TV review: 12 Monkeys, SyFy
Terry Gilliam's dark sci-fi movie is adapted to TV with mixed results
Drop any out of date preconceptions, it's not all dodgy CGI and endless Sharknado sequels on SyFy, the channel has been upping it's game when it comes to original programming of late. 12 Monkeys joins their roster of original programming, taking Terry Gilliam's mix of time travel, madness and the apocalypse as its starting point. Aaron Stanford steps into Bruce Willis' role as James Cole who jumps back from 2043 to 2013, then 2015, to enlist the help of virologist Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull) to try and stop a worldwide pandemic before it even starts.
12 Monkeys takes the basic premise of the film then runs with it, this is inspired by the 1995 original rather than a direct remake. A straightforward sci-fi conspiracy thriller with a time travel twist rather than Gilliam's mind warping exploration of sanity. In many ways it's best to try and forget the film entirely, 12 Monkeys wants to create its own animal. Necessarily expanding the 12 Monkey's universe to turn a two-hour film into a 13-part TV series (possibly even more if the ratings are good) with more characters and more time spent in the dystopian plague ravaged future.
Cole is tired and weary. Physically and mentally drained not just by the rigours of the time travel itself but also the burden of his future knowledge and the weight of his mission to save mankind. Stanford is suitably grizzled and moody but unfortunately Schull is a bit bland and believes Cole's outlandish claims far too quickly. Interestingly in the final minutes they introduce Brad Pitt's character, however Jeffery Goines has become Jennifer Goines (now played by Emily Hampshire) so it'll be intriguing to see how that wrinkle plays out. 12 Monkeys needs a few more episodes to really stamp its own identity on the material but hints at a far larger darker conspiracy that warrants further investigation.
12 Monkeys premieres on SyFy, Fri 27 Feb.