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Toy Soldiers

Columbia/Tri-Star // R // November 5, 2002
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Earl Cressey | posted December 12, 2002 | E-mail the Author
Toy Soldiers, originally released in 1991, was based on the novel by William P. Kennedy and directed by Daniel Petrie Jr. Starring in the film are Sean Astin (Billy), Wil Wheaton (Joey), Keith Coogan (Snuffy), Andrew Divoff (Luis Cali), R. Lee Ermey (General Kramer), Denholm Elliott (Headmaster), and Louis Gossett Jr. (Dean Parker).


When his father is incarcerated in America, Luis Cali and a band of Colombian terrorists take the Regis School hostage in order to gain his father's release. The Regis School is an elite boarding school, home to many sons of influential fathers who have gotten kicked out other, more prestigious, schools. One of these is Billy Tepper, the leader of several likeminded trouble-making teens. However, when the terrorists take the school, Billy and his friends use their ingenuity to aid the military in regaining the school and saving their classmates.


Sean Astin has starred in a few great films over the years (Goonies and Rudy) and a lot of not so great ones. Thankfully, he had Lord of the Rings to save him from early obscurity, as his recent film choices were fairly poor outings. Though he gets 2nd billing on the DVD case, Astin really leads Toy Soldiers and while his acting is merely passable, its actually the best performance of the bunch. Gossett Jr., as the Dean of Students, appears in a perfunctory role that is relatively unimportant. Perhaps the biggest drawback to Toy Soldiers is that it feels a bit too much like Die Hard in places and some of the action is laughably bad (see the fight in the bathroom near the end).



Video:

Toy Soldiers is presented in 1.33:1 full frame, though the original aspect ratio is 1.85:1. The transfer is fairly clean throughout, with only some smaller marks and specks appearing infrequently. Grain is also evident in a few scenes. Colors and flesh tones appear natural with modest blacks.



Audio:

Toy Soldiers is presented in Dolby 2.0 Stereo Surround in English. The track has little in the way of discrete surrounds, though both the effects and dialogue are clean and well-integrated. Optional subtitles are available in English and French.



Extras:

Trailers for Enough, Panic Room, and Soul Assassin are included.



Summary:

Toy Soldiers might make a decent rental if you're a fan of the leads, though certainly go in knowing that the film offers little to the action genre. Fans of the film might want to hold off on a purchase, as the film isn't presented in its original aspect ratio and has no movie-related extras.

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