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Monday, March 16, 2009

The Kite Runner - Blu-Ray Review


Director Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland) directed this highly acclaimed film based on the novel of the same name, written by Khaled Hosseini. Adapted for the screen by David Benioff -- who showed some previous chops in the adaptation realm when he turned Homer's "Iliad" into the blockbuster "Troy" -- this simple and deeply troublesome story follows two boys growing up in Afghanistan, and the drastically different paths their lives will take.

Amir, the well-to-do, foofy, and creative Pashtun kid; and Hassan, the lowly son of Amir's family's servant, are the best of friends. Hassan, while the smaller of the two, often protects his BFF from the numerous bullies who stalk the city. But a particularly horrible incident befalls Hassan, an incident that Amir witnesses, impotently frozen in terror. Their friendship is sadly torn apart as Amir soon realizes that Hassan's presence is a constant reminder of his own cowardice. Soon thereafter, Russia invades their country and Amir's father brings him to America, and the two boys will never meet again.

Many years later, Amir, now a succesful writer living in San Francisco, has used his abject
whimpiness to achieve an almost Alan-Alda-like level of sensitivity. He's married to a lovely
lady, life is good, but a phonecall from his homeland opens old wounds, and Amir decides to return to the Middle East. Propelled by his well-deserved guilt, the sour-faced Amir dons a beard (increasing his already uncanny resemblance to a Team America marionette) and heads into the Taliban-controlled Kabul City, there he must face old demons, old enemies, and redeem himself in his own eyes.

All right, I've taken some jabs, but frankly this film does have a few good twists that I don't
want to pimp out, so I respect it enough to put a lid on some of the spoilers. Amir finally does
come to terms with his sissiness, but for me it was rather unsatisfying in its execution. And
there are more than a few clunky moments, but they are offset by some very poignant scenes, so it all comes out in the wash. There are indeed some kite-flying sequences in the film that lend the movie its title, just try not to notice that the kids are flying their kites without any actual
wind. The locations are used with great effect, although I think the art director went a little
nutty on the color sheme -- never have I seen so many vibrant colors so meticulously placed in a street bazaar, but they do serve a purpose that'll I get to in bit.

The Kite Runner, with its flaws, is a tragic but hopeful film that effectively delivers some
powerful life messages for adults to ponder, and the PG-13 rating should be heeded, probably too intense for those younger viewers. The Blu-ray DVD transfer is top notch. The picture is as sharp as my cell-mate's toothbrush shiv and the colors jumped right off of my Costco Sceptre 46-inch screen and almost splattered on my carpet. The vibrant reds, blues and yellows and oranges... okay and greens, splashed throughout the desert city sequences seem to say, "Hey, this place is more beautiful than the brown, dusty, dirty view you usually get on CNN." Even without the surround sound turned on (I only have two speakers but they're bigguns) it delivers a full audio palette. There's also some audio commentary by the writers and director, as well as other extras to fill in a lot of the details about the production. As always, with Blu-Ray, make sure you've got your HDMI cable to take advantage of The Kite Runner's full 1080p resolution. The disc also features an English, French, and Spanish language Dolby Digital 5.1 sound track for those who can take advantage of it, as well as subtitles in French, English (and SDH), Spanish, and Portuguese.