Customer Reviews: The War
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on January 18, 2003
I went into this thinking it would be a fairly lighthearted view of one family's troubles living in 1970 Mississippi. After one viewing, I was shocked. Shocked enough to end up watching it three times in two days.
Are people really so mean to one another? Adults will stand by while a child gets beaten by a gang? People will purposefully ram other cars when they break down in the road? Children will fight and do life-threatening dares for property? You bet. This reality was what made this movie so compelling and unique in a world of bland, "let's not be controversial" movies.
It isn't perfect, by any means. It's too long, has too many sub-stories to successfully complete them all, and is downright cheesy at times. But in terms of acting, Costner combines the haunted vet and nuturing father together believeably, and all the children are well done (there are some great faces, really interesting to look at). The most interesting relationship was between the three girls: a relationship which succesfully merged race, strength, loyalty, and good old fashioned girliness. Elijah Wood also has some truly great moments.
The children's war was horrifying, and by far the best part of the movie. I couldn't look at the screen the first time I watched it because it was so disturbing (not because it's violent, but because it's kids who obviously don't realize the seriousness of the situation). It's a really good piece of work, transitioning from innocent to vicious so smoothly the viewers don't consciously realize there was even a shift. Very very well done.
The thing I like about The War is that I still find myself thinking about it weeks later. Not so much about war itself, but about children and growing up, and losing the things you love. Only good movies make you do that.
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on January 2, 2001
I rented this first of all for Kevin Costner, but was surprised after watching why you never heard more about this movie, It was fantastic! Every actor and actress did great jobs, but both Elijah Wood and Kevin Costner stood out. It never really had a certain plot but yet it did in the fact that it focused on war from three sides....The real war Costner went through....The war the children fought to try and fit in.....and the war that everyone of us fight inside ourselves. If you don't walk away from this movie with a twing inside something is missing. I would highly recommend this for the whole family to watch and learn from. And yes I cried at the end.
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on August 2, 1999
The war is a very good movie with a very good slogan (what's worth fighting for..) It's an amazing story and the actors are heartwarming. Everyone acts really well, but Elijah Wood deserves some extra credit here. He proves once again that he's one of the best actors of his age. The war is a movie with a great concept and great scenes, especially the one with the treehouse. In this movie they focus on the real war, but also on the war with yourself and the war between children (treehouse scene). It's a must see movie.
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on December 24, 2002
When I first saw this movie, I remember thinking Elijah Wood is one of the most amazing actors of the times. Even at his age, he was almost upstaging Kevin Costner. I was blown away at his natural talent, and I loved watching him. He has a great way of showing his emotion through his eyes.
Although the movie sometimes is overwritten and wordy, for me it never takes away how wonderful it is to watch. The cast does an amazing job with the sometimes too corny script and makes it all work. Definitely one of my all time favorite movies. If you're just in it to watch a good movie, and not get too critical, you're going to adore it. I gave it 5 stars, even though I said it was flawed, because the movie it self makes up for whatever silly flaws were in the script and directing. The actors are amazing, and do a wonderful job with what is given to them
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on October 26, 1999
THE WAR is the best movie I have seen in years! The performance by Elijah Jordan Wood should have gotten him an Oscar nomination! It left me in tears wanting more. The moral of the story is so deep and makes you think. This is what movies are all about...not special effects and big money! You must BUY this movie NOW! I would seriously give it an OSCAR for BEST PICTURE!
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I had never heard of this film before the New Year. Considering it was released well over a decade ago, I was surprised how good it was. The story is about a struggling poor family told by their little girl's point of view. The cast shine in this engrossing well made tale, which can be summed up by one line Kevin Costner's character says to his young son. "It only takes a second to do something you'll regret for the rest of your life"!....How true! The film has several small stories going on throughout and while they are interesting and well acted, they never seemed to go any deeper than the skin. I did enjoy this film a lot and I'm sure I will watch it again but, it just didn't quite go for the jugular, like I had hoped. As far as content goes......I have read some reviews stating that this film is not suitable for kids. I think PG says it all and I think kids could learn a lot from this picture if, watched with a caring adult who would talk through some issues in this movie. This is a movie, well worth seeing!
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on June 5, 2007
I read a lot of the other reviews and while a lot said good things about this film, some were also bad. One review said it should get an R rating because of the violence bewteen the kids, but childhood brawls, fights, failures and conquests are all about growing up. If we censor things for the children we don't prepare them for what to come. I think this movie has alot of important messages in it and I would suggest it for any parent to watch it with their kid. This was one of my favorite films when I was a kid, and although I didnt understand the post-traumatic stress disorder Kevin Costner was going through, I understood his angst and I had a better understanding of fights between children after I saw this movie. I did my share of neighborhood brawls when I was a kid and looking back now I dont even know of a reason. Its just something that we all go through. Parents shouldnt shun this away from their kids, after all it isn't Lord of the Flies. SPOILER* at the end of the movie it has a really important message when Elijah Wood's character risked his life to save one of the bullies, the message is that when in the face of death the minor fights between the kids were all forgotton in that instant- it didnt mean anything. It is also an important movie to show to kids for the vietnam aspect. How there was a war for the veterens of vietnam when they came home and soldiers have to deal with the guilt and whether they did the right thing or not- somewhat a good starting point for other movies like Born on the Forth of July and Jacob's Ladder. Other messages in this movie are racial ones, standing up for whats right, standing up for your friends, backing away from fights, and to treat anyone with dignity and respect no matter who they are. Also if you do watch this with your kid, prepare yourself, this like Fried Green Tomatoes is a sad movie. It deals with loss and hardships.

I hadn't watched this movie since I was a kid and I watched it again for the first time in 12 years. I have the same fondness I did since I was a kid and more so now because I can appreciate the wonderful soundtrack and score, with great songs by Janis Joplin, CCR, and Cat Stevens and one of the best places in a movie for Gimme Shelter. The score was beautiful and very inspirational from the very talented Thomas Newman. This was a wonderful movie that I would suggest to anyone- one that will always be close to my heart. And anyone who loved Friend Green Tomatoes and Forrest Gump will love this.
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on January 10, 2003
You know, i dont understand sometimes why the critics gnaw on such films as this and "pay it forward"
i dont know what they expect from a film but this one delivers.
Elijah Wood is perfectly cast alongside kevin costner(who is a co-star). "The War" in question is not what you would expect to find in this film, it refers to one of two possibilities.
1)the war that is going on in kevin costner's head, having just returned from one, and the problems the family has to face or
2) the war between the kids, which would be my guess. I dont realy know what else to say but i will tell you that Elijah is a pleasure to watch. personaly, he is a far better actor than McCauly culkin ever was. He has a natural gift for accents (eg. the adventures of huckleberry finn).
so if you are looking for a film that gives you more out of it than you would expect then this is the one. there is a message or two in this one, so check it out. you wont be dissapointed, i gaurantee it.
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on March 22, 2014
Too often, growing up the children of Vietnam Veterans saw there fathers belittled, ridiculed. To a boy or girl who think of there fathers as heros this is intolerable. They were not the 'Black and Tans,' depicted in such atrocious movies as Platoon, Full Metal Jacket or anyone of a number of movies they might recall from when they were just niave kids. The fathers were good and decent men. I for one in H.S. had my father explain to me that the reason a youngman we had both known had gone to prison was because his father taught him to 'never back down.' The kid was Irish and from the Bronx you see. This was serrendipitous advice to me at this pt in my development because I'd had heard it said in a movie that I didn't like but I liked one line in the movie and the line was and I quote 'Better to be dead and cool than alive and uncool,' now. I like a niave teen had been trying to live my life by that axiom it was my father a couragous man who said essentially 'just walk away.' He was right I could have gone to prison just like that Irish kid from the Bronx if I had kept trying to live up to that stupid wise-alickey hollywood scriptwriters line. I'm 36 now I am much older as is my father. I have much to thank him for and to continue to thank him for ...hopefully I prey for many more years to come.
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on August 11, 2015
Though on the surface it might be seen as yet another movie about poverty in Mississippi (which is, by the way, the poorest State in the US) or about the impact of the Vietnam War on the family of veterans, “The War” exceeds expectations on several fronts: presentation, complexity, candidness, and good acting. The story is narrated from the point of view of 12-year old Lidia, played excellently by Lexi Randall, with the acceptance kids usually have at that age (“…we are dirt poor, like everyone else in Juliette, Mississippi” - she tells us right of the start). Though she is white, she befriends two black girls the same age, sharing social condition and taste for music, with some hiccup due to her use of language blacks don’t like others to use on them. She is “tough” as kids in that environment usually are, yet “girlish” in step with her age. She is the one sensitive enough to realize how others feel and has the guts to stand for them, though she struggles to understand her father. Her brother Stu, about the same age, played impeccably by Elijah Wood, is eager, as most boys at that age are, to get close to his father, and in the period they manage to do it he puts is heart in the basket, at great risk. The father, also played impeccably by Kevin Costner, is troubled by war nightmares and the lack of a stable job, but has the courage to eliminate violence from daily living, aiming to show it to his kids by example, against the pressure for violence from the environment they live in, and to be as good a father as he can in the given circumstances. The kids are at the front of events throughout the film, and the story brilliantly shows us how a rivalry with a group of poorer and tougher kids, centered on the use of a tree house made by the former with materials stolen from the latter, gradually escalates into a dangerous “juvenile war”, much the way political conflicts often escalate into wars among nations. "No matter how much people think they understand war, war doesn’t understand people..." the girl concludes, thus we all lose. The War goes on at several levels: Kids fighting in the forefront, Vietnam in the background, and the inner struggles of the main characters, being this latter what truly gives depth to the story. Drama is sparkled with hope, humor and plain coziness, the way it is in life, with very few cheesy scenes. This movie is more that entertainment: it triggers our critical thinking, our capacity for understanding, and leaves a haunting feeling long after is done, in a good way. Recommendable as a family film for discussion, meaning kids 12 or older with some level of maturity. Not for younger kids. Note: 4.5 stars from me (I reserve 5 starts for “once in a lifetime” outstanding films).
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