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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Film Review – ‘I Declare War’ in Select Theaters 8/30!

By Adam Ruhl

I Declare War, the audience darling of Fantastic Fest 2012 is rolling into select theaters on August 30th. It’s a small independent film from Canada featuring an unknown all-child cast and it’s hard to relay just how unique, honest, and entertaining this movie is by simply describing it. There aren’t any big effects or a franchise tie-in to act as a draw, however ‘War’ is a stunningly creative work that brings a kids’ game to life. It breaks with many kids’ movies in depicting the children as real people and not broad, patronizing clichés.

I Declare War follows a dozen children while they play capture the flag in the woods. As we follow the kids through this game of ‘War’, their imaginations spring to life on the screen. Sticks and logs become AK-47’s and Bazooka’s (the children were allowed to fire these weapons on set), and water balloons become grenades. If you ever played ‘War’ as a kid there’s a huge nostalgia factor in this film. There’s also plenty of real ‘Lord of the Flies’ style mayhem as the kids abuse and mildly torture each other. Whether or not the game is about to go too far culminates in a number of very tense moments.

What makes the film really stand out from its simple concept is the combination of a script that creates complex characters and screen direction that pulls some great performances from a group of largely inexperienced child actors. The characters are treated with respect and each has their own needs, goals, and point of view. The children wrestle with adult situations and emotions they don’t fully understand yet. There is an astounding amount of envy, wrath, deception, pride, and gullibility throughout the film’s 94 minutes. It’s fascinating to watch these life-shaping experiences during what adults might dismiss as ‘kids at play’.

I Declare War is also available on VOD but is worth seeing on the big screen with a lively audience, preferably at an Alamo Drafthouse (if one is nearby). I Declare War is released by their distribution wing Drafthouse Films.

I was not able to find an MPAA rating for the film but I would judge it to be at PG-13 level - with a lot of strong language and some simulated war violence. Parents may find some of the content objectionable so discretion is advised.

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