A group of American Desert Storm soldiers who never saw any action discover a map leading to various underground bunkers – bunkers they believe hold Saddam’s stores of treasure, including gold bullion. On the way to the cache, however, they discover that the war wasn’t everything they expected. There’s a human side to the war they never believed existed, and for all their bravado they find themselves helpless in its power. Once boisterous men find themselves shocked by the reality.
One unusual aspect of Three Kings is that it is almost entirely filmed using optical and color effects to – and I quote – "heighten emotions". Indeed, Warner even had to put a special cautionary note before the film, warning people that the film they were about to see is being shown exactly as the director intended. Sticking to the actual technical side, the anamorphic widescreen 2.35:1 presentation is detailed and flawless with no visible digital artifacts. Black levels are firmly rooted, however white levels are all over the place. Many scenes appear solarized with too much contrast and too little color, but this is apparently how it all should be. As such it’s hard to judge color properly. The dual-layered disc contains 31 chapters with the layer change occuring at 1.39 into the 21st chapter, or 1:16.06 into the entire film.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, as has become the norm. The subwoofer channel does get a decent workout during action sequences, though I found the rear channels to be fairly underused. Dialogue is easy to make out and environmental effects feel convincing at all times. I heard no problems with audio; dynamic range is good and the sometimes haunting soundtrack always comes through clear. English is the only audio track, though both English and French subtitles are available.
As usual, Warner’s feature complement on their "regular" discs surpass most other studios’ special editions. Starting off you get dual full-length commentary tracks, one with director David O’Russell, the other with producers Charles Roun and Ed McDonnell. 6 minutes of deleted scenes can be played with only production audio, or a commentary track. A 21 minute behind-the-scenes documentary is presented in full screen video and stereo sound, and provides a detailed look behind filming and production. A 10 minute tour of the Iraqi village set is also included, demonstrating the painstaking detail that went into creating the authentic realism of the film.
Three Kings includes a 13 minute Director’s video journal which gives an intimate look behind daily filming. A 7 minute interview with the director of photography provides some insight behind the many creative cinematic effects used, while there’s also a short look into the acting process with Ice Cube. On the disc are standard cast and crew biographies, production notes, photo galleries and the theatrical trailer in 1.85:1 widescreen and 5.1 audio.
Fans of this movie will find this DVD most worthwhile. Warner’s price of $25 USD is more than reasonable for a disc of this quality. This movie is rated R for strong language and graphic violence.
- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on April 16, 2000.
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
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