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The War

Blu Ray

  • Score
    from 1 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • The War's melodrama and excessive explanations hurt its realism; Kino Lorber's release needs a sale.

    The War Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
  • The War's Blu-ray release by Kino Lorber, with a 1.85:1 1080p MPEG-4 AVC transfer from an unappealing master, suffers from harsh digital artifacts and unstable grain, scoring 2.75/5. Region-A locked.

  • Audio
  • This Blu-ray features clear, stable English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and 2.0 tracks with optional English SDH, though the war scene lacks dynamic intensity. No audio flaws noted.

  • Extra
  • Kino Lorber features exclusive commentaries on 'The War' exploring directorial insights, stylistic choices, and Jon Avnet's career evolution, plus a vintage trailer and additional trailers for four other films.

  • Movie
  • The War (1994), directed by Jon Avnet, explores a family's struggle against adversity, enhanced by a Blu-ray release with rich extras and commentary, amid criticized realism and drama in a Southern setting.

    Video: 53

    The War" makes its way to Blu-ray with a presentation that, while preserving the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and featuring a 1080p transfer encoded with MPEG-4 AVC, unfortunately does so via an older master supplied by Universal Pictures. This decision has led to a release characterized by a distinctly digital aesthetic, one that fails to do justice to the film’s visual potential. Notably, viewers are likely to encounter instances of light smearing and an overall harshness in image quality, phenomena that become particularly pronounced during scenes captured in daylight. These issues are exacerbated by certain camera angles and directorial choices that influence the dynamic between light and shadow, contributing to an uneven viewing experience.

    The blu-ray's handling of color and grain leaves much to be desired. While the color scheme itself remains stable throughout, the artificial sharpening applied to the film compromises the integrity of its hues, suggesting that a more carefully constructed 4K restoration could offer a significant improvement in this area. Furthermore, issues with grain stability and exposure disrupt the film’s visual consistency, detracting from the immersion and authenticity of its historical setting. Despite these shortcomings, it should be noted that the image stability is commendable, with no severe artifacts such as debris, cuts, stains, or damage to the film stock itself.

    Given these considerations, this Blu-ray release of "The War," locked to Region-A, demonstrates a clear need for a new master to fully realize the visual potential of this cinematic piece. The current presentation, while devoid of major physical defects, is significantly hampered by its reliance on an outdated master and the resulting digital manipulations. A revised score reflects these visual compromises: 2.75/5.00.

    Audio: 73

    The Blu-ray release of "The War" offers audio experiences via two main tracks: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, with the addition of optional English SDH subtitles for accessibility. The focus of this review is on the auditory presentation, particularly the 5.1 track, noted for its crispness and delineation. The audio delivery exhibits a commendable balance, ensuring dialogues are clear and background scores resonate well, creating an immersive experience. Despite the high fidelity, it's worth noting the war sequences, especially a pivotal moment involving Kevin Costner's character, lacked the anticipated auditory impact that one might expect from scenes of such visceral intensity.

    Upon extensive listening, the depth and stability of the soundstage stand out, presenting a well-engineered mix that faithfully reproduces an array of sounds, from subtle environmental nuances to the more robust action sequences. The technical performance proves reliable; no instances of audio dropout or distortion were detected, underlining a quality production. However, there's an observation that the dynamic range, particularly in key action scenes, could benefit from slight enhancement to better capture the chaotic essence of battle—a minor critique but one that could elevate the auditory realism in future remastering efforts.

    In conclusion, while the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track demonstrates technical proficiency and provides a generally satisfying auditory experience, there's room for nuanced improvements. The feedback should not deter from recognizing the overall quality and effort poured into the audio presentation of "The War." It stands as a solid effort, though with potential for enhancements in future editions to fully encapsulate the emotional depth and scope of its cinematic moments.

    Extra: 58

    The extra section of the Blu-Ray release of "The War" offers a deep dive into the film's creative process, stylistic decisions, and its place within Jon Avnet's directorial career. With exclusive commentary tracks from Avnet himself and critics Emma Westwood and Paul Anthony Nelson, viewers gain insight into the film's distinctive sequences, comedic elements, and casting choices, alongside discussions on Avnet's evolution as a director and the film's aesthetic links to his other works. Additionally, the inclusion of a vintage trailer and a selection of trailers for related Kino Lorber releases adds further value for collectors and fans of Avnet's filmography. Maintaining a focus on technical details and the filmmaker's vision, this set provides a comprehensive look at the making of "The War" and its context within 1990s cinema.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Commentary One: Director Jon Avnet discusses various aspects of "The War," including production locations, stylistic choices, and casting.
    • Commentary Two: Critics Emma Westwood and Paul Anthony Nelson elaborate on Jon Avnet's career development and the stylistic and thematic connections between "The War" and "Fried Green Tomatoes."
    • Trailer: A vintage trailer for "The War."
    • Additional Trailers: Trailers for Kino Lorber releases "The Good Son," "Paradise," "Swing Vote," and "A Thousand Acres.

    Movie: 53

    Jon Avnet's "The War" (1994), a poignant, yet at times, heavy-handed drama, finds a delicate balance between realism and melodrama with varying degrees of success. The narrative, set against the backdrop of rural Mississippi—though filmed across South Carolina and Georgia—unfolds the saga of a family teetering on the brink of despair. Kevin Costner's portrayal of Stephen, a Vietnam war veteran grappling with his return to civilian life, alongside Mare Winningham's resilient Lois, forms the emotional core of the film. Their children, played by Elijah Wood and Lidia Joanne Simmons, add depth with their youthful innocence and dreams, clashing with the harsh realities of their parents' world.

    From a technical standpoint, the film benefits from Thomas Newman's evocative score which, notwithstanding its emotional charge, occasionally underscores the film’s tendency towards over-explanation and predictability. Director Jon Avnet’s intention to anchor the film in a genuine sense of place and time sometimes backfires, leading to scenes that feel more staged than authentic. This is further exacerbated by dialogues that at times seem too polished, pulling the audience away from the realism that the narrative strives to achieve.

    The Blu-ray release by Kino Lorber enhances this cinematic experience with its high-quality presentation and insightful bonus features, including new audio commentaries that shed light on both production challenges and thematic intentions. Despite its flaws—with moments of drama tipping into melodrama and a sometimes overemphasized narrative—“The War” serves as a reflective piece on family, perseverance, and the scars of war. The film’s attempt to navigate complex emotional landscapes with subtlety is commendable, though not always effectively realized.

    Total: 58

    The Blu-ray release of "The War" by Kino Lorber offers a mixed bag that ranges from its narrative approach to the quality of the physical product itself. The film is steeped in melodrama, which, while aiming for emotional depth, ends up bordering on the predictable and overly scripted. This penchant for drama is further compounded by the film's tendency to overly explain its narrative points, thereby diluting any semblance of realism it aims to portray. Despite these narrative pitfalls, there remains an underlying story with potential, hinting at what could have been if ventured through a different narrative lens.

    In terms of the technical aspect of this release, it is sourced from an older master provided by Universal Pictures, which fails to impress. The visual quality of this Blu-ray suffers as a result, lacking the refinement and clarity that fans of the medium have come to expect from modern releases. This factor alone may make prospective buyers hesitant, suggesting that this edition might only be worth purchasing at a discounted rate. The packaging and presentation reflect a standard effort without any notable enhancements to make it stand out amongst other Blu-ray offerings.

    In conclusion, "The War" on Blu-ray presents a lukewarm offering from Kino Lorber. While the film itself harbors a story with potential, the excessive melodrama and explicit narrative guide leave much to be desired. Coupled with a subpar video quality sourced from an aging master, this release struggles to justify its place in one’s Blu-ray collection unless found at a sale price. It underscores the need for careful consideration of source materials and the value of re-mastering when bringing older films to modern home cinema formats.