Plot: What’s it about?
Stephen Simmons (Kevin Costner) served his country in Vietnam, but he still faces battles, even after his return. The war took an immense toll on him, leaving him confused and emotionally battered. Now he wants to rebuild his life and help his family have the best possible lives, putting his past behind him once and for all. But as much as he wants to leave the past behind, he is forced to confront it on a regular basis. He needs to work to put food on his table and provide for his family, but as a veteran of Vietnam, he is the first choice for most employers. As he struggles to push on, his son Stu (Elijah Wood) is embroiled in a war of his own, against the local bullies, the Lipnicki’s. Stu and his sister Lidia (Lexi Randall) plan to construct the greatest fort ever seen, a true refuge from the bullies and the rest of the outside world. As the Simmons family faces all these challenges, will they overcome, or will Stephen’s past directly impact their future?
I’ve seen this movie a few times, but its one that I tend to watch if I find it as I flip through the channels, but not one I’ve been inspired to put in and sit down with. The War isn’t a masterpiece or even a great movie, but it is well made and has a lot of heart, so it is a worthwhile watch. I wasn’t moved to tears, but there is genuine emotion here and as someone who detests melodrama, that is quite a compliment. The story is multi-tiered, but simple to follow and we remain invested in the plot, thanks to some good characters who are well developed. In other words, we care what happens to the characters and while that seems so simple, many movies tend to overlook that element. Kevin Costner gets a lot of heat, but I think he is a talented actor and here, he brings a subtle warmth that works to perfection. Universal’s high definition release looks terrific and sounds terrific, but has no supplements, not even the trailer, which might irk some fans.
Video: How does it look?
The War is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. I’ve been let down by some recent Universal high definition transfers, but this one reverses that trend. The image is clean and crisp, with detail levels that are much improved over the standard disc, so you’ll see the difference here. The depth doesn’t hold up as well in the darker scenes, but when things are bright, the detail on screen is terrific. The visuals display bright colors and accurate contrast too, not much to complain about. Not an eye opening treatment, but a nice improvement in all respects.
Audio: How does it sound?
I was pleased to find a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack here, as the movie has some good audio potential, especially in the flashback sequences. Indeed, those scenes rock and provide ample surround presence with plenty of power. In addition, other scenes with more tense atmosphere spark the surrounds, so this is an active track. The lower key moments come off well too, with lively music presence and clean, never muffled dialogue. This disc also includes a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 option, a French language track, and subtitles in English and French.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes no bonus materials.