Monday, May 29, 2017

The War

Today’s film has been sitting unwatched in my backlog longer than most of the other films I have covered so far. I recall buying it around 2001/2002 when visiting Best Buy was a regular payday occurrence to see what was on sale. One of those DVDs I impulse bought is today’s entry which I first viewed shortly after its original release in 1994, The War (trailer). The Simmons family is barely surviving trying to make ends meet in a typical hot and humid Mississippi summer in 1970. Siblings Stu (Elijah Wood) and Lidia (Lexi Randall) are toiling away their summer building their dream tree fort while engaged in an intense feud with rival rural neighbor siblings, the Lipnickis. Meanwhile their father, Stephen (Kevin Costner) struggles to find stable work while suffering the effects of PTSD coming back from the Vietnam War.

When I originally saw The War when it hit theaters I was 11, which is right around the same age as Elijah Woods’ character here so suffice it to say Stu easily resonated with me. A big part of this movie is about Stu and Lidia making their local quarries and woods the ultimate summer hang out spot and engaging in their own brand of rural warfare with the Lipnickis kids and the film makes some extreme correlations relating it to flashbacks from Stephen’s drama he experienced in ‘Nam. That is no hyperbole either, because in the film’s big final act the Simmons and Lipnickis are beating the tar out of each other in a sick/awesome slow-motion montage of preteen kids pounding each other with their own unique weaponry while Stu pauses and takes it in and has visions of his father’s Vietnam stories. It is a bizarre scene you just have to see to believe.

I tried to hunt down that iconic scene on YouTube, but was met with failure. I will link instead to another big moment from the film where Lidia’s friend Elvadine (LaToya Crisholm) stands up for herself in summer school class when the teach attempts to segregate the classroom. Again, like the tree fort fight, the scene is amped up, but that is a good thing as the filmmakers here just go for it and hold nothing back like they do with other scenes, for better or worse. Stephen finally finds work at a high-risk mining job, and the film instantly foreshadows doom and gloom, but instead of dragging out a few scenes with routine days on the job, The War wastes no time and has Stephen experience hard times no less than 30 seconds into his first mining scene.

I want to give props to director Jon Avnet for nailing so many little things that went a long way with me like the way the actors sulk in those dreadful, humid summer weather and how everyone’s southern accent is spot on throughout. There are a few scenes where Stu gets up to no good and winds up in impromptu fights with random Lipnickis siblings and Stephen intervenes and preaches to him to rise up above violence and not to think with his fists. It is a big life lesson moment, which I could not help but crack up at as Stu continues to ignore it and winds up in more fights and skirmishes throughout the movie.

A lot of people will rightly first associate Elijah Wood for voicing the iconic videogame character Spyro the Dragon….just kidding we all know what he is primarily known for, but The War was one of his first films and he won a handful of young actor awards from it that recognized him with some serious acting chops. It was a breakout two year span of films for Wood in 1993-94 that put him on the map along with his performances in Adventures of Huck Finn and North that have only lead to bigger and better roles for him to this day. The War also was the debut film for another actor I covered recently here, where Lucas Black made his big screen debut with his performance of Ebb Lipnicki. Black is just as cocky and gung-ho here as an obnoxious eight year old as he was about 12 years later in his leading performance in Tokyo Drift.

Seeing how this is an ancient DVD originally printed in 1999, there is little on here in the way of extras. It has a trailer, production notes and film-ographies. Not many DVDs have production notes and film-ographies any more and I kind of miss them a tisch. The IMDB app has made film-ographies irrelevant for many years now, but I always scour through production notes whenever I see them on a DVD. Do not let the lack of extras sway you from checking out The War however. If you have older parents this would likely be up their alley. I recommended it to my 76-year-old dad after watching it again as I constantly hear him harking back to stories from his childhood years running wild on a farm, so The War should easily be in his wheelhouse.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
12 Rounds 3: Lockdown
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: The Killing Joke
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Christmas Eve
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
The Condemned 2
Dirty Work
Fast and Furious I-VIII
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Guardians of the Galaxy
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VII
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
San Andreas
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Steve Jobs
Source Code
Star Trek I-XIII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)
X-Men: Days of Future Past

No comments:

Post a Comment