Kings" on DVD
War is Heck
David O. Russell's
"Three Kings," set just after the Persian Gulf War ended in 1991, blends
comedy with action, emotion with absurdity, and throws in some pretty
interesting filmmaking to sweeten the mix.
George Clooney, Mark
Walhberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze are American soldiers who head off
on a highly unauthorized mission to liberate - well, steal - a cache of
Kuwaiti gold that had been taken by the Iraqis during their occupation
of the tiny Gulf state.
They plan to retire
from the forces in style, with millions of dollars worth of bullion as
don't go according to plan. They find the gold, but in the process they
get swept up in the human tragedy of post war Iraq when the US-led UN
coalition encouraged the Iraqi people to rise up, but didn't give them
the support that would allow them to do it.
The film dwells on
this point at some length, making then-president George Bush out to be
some kind of betrayor, conveniently ignoring the fact that the UN coalition
was mandated only to free Kuwait and not to go after Saddam Hussein.
It's a point written
into the screenplay in hindsight, unfortunately, and hindsight isn't always
fair to history.
Anyway, the human
drama is quite moving as decent Iraqi citizens come into conflict with
Saddam Hussein's forces and the Americans get drawn into their lives.
Decency wins out in
the end and, except for the people who die, all appear to live reasonably
happy ever after.
Three Kings has many
light moments and a few fairly dark ones, but on the whole it works quite
well. You learn to care for these crusty Americans who, at the beginning,
are only interested in their heist. You also learn to care for many of
the Arab peoples they meet, people who only want to live their lives in
peace. These are not your typically stereotyped movie Arabs.
The DVD is presented
in widescreen (enhanced for 16x9 TV's), Dolby Digital 5.1, and the audio
and video quality are very good. The picture quality appears to be all
over the map but, as noted by an onscreen disclaimer at the beginning
of the film, the director's intent was to shoot with various looks, so
you can't blame the DVD medium for any washed out or otherwise weird looks
you might find.
There's some nice
use of surround among all the explosions and gunfire, which is always
a nifty experience in the home theater.
Three Kings has plenty
of extras, including an "easter egg" accessible from the main menu that
gives you a secret code you can use on the DVD ROM components.
There are also feature
commentaries, behind the scenes documentaries, interviews with some of
the creative personnel, and a "director's video journal." It's quite interesting
stuff, too. You also get "An intimate look inside the acting process,"
with Ice Cube, a gallery of still pictures, trailers, and the abovementioned
DVD ROM component.
I expected "Three
Kings" to be more of a wartime comedy in the tradition of "Kelly's Heroes,"
but it's far more than that and, while in the grand scheme of movies it's
probably a fairly lightweight entry, it's still a satisfying couple of
hours in the home theater.
Three Kings, from
Warner Home Video
115 minutes, Widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
Starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze
Produced by Charles Roven, Paul Junger Witt, Edward L. McDonnell, Screenplay
by David O. Russell
Directed by David O. Russell
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