"The War" kind of slid past me, as I honestly have never seen this film, much less heard about it. As I watched this for the first time, I did remember bits and pieces as I have probably seen it on TNT or something like that. But I can honestly tell you that I was wonderfully surprised by how much I had been missing by not seeing "The War."
When Stephen Simmons (Kevin Costner) comes home from the Vietnam War, he is not the same man he was before. He has seen and done things during the war that have changed him forever, but Simmons is determined to become the man he used to be. After enduring some terrible times (leaving his family, going to a hospital for recurring nightmares, and post-traumatic stress disorder), he decides to face it dead on. With his family supporting him, Simmons struggles to find work and keep his family afloat. His 10-year-old son Stu (Elijah Wood) faces some extremely difficult challenges as he learns what it means to be a man at such an incredibly young age. Haunted by bullies, trying to fit in, and just trying to have fun during the summer, Stu finds himself in a different kind of war than his father, a war between the bullies and his group of friends. The struggle is how to come to a truce...if possible...to gain a sense of peace about life.
Costner does a fine job of a distraught Vietnam Vet who just can't seem to catch a break in life. His character is believable, and we truly find ourselves drawn to him and his struggles as he tries to keep his family together. The heart of the movie is really Elijah Wood, who does an incredible job as a young boy, forced to learn life's lessons early on. Wood leads us through Stu's life with such great ease...we want Stu to be a child, we want him to live a good life, and yet, he has to grow up so quickly.
Like I said before, I never really heard of "The War" before I had to review it. I was extremely impressed with all the aspects of the film. The storyline was incredibly touching, as we follow the life of a family living in extremely harsh times. The beginning is a bit slow, but as the movie moves along, it really opens up and lets us in to the heart of the story. The characters come alive, and it is a pleasure watching each one in their own struggles.
"The War" is a film that should be watched. It isn't perfect, but it is overall a wonderful film that has huge heart and does everything it can to make us believe and want more. "The War" is actually quite hard to classify; it is about love, family, and the struggle to fit in, and to what lengths a person will go to regain control.
Here we get a surprisingly well-done transfer with a 1080p VC-1 Codec. "The War" really gets a wonderful re-imaging on this high-def release. The colors are very nice...they aren't too warm and the greens especially pop at you. The skin tones are near perfect with great detail in faces. There are a few inconsistencies in detail...for instance; it will be a nearly perfect scene with fantastic detail, but then drop to just good detail. We are never presented with "bad" detail by any means, so overall we get a wonderful transfer. It is great to see older catalog titles getting such a nice treatment.
Here we get a TrueHD 5.1 track and a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Track. Here is another surprise because the sound was great fun to listen to. There were surprising amounts of surrounds used throughout, especially during war flashbacks and scenes when the two groups of kids are running around "fighting." Sometimes, the dialogue tends to be overwhelmed by the soundtrack, but for the most part it is actually very nice and even. I just couldn't get over the surrounds in "The War." They were so present throughout the film...it made "The War" that much more enjoyable to listen to.
"The War" is a wonderful little gem that should be seen by many. This release gives us fantastic video and audio, but unfortunately nothing for extras. If you haven't seen "The War," you should pick this up and take a look. It is a little slow at first, but once you are in, you will fall in love and will absolutely be entertained. I have to recommend this one even without the special features.