert De Niro is billed highly but only appears briefly.
Instead, this is Jonathan Pryce’s time to shine. He plays the confused, complex Sam Lowry to a tee and acts as a window into the 1984-esque brilliance of a manic future world.
Donnie Darko (2001)
The strange Donnie Darko came out to a moderate response, as its trailer (which featured a plane crash) was due for release just a few days after the September 11 terror attacks. Despite its low budget and low box office returns, Donnie Darko has gone down in history as a cult classic due to its creepy depiction of the impact of future prediction.
While 12 Monkeys is all about how the events of time cannot be changed, Donnie Darko focuses on how they’re very much malleable. The movie’s unique take on the old hat idea of time travel will definitely please and intrigue fans of 12 Monkeys.
Despite some of its unforgettable moments, the grand and expansive Interstellar doesn’t come close to the simple insanity of 12 Monkeys. That said, though, it is still a brilliant exploration of technology and sci-fi complexities.
Christopher Nolan has access to budgets ten times the size of Gilliam, but we imagine the visuals in this film might be along the lines of what a big-budget Gilliam might create.
The Truman Show (1998)
In 12 Monkeys, James Cole is being monitored a lot of the time. Not on TV screens around the world, but by his own interactions with the future. Despite the grand scale, this lack of privacy leaves the film feeling strangely claustrophobic and full of the foreboding feeling that nothing can be done to change anything that will happen.
For the most part, The Truman Show isn’t far away from that as it also focuses on a man with no autonomy in his life. The main difference here is that Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) doesn’t know anyone’s watching since his entire life is actually a hit reality TV show he has no knowledge about.
If there is one thing that inspired Terry Gilliam to make Brazil it is George Orwell’s novel 1984, the perfect depiction of a dystopian future. It was made into a film in the year 1984 to generally positive reviews, despite its inability to truly capture the essence of the incredible novel.
Gilliam claims to have never read the book, but the parallels between this, Brazil and 12 Monkeys make this seem incredibly unlikely.
Back To The Future (1985)
The original Back To The Future will probably go down in history as the best film about time travel ever made. Anyone who loves 12 Monkeys but hasn’t seen the first adventure of Doc Brown and Marty McFly is missing out on a lot.
It doesn’t have the same seriousness as 12 Monkeys and it doesn’t exactly follow a surrealist art style, but if you’re looking for the perfect use of time travel then here’s your chance.
Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas (1998)
The cinematic version of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas is yet another Terry Gilliam classic. It might not be his best film, but it could easily be his strangest. It doesn’t follow the sci-fi of 12 Monkeys and instead focuses on the drug-induced mania of Johnny Depp and Benicio del Toro.
It might have been a financial failure upon release, but it has since gained a cult status for its non-stop weirdness. The movie also has the claim of being the one movie that Hunter S. Thompson, the author and star of the book the movie is based on, gave his stamp of approval to.
The Zero Theorem (2013)
Terry Gilliam’s most recent journey into the world of sci-fi, The Zero Theorem, is considered to be the third entry into a dystopian trilogy that continues the themes introduced in Brazil and 12 Monkeys, though Gilliam has expressed this to both be untrue or intentional.
Either way, those who enjoyed the bizarre complexities of his two finest works will find something to enjoy and think about in this strange Christoph Waltz trip of a movie.
Harry Potter & The Prisoner Of Azkaban (2004)
At first glance, it doesn’t seem to add up. However, most overtly, Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban is full of time travel, the instant connection to 12 Monkeys.
Look deeper and the connection is even stronger. Gilliam was actually considered to direct the first Harry Potter film, though he has since voiced a strong hatred for the finished product. Azkaban was Alfonso Cuarón’s only film in the franchise that Gilliam has stated to be much closer to what he would have done with the adaptation if he agreed to direct it.
V For Vendetta (2005)
The cinematic adaptation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel V For Vendetta doesn’t have much in common with 12 Monkeys in terms of story, but its setting is rather relatable.
Under a strange future regime, James Cole encounters government corruption and a man with a strong sense of anti-corporate views who isn’t a million miles from V himself.