|Category||Action||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 2
1 - 1.78:1 (16x9), Dolby Digital 2.0
2 - 1.33:1 (4x3) Dolby Digital 2.0
|Rating||Other Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - Dolby Digital Rain|
|Year Released||1999||Commentary Tracks||Yes, 2
1 - David O. Russell (Director)
2 - Charles Roven (Producer), Ed McDonnell (Producer)
|Running Time||110:05 Minutes||Other Extras||Cast & Crew Listing
Featurette - Under the Bunker (21:34)
Featurette - Tour of the Iraqi Village Set (10:17)
Deleted Scenes (with commentary or production audio) (6:34)
Interview with DOP Newton Thomas Sigel (7:07)
Featurette - An Intimate Look Inside the Acting Process with Ice Cube (2:22)
|Region||4||Director||David O. Russell|
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Case||Horrid Button Thing|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
|16x9 Enhancement||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 1 (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 2 (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
"Too often, on social issues, my party has painted
an image of America slouching toward Gomorrah. Too often, my party has
focused on the national economy, to the exclusion of all else, speaking
a sterile language of rates and numbers, of CBO and GNP. Too often my party
has confused the need for limited government with a disdain for government
itself. This is not an option for conservatives. Our founders rejected
cynicism, and cultivated a noble love of country."
-- George Bush, June 10, 1999
I simply cannot think of a more ironic quote, given Bush's failure to understand the meaning of democracy, or of his demonstrated devil-may-care attitude to the people of Iraq, except maybe "I have opinions of my own, strong opinions, but I don't always agree with them". Yes, he really did say that. Anyway, David O. Russell's Three Kings is based on two things from two wars: the first half of the film's concept revolves around a group of American soldiers stealing gold from the bunkers where Iraqi troops had hidden everything they'd stolen from the Kuwaiti people. The second phase of the story revolves around the result of the American forces leaving the people twisting in the wind when they answered the call to drive Hussein out of power. As you would expect, the Iraqi army turned upon the citizens that Bush had called upon to rise up against the government, with messy and painful results. This is the situation into which a group of four bored American soldiers are plunged, and the film revolves around the manner in which they resolve both their desire for wealth and the way in which their conscience is troubled by the plight of ordinary Iraqi citizens.
Archie Gates (George Clooney) is a Special Forces officer, a Major to be more exacting, who is disgusted with the war and eager to retire, which he is meant to do in a matter of weeks. Three of the rather bored officers under his command, Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg), Chief Elgin (Ice Cube), and Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze) discover a map detailing the location of stolen Kuwaiti gold, and together they plan a heist to steal it for themselves. What begins as a remarkable caper for some wealth to take home after a wasted effort quickly turns into a deeper, more sombre journey when the soldiers realize that the war they were told was over is still very much in progress, except that the Iraqi soldiers are now attacking the civilian population. Along the way, we are treated to a series of bizarre effects that demonstrate such things as the results of bullets hitting the liver, lungs collapsing, or even the occasional infra-red goggles-eye view. This, of course, is where one problem with the film stems from. In spite of the uniformly strong acting, even from Ice Cube, Russell's story and the photographic techniques tend to overwhelm the story from time to time. By Russell's own admission, he was trying to experiment with the look of the film a little and make it unlike any other war film, but the trade-off is that the audience is often made to feel as if they are merely watching a film, rather than being immersed in it.
The Australian theatrical release of Three Kings was trimmed down a little in order to avoid an R rating. The scene that caused the censors a problem can be found on this disc, and I am surprised to say the least that this full cut of the film requires the strongest OFLC rating. Sure, there's a few shots involving internals, but these are done in such a clinical and cold fashion that you could really expect to see such shots in an educational film. Situations such as this, their lack of recognition that adults also play computer games, and the loss of meaning in the content advisory below the rating (how much meaning can "Medium Level Violence" have when it is shown below both a PG and R rating?) lead me to believe that the OFLC has definitely lost the plot.
This film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. This is the only constant between the three film stocks that were used to make this film. In order, the makers of the film used Bleach Bypass processing, Ektachrome film stock, and standard film stock in the shooting of the film. The first of these techniques, Bleach Bypass, is so named because a stage in the processing of the film is bypassed, which leaves a layer of silver on the negative that deepens blacks and boosts contrast. As a result, the first third of the film has a harsh, colourless look that accurately reflects the lifeless boredom felt by the soldiers in the barracks, and gives the conflict around them a lifeless, unreal appearance. During this part of the film, the colour saturation is dull, shadow detail is minimal, and the sharpness is somewhat reduced.
The second third of the film, in which the three soldiers make their way to an Iraqi village and find the civilian population being slaughtered by Saddam's militia, was photographed using a film stock known as Ektachrome, which is similar to the type of film that is used in conventional still cameras. This gives the colours an unusually saturated appearance whilst increasing the amount of grain in the resultant image, resulting in imagery that looks and feels as if it is being viewed under the influence of mind-expanding drugs.
Finally, the last third of the film was photographed using what appears to be more conventional film stock, giving the film a sense of clarity and focus not present in the other sections of the film. This is an excellent reflection not only of what the characters' emotional states would be in these circumstances, but how I presume I would feel in a similar situation.
Overall, the transfer ranges from being reasonably sharp to razor sharp, with reasonable to very good shadow detail, with no real low-level noise problems, and a perfectly acceptable level of film grain.
The colour saturation is an accurate reflection of the director's intentions, to the point where the middle of the film made me wonder exactly what was in the lemonade I was drinking during my first viewing.
MPEG artefacts were not noticed at any moment during the main feature, even during the sequences involving Iraqi chemical grenades, which must have placed an awful amount of stress on the compression. The extras make up for the main feature, however, by showing some mild compression artefacts from time to time, although they are not nearly as bad as the extras on The World Is Not Enough where artefacts are concerned. I noticed no instances of aliasing or telecine wobble, although the camera movement in some interior car shots left a lot to be desired. There are no noticeable film artefacts other than those that resulted from the different filming techniques used in each act.
This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place at 73:03, just at the end of Walter Wogaman's (Jamie Kennedy's) attempt to kiss Adriana Cruz (Nora Dunn), the reporter he is escorting. While this isn't the quickest layer change I have ever seen, the placement is perfectly acceptable.
I noted some minor problems with the dialogue, with some high-frequency fuzziness making its way into some lines, especially those spoken by the Iraqi civilians. There did not appear to be any problems with audio sync, although it is interesting to note that much of the dialogue was shot in such a manner so as to hide the face of whomever is speaking.
The musical score by Carter Burwell is a wonderful effort. The score music helps to build the appropriate atmosphere during the moments in which it appears, giving the film much of its comedic edge. The use of contemporary music that one normally associates with American war movies is a very nice touch, as it gives the action and dialogue a certain alien, foreign feel. The best thing about this score music is that on the one occasion where it does descend into the use of what sounds like pseudo-Arabic dribble, it is actually very funny.
The surround channels were aggressively utilized by the music and the action sequences, with a hail of bullets flying around the surround channels during each of the action sequences. A lot of opportunities to have sounds rush from one speaker to another are seized, and while this isn't the best example of surround channel usage I have ever heard, it is certainly an excellent example. This is a disc with which you can demonstrate to your friends why you spent all that money on a Dolby Digital amplifier. The subwoofer was present and accounted for, adding a deep floor to the gunshots and the explosions, and generally adding a bit of vibration to the deep sounds.
The video quality is an excellent reflection of the film's unusual style.
The audio quality is a reflection of the conditions under which the film was recorded.
The extras are comprehensive.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output|
|Display||Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|