Reviews for region 1 discs From Ultimate DVD #06

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George Clooney from the Three Kings DVD

Clooney, Wahlberg and Ice Cube: whipping up a desert storm

The Movie

Boasting a raw power that leaves the viewer agog long after the end titles have rolled, David O’Russell’s utterly brilliant achievement is the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels of the war film genre. And, while it’s easy to be dazzled by the invigorating photography, dizzying camerawork and bleached-out film stock, it’s also impossible to forget that at the basis of this film is a very unique script.

Effectively touching on the darkest sides of the Gulf War, this true original features the kind of quirky humour one only finds in real life. Clooney, at last chasing decent roles, is perfect as the grizzled Archie Gates, who leads three soldiers on an unauthorized mission to pilfer stolen Kuwaiti bullion. Along the way this bunch of likeable scoundrels are embroiled in a private little war, before finally becoming local heroes when the human toll of the conflict sinks in.

Never remotely jingoistic, Three Kings is a fresh, frenetic and thought-provoking celluloid treat. 5 stars - Damn fine discDefinitely one of this year’s finest films.

The Extras

There’s so much added value it’s hard to conceive that it all can fit onto one single-sided disc. O’Russell gives us some verbal in a terrific commentary track, detailing how the script was developed from John Ridley’s initial story, how the style of photography was based on CNN footage and why the use of unconventional film stock proved to be unpredictable.

In a separate commentary, producers Charles Roven and Edward McDonnell recall budgetary problems, cost cutting exercises and reveal that Clooney’s involvement (he was still shooting on ER at the time) was a scheduling nightmare. Both tracks are a fascinating and rewarding experience.

Ditto Under the Bunker (duration 22 mins), an intimate look behind the scenes of the shooting in Arizona. With video footage of the cast undergoing military exercises, frazzled production meetings and a view of the real Iraqi refugees who worked on the film, it’s a brilliant documentary that places the emphasis on providing information rather than promotion.

Production designer Catherine Hardwicke offers an extensive 10-minute Tour of the Iraqi Village Set, director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel gives a (fairly technical) seven-minute interview (dubbed over relevant clips), and Ice Cube is the focus in the short intimate Look inside the Acting Process, a tongue-in-cheek short directed by Spike Jonze.

Best of all, though, is David O’Russell’s Video Journal, in which the director documents the making of Three Kings from the first day of pre-production through to the star-studded première. The 15 minutes of camcorder footage is priceless, and includes casting sessions, O’Russell’s first meeting with Clooney (charming) and Wahlberg (seemingly not amused), auditions, rehearsals and the first shot. Every DVD should have one.

As well as the deleted scenes, there’s an impressive gallery of Spike Jonze photography, the trailer (which predictably features all the money shots and Wahlberg’s pecs), plus bios, production notes, the odd Easter Egg and website materials for DVD-ROM users.5 stars - Damn fine disc A stunning line-up for a very special movie.

David Richardson

Three Kings

Cast • George Clooney
Mark Wahlberg
Ice Cube
Spike Jonze
Director • David O’Russell
Duration • 115 mins
Screen Ratio • 2.35:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby Digital 5.1
Chapters • 31
Languages • English
Subtitles • English, French
Release Date • April 11
Distributor • Warner

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Chapter 12– Mortar
The Iraqis attack with gas mortars, and the escaping soldiers stray into a minefield…

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