Adapted from the novel of the same name, The Kite Runneropened in limited release in December to a smattering of positive and semi-negative reviews. Despite the mixed reaction in the States, the film fared much better overseas, where it earned over half of its total box office revenue. The film, directed by Golden Globe nominee Marc Forster (Finding Neverland, Monsters Ball), is definitely one of the more moving films you will likely see all year.
Two childhood friends, Amir and Hassan, have their friendship torn apart when a violent act tears them apart. When they move apart from one another, all ties are broken until Amir gets a message to come back to his home. There he discovers what happened to Hassan after he left and the legacy he left behind. With a story that spans generations, The Kite Runner is a moving film that will leave you feeling sad and happy at the same time and undoubtedly teary eyed.
I can honestly say I had no real intention of watching this film. Despite hearing it was a solid outing, I just had no real desire to see the film solely based off of the trailer. I have never seen Forster’s other works, so I had nothing to base it off of and I really just didn’t think it was something I’d end up enjoying. Fast forward to my ejecting the disc from my player and you’ll see me with a much different tone. Not only was I attentive throughout the entire picture, I also found it one of the more emotionally moving films I’ve watched this year.
The film’s strongest point comes in the childhood moments between Amir and Hassan. We get such a deep feeling of brotherhood between the two that when they’re eventually taken apart from one another that you can really feel the hurt in both of the young boys’ eyes. We also see Hassan take the fall for something he didn’t do, which harkens back to an earlier point in the film when he said he’d do anything for Amir.
Unfortunately the film feels rather weakened at times when the adult Amir is on screen. While we start the film with him and slowly work our way up to him, by the time he returns home the film almost feels as if it’s shifted from a simple story about friendship and into a film about war and being a hero. This detracts from the overall ending to the film, which feels rather tacked together to allow Amir some closure for acting the way he did in his youth.
To be sure, Kite Runner is a remarkably entertaining and powerful film and it’s only bolstered in this respect by the actors, setting and score that we receive. Despite there being no big name actors in the production, you find yourself not caring as the performances are simply so strong. The young actors in the film do an especially strong job, with their scenes making up the meat of what makes us care about the characters and their story so much. The music in the film is also one of the strong points, with the score coming in at all of the right moments to heighten the emotion element to the maximum amount.
Despite having a run time of over two hours, the film seemingly flew by as you were so interested to see where the boy’s relationship went and why their friendship was torn apart. As always, child brutality of any kind is hard to witness and what is shown here is enough to turn ones stomach, but the atrocious act is so strong that it’s easy to see how it divided the two apart so strongly. It’s a shame that Hassan never truly knew why Amir began acting reluctant to be his friend and that alone is one of the saddest elements of the film. His eventual outcome was perhaps even worse, but I’ll leave that and the films ending for you to see for yourselves.
Overall The Kite Runner is likely to not only be overlooked on store shelves for it’s simple cover, but also because of the lack of big names. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up—either rent it or buy it, it’s a truly great film that, even with its shortcomings, will leave you feeling good about the world, even in its current state. Recommended.
The Kite Runner arrives on Blu-ray in a single disc Elite case without any slip covers or inserts (aside from the usual firmware notice). Disc art is a plain matte grey and the menus are simple and easy to navigate. The video transfer, a VC-1 encoded effort, is clean and clear and shows no signs of artifacts or compression. Really strong colors and deep blacks accompany the entirety of this film and everything about it is crisp. Audio is mostly front-focused, with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix, with only the surrounds being used in some of the more lively scenes, such as the bazaar and end fight sequence. Overall this is a solid technical package that accurately represents the film well and doesn’t hinder it in any way, shape or form.
Moving onto the extras we have a full length commentary by director Marc Forster who takes us on an informative journey through the film. He clearly is appreciative just to have been able to do the film and has nothing but praise for the cast and crew he worked with—and rightfully so, they crafted an excellent film. Forster has a few dry moments here and there but for the most part it’s an insightful commentary and worth a listen if you enjoyed the film.
The other extras are a bit on the short side. A PSA by director Marc Forster (1:16) precedes the film and is also available from the options menu, while “Words from the Kite Runner” (14:24) interviews the author of the book and talks about the book-to-film adaption process. The final extra here is “Images from The Kite Runner” (24:37), a short documentary with images collected from the production of the film. The extras for this release are short but sweet and offer an ample view into the production and creation of the film. The commentary makes up for the lack of a real making-of documentary and we get more than enough in terms of extras for a film like this. Also included is the only HD extra, the Theatrical Trailer.
Overall, like the film, the Blu-ray comes Recommended. It’s light on the extras, but for a film like The Kite Runner, it’s really all you need. Of course with this film having been released on DVD over a year ago, whether or not you upgrade to the Blu-ray edition will largely depend on how much you enjoyed the movie.
The Kite Runner arrives on Blu-ray on March 24th.