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Charlie Wilson's War
DVD disk
May 7, 2008 By: Sturdy
Charlie Wilson's War order
Director:
Mike Nichols

Actors:
Tom Hanks
Julia Roberts
Phillip Seymore Hoffman

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A womanizing, little known congressman gets caught up in the Soviet war in Afghanistan. With the help of a powerful Texas widow and an eccentric CIA agent, he sets out to end the cold war.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Its hard to put your finger on why this film wasnt great, but when it was over, I just felt like something was missing. It had a spectacular cast, a capable director and a wonderful story, but when they were all put together, it just didnt work as well as it should have. Despite my best efforts, Im just not sure who to blame. Everyone seemed to have done their job, but the lack of focus distracted from what should have been a great film.

The story is what I found to be the best part of the film and it wasnt explored fully enough. The whole idea of one guy leading the effort to end the Cold War is fascinating in and of itself. The fact that its a true story is even that much more amazing. Wilson went through a lot more than what we saw on film and a further exploration into his political maneuvering would have been nice. There was also more drama between the Middle Eastern countries that was only barely touched on in the film. There was also plenty of room to make some statements on the state of politics in America. After all, how is it possible for one guy to manipulate his way into an entire war? But the filmmakers didnt address this or other serious topics and instead made the entire story seem fluffy and a little too cheery.

In fact, once the story got going, it went too fast. We went from seeing Charlie Wilson in a hot tub with some strippers to seeing him end the cold war in about 90 minutes. I think this was due in large part to the filmmakers not being sure what kind of movie they wanted. You could decipher that much from the previews. It turned out to be a comedy with a little drama mixed in, but it would have served better the other way around. The subject matter was serious, even if the main character wasnt and that fact seemed to be lost on the filmmakers at times.

Of course Tom, Julia and Phillip were great, as they usually are. The filmmakers may have relied too heavily on Tom Hanks charm to carry the film. It did carry the film, but it wasnt enough to make the film great. If they had combined his charm and acting talent with a deeply explored script and story, this would have been the best film of the year. Instead, it ended up being only a good film that felt a little empty and rushed.
THE EXTRAS
The Making of Charlie Wilsons War (17:10): A lot of credit in this featurette is heaped on Aaron Sorkin, so maybe hes to blame for the underachievement of the film. From there, they start praising everyone involved with the film. There was a little bit of time dedicated to the real Charlie Wilson and Joanne Herring, which was the highlight of the featurette. There werent too many juicy details, but I still enjoyed hearing everyone talk about the film.

Who is Charlie Wilson? (12:22): I could have used more than 12 minutes dedicated to the real Charlie Wilson, but they try to cram a lot of information into the 12 minutes. They didnt focus too much on the other characters and this DVD really needed a featurette focusing on what really happened. This was decent, but I wanted more.

There are also some Previews
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
If youre a fan of one of the big three, youll be somewhat pleased with the film. For others, youll probably feel a little let down given the subject matter and star power. Its a political film thats not very political. Overall, Id rent this one before you buy it.
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