HTF REVIEW: "Hart's War" (with screenshots)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 25, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    Hart's War

    Studio: MGM
    Year: 2002
    Rated: R
    Film Length: 135 minutes
    Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
    and Standard (1.33:1) Transfers

    Heroes Are Measured By What They Do
    As Hart's War was ending its theatrical
    run, MGM sent me a very early screener of this
    film on DVD. I couldn't review it at the time
    because it did not represent the final product.
    I did, however, strongly want to talk about the
    film because it turned out to be a film I really
    When Lieutenant Thomas Hart (Colin Farrell) arrives
    at Stalag 6 A as a prisoner of the Nazis, he’s
    weighed down by the guilt of having given away
    Allied secrets (under extreme duress) to the Nazis.
    The camp is ruled by the brutal Major Wilhelm
    Visser (Marcel Iures), and the ranking prisoner
    Colonel William McNamara (Bruce Willis), who is
    a fourth generation West Point graduate.
    Assigned to share the camp barracks with the
    lowly enlisted men, Farrell has no control over
    his fellow officers who are eager for escape.
    Life in the camp is soon disrupted by the arrival
    of two black airmen who have been shot down. This
    causes tension amongst the white officers who are
    are very opposed to living with black officers.
    When one of the black pilots is framed and executed,
    tensions run high in the camp.
    Soon there is an execution, and then a murder, and
    then a court martial. Hart, who was studying to be
    a lawyer, has to defend a black man -- which, it is
    pointed out, wouldn't even be necessary if he were
    back in Alabama, because the man would have been
    lynched without trial.
    Hart's War seems like "Hogan's Heroes" where
    the officers aren't cruelly mistreated by their
    German captors and the Major running the camp almost
    becomes a likeable character.
    How is the transfer?
    Shot mostly with blue filters, Hart's War
    has a very warm look to it. While picture is a
    bit soft, there is no video noise and flesh colors
    look very natural. You can't help but to be a
    bit mesmerized by Alar Kivilo's impressive
    cinematography that is well represented by the
    film's 2.35:1 ratio. Not much more I can say here
    except that the transfer is very good.
    The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix has its moments. Though
    mostly not an action film, there are a few sequences
    such as planes attacking a POW train or swooping
    above the Stalag camp that sound very impressive.
    Every explosion that happens in this film sent deep
    rumbles to my subwoofer. If the volume is high
    enough, your room is going to shake. Otherwise,
    the rears mostly supply the ambient background
    winds of the winter, along with the constant
    announcements and/or music over the camp's PA system.
    Special Features
    Hart's War is released as most DVDs should.
    It's a 2-sided disc with an anamorphic widescreen
    presentation on one side and a full-frame presentation
    on the other.
    There is a full length audio commentary with
    Bruce Willis, Director Gregory Hoblit and Writer
    Billy Ray.
    Another full-length commentary features Producer
    David Foster.
    There are 10 deleted scenes on this DVD.
    Some of the highlights include:
    * The original train sequence where Hart
    discovers a soldier who helped him now dead.
    * A black-face follies held in the camp theater
    provides amusement for the camp officers.
    * Want to know what part of the body the
    Coronal Ridge is located at? This revalation
    in the snowy camp will have you howling.
    * During movie night, Archer tells the story
    of green men. We find out here that Archer
    even knows a bit of German.
    * A short extended sequence where Lt. Scott
    asks Hart for pen and paper so he can send his
    wife and kid a warning.
    All these scenes add nothing to the overall
    film, generally dragging it down. These scenes
    can be played with optional commentary by Director
    Gregory Hoblit and Writer Billy Ray.
    A small handful of photos make up the Photo
    Gallery. These photos are broken down into
    Behind The Scenes; The Film; The Set and
    my favorite, The Poster Shoot which shows
    Willis giving some of his meanest sneers to the
    The film's original theatrical trailer is
    included as well as trailers for Stargate SG-1;
    and currently playing in theaters,
    Final Thoughts
    Hart's War is sort of a sleeper. It is
    by no means a classic movie, nor even a classic
    war movie. The film effectively looks at the
    issues of honor, racism, and redemption. Through
    all of this, the film remains charismatic and thus
    becomes an unexpected pleasure.
    I would recommend this as a definite rental, and
    for those who are daring, may wish to order it
    on-line for about $20. Not bad for a decent Bruce
    Willis movie -- one I have been wanting to talk
    about for the past few months since I first saw it.
    Release Date: July 9, 2002
  2. Steve_Knutzen

    Steve_Knutzen Screenwriter

    Feb 17, 2002
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    Thanks Ron. Bruce Willis is one of my favorite actors. I'll definitely be renting this one as soon as my store gets it.
  3. Matt_P

    Matt_P Second Unit

    Sep 19, 2000
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    Thanks for the review, Ron. I was one of the few people who saw Hart's War in the theater, which really is too bad. It is a strong film that was deserving of a successful box office run. I really enjoyed it. I have been eagerly awaiting this release, and will certainly be picking this up on street date. Your review has decreased my patience even more! [​IMG]
    FYI, also has a review up.
  4. Bill J

    Bill J Producer

    Oct 27, 2001
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    Great review, Ron. I will definitely pick this one up. It's a shame that this film didn't do better at the box office.
  5. Tim Hoover

    Tim Hoover Screenwriter

    May 27, 2001
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    About time, Ron [​IMG] Thanks for the explanation!
    After a somewhat dry 2001, 2002 is really starting to hurt the ol' wallet...
  6. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

    Dec 31, 1998
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    I wanted to see it in the theater it will get atleast a rent from me.
  7. Jenna

    Jenna Second Unit

    Feb 12, 2002
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    Picked this up at CircuitCity yesterday for $15.99 (which included a CC "exclusive interactive CD-ROM" with it).

    I missed it's theatrical release, and had planned to rent it after reading Ron's review; however, the salesgirl talked me into buying it -- and I'm so glad I did!

    I loved this movie! I was very impressed with the quality of the transfer, the storyline, and the acting, not to mention the bonus features. From start-to-finish, the movie had us glued to the screen. Even my 10 year old son loved it, and thanked me for bringing it home.

    This is a gem of a movie, so if you decide to purchase it, you probably won't be disappointed, especially if you're a Willis fan. It reminded me of a more dramatic, more mature, non-comedic version of "Hogan's Hero's" (without Sgt. Schultz).
  8. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

    Mar 14, 1999
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    We rented and watched it last night. While it was a well-done picture with strong performances and gorgeous photography, it didn't "capture" us like other war movies have in the the past.
    Not a purchase for us, I'm afraid. "We were Soldiers," now that's a different story.[​IMG]
  9. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

    Jan 8, 2000
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  10. Robert G

    Robert G Stunt Coordinator

    Dec 2, 2000
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    I really enjoyed this one. Ron is dead on about the audio. It is very impressive when the movie calls for it. My dual SVS's shook my couch more than most recent films.
  11. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer

    Aug 20, 2000
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    The movie turned out to be better than I thought it would be. I would like to know what is going on with these discs tho. I had to take the first one I rented back because of breakups and freezing along with audio dropouts. The replacement started acting up right at the climax of the movie. Are they cranking these things out at such a rate now that more and more flawed discs are getting through? Or are they authoring these things differently which is starting to play havoc with older players? This is the second movie that I have had problems with.

    I keep thinking maybe the firmware in my machine is getting ancient but I have not heard of any upgrade being released by Toshiba for their older players like the 3109.
  12. Jeff Whitford

    Jeff Whitford Screenwriter

    Dec 31, 1998
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    Well I rented it and loved it so I bought it. Just so every one knows, if you buy the disc at Bestb for $15.99 you can get $5 off if you buy at the same time either The Great Escape, A Bridge Too Far or Paths to Glory. PLUS there is a $3 off coupon on Harts War cover for a discount if you buy any of those three discs listed. So my check out total for Hart's War and A Bridge Too Far was $19.21 including tax. Very cool.
  13. Dharmesh C

    Dharmesh C Supporting Actor

    Jul 25, 2000
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    Very good film, I don't understand why it did poor box-office. Excellent picture and the audio was sublime, when there was action, the whole damn room shaked, it was terrific.

    It's worth a rental.

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