Cover Art and Menus: 8/10
A pretty good cover with Clive Owen featuring prominently on the top, with him and his boys at the bottom. Of course Owen is the big draw here, so I understand featuring him here, but I am also glad that they used the three males together also, as they are really the heart of the story. The menu features wonderful shots of Australia in all of its glory.
I also want to point out the nice use of color in both the cover and the menu. There is a beautiful gold/tan that seems to permeate this movie, with shots of golden fields, and colored light, which they have captured in both the cover and the menu. Just a nice added touch, that brings all of these together. I noticed it immediately, and it is nicely done.
- The Boys Are Back: A Photographic Journey With Optional Commentary By Director Scott Hicks – This is a very nicely put together slide show that runs about 16 minutes long. It is a collection of photos form the making of the movie; a kind of behind the scenes collection that is simply beautiful. They have animated the shots to “move” in a very nice manner, that makes the slide show just flow together. Director Scott Hicks does a very nice job of talking us through some of the details that went into the movie, including the feel that he wanted to portray, as well as the little details that make the movie seem more real, like shooting in Hick’s home state in Australia. This is one of the nicer extras I have seen in a long while, and it is short and sweet, but detailed and easy to watch.
- A Father & Two Sons On Set – This is another excellent extra, which sees Simon Carr, the author of the book that this movie is based upon, as well as his two sons, as they meet with Director Hicks and the two actors that portray the brothers in the movie. It clocks in at under 2 minutes, but in that short time we are given a glimpse of just how the actors’ personalities almost mimic the personalities of Carr’s sons, who are much older now. Another powerful extra, and my only complaint is that there is not more of these great extras included on the DVD. Such good stuff makes me want more, so only 2 extras just seems unfair.
The Movie: 8/10
The Boys are Back is one of those movies that seems to take a really long time to get where is wants to go, and at the end you are not 100% sure that you know where it went. It is one of the types of movies that I think people will complain that it was “too slow” and while they are correct, the journey here is well worth the wait.
Based on the 2000 book of the same name by Simon Carr, the movie captures the story of Carr’s life as his second wife passes away. In the movie, sports writer Joe Warr (played brilliantly by Clive Owens) finds himself living in Australia with his second wife and his second son Artie (Nicholas McAnulty), who is 6. Warr is originally from England, and has moved away from his first son Harry (George MacKay) who is a teenager, ans is still living with Warr’s ex-wife. Joe finds himself struggling when his present wife dies suddenly of cancer, forcing Joe to become the sole caregiver for young Artie, who struggles to deal with his own loss of his mother.
As the two try to reconnect, Joe’s other son Harry flies in to stay with them, adding a third person to the mix. Joe, trying his best to deal with the situation, often times consults with his dead wife, who appears in front of him at times and offers advice. The struggle to work, parent, and find time to deal with his own emotions takes a toll on Joe, who drinks too much, and adopts a “just say yes” attitude, in an attempt to makes things right with his boys, and keep his family together.
The resulting mix is at times frowned upon by his family and friends, and we see the internal struggles that the boys have as they try to make the strange situation work. Joe makes decisions that are sometimes cringe-worthy, but his only real focus is on his kids.
The movie is both heart-wrenching, and at times uplifting, and the cinematography and acting are superb. Owen, and the boys are wonderful, and their relationship seems real and close and it really makes the movie work. All of the supporting actors also give performances that add to the genuineness of the movie.
The Boys are Back really hit a chord with me. I can’t say that it is excellent, and there are times when it does seem to meander too much without focus, but overall it is a strong story with strong performances, and when mixed with such a beautiful presentation, I got sucked into the whole thing. I can see how some might complain about the lack of focus and the pace at times, but if you can make it past those small issues, the Boys are Back is a wonderful film.
Audio & Video: 7/10
The cinematography that is presented in the Boys are Back is truly wonderful. The sweeping shots of Australia and bright household that is central to the movie just look inviting and wonderful, and make for a great backdrop to this type of movie. The DVD is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic wide-screen, and the presentation for a standard DVD is really well done. I loved the luminescence that is portrayed throughout the movie, and the blacks and colors are well balanced and crisp.
The audio was good also, with only a few spots where I felt things might have been better delineated. There is some really nice use of the Surround Sound speakers with outdoor wildlife, but overall this is a very well done audio package. The Boys are Back is presented in 5.1 Surround.
This movie really resonated with me, perhaps because I am a father of a young boy and a teenage daughter. I feel that this movie features great performances from all involved, and the cinematography mixed with the story are just too good to pass this up. I highly recommend this to anyone who is not afraid to sit through what at times can be a slow burner. I don’t know about watching this over and over, but I would really recommend seeing this at least once.
Overall Score 8/10