One of the most bizzare efforts from director Terry Gilliam, "Jabberwocky" is a strange picture that's occasionally entertaining and often funny. The plot is a bit of a mess, but it concerns Dennis (Michael Palin), a young man who leaves his rather immense love Grisela Fishfinger to journey to the big city. Unfortunately, the city is more concerned with a monster that's been killing people recently.
Gilliam's first effort after "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" probably faced the inevitable comparisons between the two pictures. While "Jabberwocky" isn't nearly as packed with sight gags and verbal humor, there are some funny one-liners. Also in the picture's favor is the set design, which is impressively gloomy and drab, considering the film only had a minor budget to work with. Palin's performance is also enjoyable, although the jokes don't always work quite as well as the film seems to want them to.
Not without its occasional fun and entertaining moments, I think "Jabberwocky" remains a inconsistent picture that falls flat more often than I'd like and tends to suffer in comparison to many of the "Python" movies.
VIDEO: "Jabberwocky" is presented by Columbia/Tristar in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full-frame on this dual-sided DVD. The film has not particularly stood up well to the test of time, as some very noticable wear is visible in various forms throughout; a light layer of grain is persistently apparent throughout, as are instances of specks, dirt and other marks on the print used. Edge enhancement is visible and infrequently mild, while a trace or two of pixelation was briefly noticed.
Sharpness and detail are wanting throughout the film. Although some sequences appeared more well-defined than others, the picture often appeared rather distractingly soft, if not quite to the level of looking hazy or blurred. Colors were not any more successful in this presentation, as they seemed faded and rather weak, although I'm sure that this was not the most vibrant picture in appearance in the first place. While not unwatchable, this presentation was very inconsistent and definitely showed some moderate wear at times.
SOUND: The original mono soundtrack has been re-done in Dolby Digital 5.1 and the results are mixed. While there is some occasional surround use, it tends to come across as artificial and rather strained sounding. Considering that this wasn't a big picture in the first place, the original sound mix was probably not too remarkable, either. Audio quality is somewhat problematic across the board, as sound effects sound thin and dialogue comes through a bit weak and rough.
MENUS:: Basic, non-animated menus that essentially use film-themed images and cover art.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Terry Gilliam and actor Michael Palin. This is not a particularly informative track, but it's often a joy to listen to because the two are obviously such terrific friends and certainly share a good laugh remembering some of the experiences that they had while filming this picture. There's some great stories thrown around and the two are able to really keep the track going strong throughout the entire flick, even occasionally pointing out elements of the film they'd do differently or dislike.
Also: 7 minute Sketch-to-screen comparison (sketches are shown, then a clip); Japanese, Poland and UK posters and theatrical trailer. The insert simply lists chapters.
Final Thoughts: "Jabberwocky" is not one of Gilliam's better efforts, although there are some entertaining moments. Tristar's DVD provides decent audio/video quality, but it's apparent that the picture could use a bit of clean-up at this point. Recommended for Python fans only.