Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
I Declare War: Kids Get Their War On
War—what is it good for? At least it gets these brats out of the
house. That will be a blessing for their
parents. Unfortunately, the youngsters
will have to endure the ridiculously simplistic tactics of allegorical cinema
in Jason Lapeyre & Robert Wilson’s I
Declare War (trailer
opens tomorrow at the Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers.
Completely free of adult supervision, a
group of kids play regular capture the flag war games in the forest near their
exurban homes. PK is a young war movie
junkie who has always commanded his troops to victory. He finally thinks he has met a worthy
opponent in Quinn, who clearly shares PK’s understanding of military strategy,
until the promising general is fragged by his own troops. Having captured PK’s best friend Kwon, the
resentful Skinner was not about to squander an opportunity for some
Initially, we see the kids trudging
about with crude makeshift stick-and-twine guns, but soon they are replaced with
very real looking assault weaponry. They
sound like the real deal too, but no actual blood is shed during their
skirmishes, aside from their grenades (balloons filled with red paint). However, there is nothing imaginary about the
pain Skinner inflicts on Kwon.
Yes, it is jarring to watch young kids
toting assault rifles and blasting away at each other, allowing fantasies to
intrude on ostensive reality, but after half an hour or so, we just so get the
point already. Frustratingly, the film
does not really have anything left in reserve after these initial shocks. Arguably, it might have been a more engaging
film if Lapeyre and Wilson had embraced the story of a truly epic capture the
flag contest rather than tried to remake Lord
of the Flies again.
To their credit, Declare’s young ensemble is completely credible and fully committed
to their roles. On the downside, their
characters are never very well fleshed out.
Basically, we have PK, the slight of stature general with a Napoleon complex,
Kwon, the loyal best friend, their resentful loser nemesis, as well as the scheming
chick, the annoying kid, the other annoying kid, and the other other annoying
is a compelling example of detailed world
building at the child’s eye level. It sort
of resembles what it might look like if Full
Metal Jacket broke out in the middle of Moonrise Kingdom. Despite the strength of its
ground game, the film is still saddled by the clunkiness of its teaching
moments and the blandness of most of its characters. For those intrigued by the provocative
imagery, I Declare War opens tomorrow
(8/30) at select Alamo Drafthouses nationwide, including Yonkers in New York
and Littleton in Colorado.
Labels: Anti-war films