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The War Of The Roses (Blu-ray Review)

War-Of-The-RosesIn the 80s, cinema had a comedically adventurous trio consisting of a romantic couple and its third wheel in Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito.  They had gone through some Indiana Jones-inspired adventures in Romancing The Stone and its sequel Jewel Of The Nile.  The first was a well respected and loved adventure.  The sequel’s reception left people a bit cold.  Follwing Nile and as a director, DeVito had one darkly comic venture under his belt, Throw Momma From A Train.  Instead of attempting a third piece to the Romancing The Stone series, DeVito opted to bring it together in this dark comedy about divorce featuring a legendary violent battle between the sexes to close the film out.  The film was brought to big success and many consider it the trios best outing of all.

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Film 

The War Of The Roses story is told through a narration of sorts from lawyer Gavin D’Amato.  He tells of his friends, the Roses.  Oliver and Barbara met on a day after competing heavily for an item at an auction.  How their relationship begins would ultimately be how it ended.  The couple ends up getting married and having children.  Oliver becomes a busy body concentrating on his work and never giving the appropriate time to his family.  Barbara makes family her #1 priority while trying to start a business of her own.  When Barbara decides divorce is best, Oliver becomes hellbent on not letting her get their property in the divorce.  There’s evil games played between the two and the end results in the ultimate battle for the rights to their home.

The War Of The Roses plays very well in its darkly comic ways.  Danny DeVito brings this tale to life with his well rounded crafting of all the characters in the film.  The movie not only succeeds in just darkly comic material, but it earns its results with excelling in the dramatic and screwball comedy aspects as well.  Not only is the end result of the film sadistically funny, but it also makes you feel bad as we came to really like these characters and really know them in the prior precedings.  This movie could have just been an excuse to just play around until the final act, but to DeVito’s credit, everything beforehand counts just as much.

The film also would have a hard time going off without its hitch.  The two leads in the film provide a wonderful compliment to DeVito’s direction.  Kathleen Turner turns in a career best performance.  She’s able to be lovable, vile and sympathetic in one fail swoop.  It’s quite astonishing that she started to disappear from mainstream films not too long after this one.  I guess you can say she peaked.  Michael Douglas gives us something we don’t see very often.  He’s your typical Michael Douglas through the first half of the film, but his end turn is one for the ages.  Douglas delivers a fantastically demented form of crazy to ride on til the end of the film.  It’s almost as if he’s possessed by a demon.  If there’s one thing to watch this film for its his turn here.

The War Of The Roses may be a little bit of a slow cooker for audiences nowadays but its payoff is still quite rewarding.  It’s a nice screwball comedy turned right upside its head.  Danny DeVito gives easily one of his best directorial efforts and one of the best darkly comic efforts of all time.  It’s a movie that may just be remembered for its final act, but the build and watching it all fall apart to that point is equally entertaining.  The War Of The Roses is a black comedy classic that should entertain all generations.

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Video 

Fox gives War Of The Roses some very royal treatment in its 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoding.  The film has stunning quality.  Much care and attention to detail has been applied.  It looks as if it may have been a movie taking place in the 80s shot a few years ago.  Detail is extremely high and the image comes across very three dimensional you almost feel you’re peering in a window to see this film.  Facial tones are a strong suit and consistent through every movement and shot.  Texture runs extremely high as well.  You almost feel you could touch the jackets people are wearing.  This all comes very surprising when you think of how soft this film was shot in the first place.  War Of The Roses gets about as amazing a restoration job as an older film can get.

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Audio 

The DTS-HD MA 5.1 track gives you all you really need from this movie.  It’s not an effects heavy film, so there’s not a whole lot of demand.  The score plays very nice.  When things do get to the crazy side of things in the final act, the 5.1 plays well enough.  There’s nothing wow’ing about it, but it suits the film very nicely.  It’s not as amazing as the video quality, but it compliments it well enough.  Most of the action takes place in the front speakers, but that’s very relative to the nature of this film.

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Extras 

The disc isn’t “jam-packed” with extras, but that’s also a very good thing.  The War Of The Roses contains everything a fan would ever want and need from the film with no excess.  Director Danny DeVito is very active with the bonus material a delivers himself in recalling all the importance of making this film.  He even shows up during the Blu-ray’s 20th Century Fox logo to introduce the disc and film himself.  All the bonus material except the deleted scenes appear in HD and Dolby Digital 2.0.  Included also is a 26 page booklet that has biographies, production stories and notes.

  • Feature Commentary With Director Danny DeVito – Danny DeVito gives an in depth and highly informative commentary on every knick knack regarding the film.  He’s quite good, detailed and never leaves the film in silence for too long if ever.
  • Revisiting The War Of The Roses (28:55) – Danny DeVito and James L. Brooks watch the film and give anecdotal commentary on creating it.  It’s almost a short “best of” commentary track with the two of them.  They discuss how it all came together and go through production from start to finish.  There is some stuff here already covered in the commentary, but this is more a conversation, so James L. Brooks is involved this time.
  • The Music Of The War Of The Roses (9:11) – Danny DeVito and composer David Newman discuss creating a score for a dark comedy.  Newman discusses how smoothly it was working with DeVito.  David is the son of composer Alfred Newman.
  • Deleted ScenesMontage (23:22) – A vintage featurette that has Danny DeVito entering the film fault to bring the deleted scenes.  There’s no commentary on how or why these scenes came to be removed, but there’s plenty of stuff here to see.  There’s also a vocal cameo from Rhea Perlman, too.
  • Trailers (4) And TV Spots (6)

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Summary 

Fox gives The War Of The Roses top treatment in their Filmmakers Signature Series.  A top flight video display and suitable audio make viewing this film quite marvelous.  Danny DeVito’s involvement also brings a tremendous weight to all the supplemental material.  The bonus content is engaging, highly informative and lacks any excess fat.  These featurettes have a reason to be here and aren’t just tacked on to load up a disc.  It comes with a nice booklet to top it off.  Fans of this film will be pleased and newcomers will definitely have enough here when discovering the film for the first time.


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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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