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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on June 27, 2004
While critics (and audiences) were somewhat lukewarm in their response to this film when it was first released, I enjoyed it. Although it's a "black comedy", it never veers too far into total comedy or total darkness. DeVito's narration helps to hold the film together and keeps it from degenerating into a series of mind-numbing retaliations. The film is visually appealing, with interesting camera angles and a solid sense of composition that is often lacking in comedies. The movie has held up well and does not appear as dated as many films from the same time.
Douglas plays his role of a rather self-important and arrogant know-it-all quite well, and Turner is equally convincing as she exhibits growing distaste for him.
The DVD has a very good video transfer. The sound is surprisingly good for a 2-channel source, with reasonably good directionality in the front speakers.
There's a montage of deleted scenes that are arranged in chronological order so that it's easy for the viewer to mentally insert them in their proper place in the film. Unlike some deleted scenes, these have the same video and audio quality as the film itself.
Overall, this is a nicely done DVD of an under-appreciated film.
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VIDEO:

War of the Roses arrives at blu ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 1.85:1 encode. It is directed by Danny DeVito, who intentionally wants a softly photographed picture with a darker lean, thus retaining the cinematographic intent with a pleasing presence of grain, keeping the viewing experience filmic with little overt filtering. Details are there, from the tchotchkes that litter the Rose household to the thinness of fabrics, accentuating certain wardrobe naughtiness from DeVito. Facial response is excellent, with natural skin tones. (4/5)

AUDIO:

The 5.1 DTS-HD MA sound mix is fairly modest for a manic creation as this, maintaining a primarily frontal presence that makes little time for surround play. Dialogue is crisp and tight, with accurate separation. In 1953, Alfred Newman composed and recorded the 20th Century Fox Fanfare "with Cinemascope extension". In 1989, his son, David Newman re-recorded the fanfare for "The War of the Roses" in order to have the last note of the fanfare segue seamlessly into the first note of the opening titles music. Very clever! But the overall soundtrack is not outstanding. (3/5)

TRIVIA:

Oliver Rose (Michael Douglas) cuts the heels off his wife's (Kathleen Turner) shoes. In Romancing the Stone, Jack Colton (Douglas) cut the heels off Joan Wilder's (Turner) shoes.

While shooting the scene where Michael Douglas (Oliver Rose) and Kathleen Turner (Barbara Rose) are sitting in the chandelier, director Danny DeVito pretended to break for lunch while the two actors were 30 feet above ground. I wonder who had the last laugh.

PACKAGING:

There is only one BD-50 disc. But it has an excellent 26-page booklet, containing interesting insights into the story, the production, and the stars with many beautiful pictures. There are many quips in the booklet, and let me quote:

“Once in a lifetime comes a motion picture that makes you feel like falling in love all over again. This is NOT that movie.”

“A deliriously mean-spirited free-for-all…Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner are evilly enchanting!”

I gather that the Filmakers Signature Series has no special meaning other than Danny DeVito’s signature is on the front cover.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

For some unexplicable reason, I skipped from my War of the Rose laser disc box set directly to this blu ray release. The title of the movie is rather clever: The War of the Roses (Oliver and Barbara Rose). Ever since Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile, I love the chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. They work in perfect “harmony” in this melodrama. Although the video and audio are not top-notched, the movie nevertheless is very enjoyable. According to director Danny DeVito the first assembled cut of the film ran 3 hours and 4 minutes! I pre-ordered this movie when the price dropped to $16.99 from $17.99, then rose to $21.99, and now it is gone down to $19.99. The price is still reasonable, and this set is recommended. The ending will send chills up your spine.
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on May 12, 2004
The 1989 film "War Of The Roses" was the product of Danny Devito who conceived the idea. He directed the film and it stars Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas. Their relationship in the film is nothing like their earlier partnership in Romancing The Stone. Here, the Roses are at war, in a modern parody of the historic British War Of The Roses, Tudors and Stuarts whose emblems were white and red roses. They are fabulously rich, they met traveling foreign lands and buying antiques. She's an experienced gymnist and he's a wealthy executive. Eventually, their love life and marriage falls apart and a divorce, long-lived and bitter, ensues.
The entire film is about that terrible divorce. It's a bit of a downer for happily married couples but it's still an enjoyable film as far as social satire and dark comedy. It's not really possible for any couple to conduct their divorce in the spiteful, nasty way these two go at it. Michael Douglas ruins his wife's dinner party, runs over her cat, and later Douglas eats his own dog which she had made into dinner. Their fighting becomes an all-out war, enacted inside their million dollar estate. At one point, they are hanging for dear life on a chandelier. Danny DeVito plays the lawyer and he is delivering absolute comedy. Remember, DaVito was a great choice for comic roles. Does anyone remember his partnership with Arnold Schwartznegger in the movie Twins ??
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on August 20, 2003
How do you hold on to someone who want stay and how do you get reed of someone who want leave?
Oliver and Barbara (Douglas and Turner) meet at the auction. With instant chemistry between the two they are soon married. Typical American family - perfect house, 2 children, work-slave husband and bored wife. As time goes by, Barbara realizes that she no longer likes Oliver and asks for a divorce. Unfortunately for her Oliver is still crazy about her, but agrees to give her the divorce. And as we all though this would be just another civilized split, all hell breaks loose. Barbara wants to keep the house that she found and decorated, but Oliver (who paid for it) will not give it up either. And after an advice from his lawyer (DeVito) he moves back into the house. While Barbara is determined to get Oliver to leave and Oliver is trying to rekindle the romance, there civilized coexistence quickly becomes very interesting.
Believe it or not I have not given much of the movie away. Yes, you now know what the basic story is, but to watch it is a completely different. Three of the return after two successful movies and deliver performances that's unmatched by anything else in there carriers. This film is one of the darkest comedies you'll ever watch. And I believe that everyone should watch it at least once. It'll make you think twice about a lot of things in life. Absolutely brilliant. An ending that will stay with you for a long time.
And when a person making $400.00/hr wants to tell you a story for free, you should listen to it.
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on January 19, 2003
When a young intelligent couple (Two-Time Oscar Winner:Micheal Douglas & Kathleen Turner), who did feel in love at first sight, then they got married and and then they have two children. While the husbadn is a successful lawyer and living in a large house that his wife found for him and thier children. But years later... when the wife knows that the marrige isn't working anymore-she wants a divorce and she wants the house. The husband refused to let her go and the house, he goes on a war with her, they become very protective of the house and also rising hell. But when both of them are taking a increasingly dark and dangerous path, it seems to be no redemption for this nasty twosome.
Directed by Danny DeVito (Throw Mamma from the Train, Death to Smoochy, Duplex) made a clever, somber comedy with an edge. Douglas & Turner are fabulous in this mean-spirited movie. Devito has a supporting role as Douglas's calculationg guidance lawyer. Cleverly written by Micheal Lesson (I.Q., What Planet are you From, The Tuxedo) from a novel based by Warren Alder (Random Hearts). This was one of the Biggest Hit of the Winter of 1989. This has excellent cinematography by Stephen H. Burum (The Untouchables, Casualties of War, Raising Cain). This film does Over the Top and at times, Too-Much even for a Black Comedy but it's DeVito grand (odd) style from the camera Point of View is one of the film best asset, this unique film is a matter of personal taste, it's a well done film. Grade:A.
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on August 23, 2002
The best screen teaming of the '80's, being Danny DeVito, Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas are together once again to create one of the most bizarre films of the last decade or so. Michael Douglas stars as the ambitious lawyer with a beautiful wife and two chubby kids, but as time goes by his wife opens up her own business and the kids lose weight. And then she says that she wants a divorce, something which he can't seem to fathom. Going so far as asking if she's sleeping with a woman!
What starts out as something that happens to thousands of couples each year becomes a battle that Goliath would run from. The 'comedy' of this film stems from the battle they are wagering over the house. She wants 'the house and all of it's contents, except for your shaving gear, and, his clothing?' He says that he paid for the house and it's contents so it's his. That's when things turn truly ugly: he urinates over her fish course which she prepared to impress her clients, she destroys his imported English car, not to mention the fate of all those beautiful and priceless antiques that decorate the house.
The film's climax may stun a few people, but at the heart of this is a cautionary tale: love never lasts for ever. Well, not if lots of money is involved, it won't!
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on August 9, 2002
Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas star in this movie with a chemistry greater than either of their previous films together, namely Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile. Their shared screen time is filled with a frenzied mixture of passion, anger, lust, devotion, and resentment, a relationship that, however abstract and unrealistic it is skewed in this movie, reflects what's left of a lot of relationships once the lust leaves the marriage, or once a couple finally spends some time together (i.e. after the kids have left the nest).
It has been a long standing joke that once the kids go to college or leave the nest, many spouses find themselves wondering: "Who the hell did I marry?" Things that were never noticed now are found nagging; a sensitive husband suddenly becomes controlling; a neat homemaker suddenly becomes obsessively compulsive; a mother, now that her duties are cut, becomes anxious to get out of the house. This is exactly what this movie relates, from the Roses' passionate meeting, to their years of "struggle" as Douglas' character builds his career to support his growing family, to their subsequent wealth and success, and finally a lull is reached when they are wealthy and suceessful, yet they have nowhere seemingly left to go.
One of the things that a lot of viewers seemingly miss while watching the movie is the greater picture- the Rose's marriage was one built on attraction and lust. While that has been enough to sustain many marriages, this is not the case here. After the lust leaves the marriage the couple begins to notice every irritating thing the other half does, which is what happens in a lot of marriages. The difference here is that their personalities, both being uncompromising, ambitious, and, yes, more than a tad sadistic, cause Turner's and Douglas' characters to take things past the point where any realisic (i.e. amiable) seperation is possible.
Perhaps it is just me, but if anything I find this movie to affirm marriage, as long as it takes place out of mutual love and respect, not just lust. Sure this movie delivers plenty of shock power and may leave you with a feeling of bitterness, but overall this, as Devito's character (a lawyer and the narrator) mentions, is a "cautionary tale." Keep that in mind and you will find yourself wriggling in your seat with laughter and shock from the onscreen antics as Douglas and Turner terrorize each other onscreen.
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on April 12, 2002
The four terms in the heading sums up this film. Interestingly enough, in one of the special features--a deleted scenes montage--DeVito introduces the montage (as the director) and comments on how most comedies are about an hour and a half and this one was special; it's almost two hours.
Too long. The acting is excellent, no question. And there are some funny bits and some sarcasm that definitely works. But watching the twosome constantly throw stuff at each other, insult each other, destroy everything in sight, and otherwise abuse one another--over and over again--eventually gets pretty tiring.
DeVito's brief interludes, as he narrates the tale to an unsuspecting about-to-be-divorced silent guy, are welcome breathers from the endless barrage. The 80s materialism thing is done fairly well here--especially when Michael Douglas takes a leak on Kathleen Turner's gourmet fish recipe--but within a short time the point is made and there's nowhere to go but down. Or just to keep going.
And that's what happens. It keeps going and going and then like the (in)famous bunny, except with severe arthritis, it finally, gratefully, stops. You breathe a sigh of relief when it's over; then, possibly, you wish you hadn't started in the first place.
One of the big problems here is a total lack of warmth--even at the beginning when things are supposedly lovey-dovey. You don't feel that. There's attraction and lust and then, poof, lawyerdom and marriage and kids. That's it. And then the fighting starts.
For a smarter movie about 80s materialism and marital strife, see The New Age with Judy Davis and Peter Weller. It's not on DVD, but it's much sharper without being nasty.
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on January 4, 2002
Before a communal pre-9/11 family-and-peace zeitgeist set in, "American Beauty" shook audiences to the core with it's chillingly real look behind our friends-and-neighbors' outwardly tranquil existence. Years before that Oscar-winning new classic, "The War of the Roses" dealt with many of the same themes in more satirical and explosive ways, with claws bared and punches traded between the couple in question.
"American Beauty" hit close to home through its "everyman" Lester Burnham point of view, and its laughs were of the nervous, too-close-for-comfort variety. But at the time of its release, the marriage depicted in "The Roses" was so prepousterously extreme and foreign to most audiences, the film was both hailed and reviled as a sort of anti-family anti-Christ. "The Left" loved Kathleen Turner's empowerment wife and tit-for-tat vengeance against the equally malicious Michael Douglas, while the Religious Right pointed at the film's mean-spiritedness as a sad indictment on the state of "Family Values."
Today, after "American Beauty" lay bare the new realities of familial strife, and as Americans themselves confront issues like terrorism, hatred and discrimination in unprecedented ways, "The War of the Roses" seems almost tame. Still, this movie packs more than a few punches (and not only between the dueling Roses.) There are moments of sheer brilliance here that resonate and haunt, as well as inspired performances and frequent cliffhangers that will keep audiences both entertained and challenged. Couples are forewarned to see it together at their own risk! For sheer shock value, few celluloid moments compare to the Roses swinging (literally, and at one another) on their massive chandelier and Turner's take on the meaning of road rage. Add Danny DeVito's wise turn as the narrator, and Douglas' supreme husband role - one of his best ever - and the film SOARS.
Truth be told, audiences will flinch at some of the movie's still-shocking moments, and kids under 16 may be frightened to the point of having mom-and-pop-kill-each-other nightmares. But in the end, most of us will love this wry and wrenching laugh riot of a movie.
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on September 18, 2002
That great schism in the English succession that was to found the Tudor Dynasty ...riddled with bloody battles, brutish machinations and intrigue as it was...fair pales in comparison to the hatred that emanates off of the screen as Mr. and Mrs.Rose join battle across the entrance hall of their beautiful home. Danny DeVito narrates (and Directs) us through the carnage of this marriage, and invites us to witness the decimation of their world. Truly tough going at times...and significantly failing to secure a happy ending for us to settle back on...The War of the Roses gives these three 'Stars' the opportunity to do their best work, and they deliver in earnest. Surly one of the most remarkable 'mainstream' films given that it is billed as a comedy, and elicits such audience involvement. If you do take sides, which is almost impossible not to...be prepared to have those allegiances tested regularly, and abandoned ultimately.
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