Directors: Jason Lapeyre and Robert Wilson
Starring: Gage Munroe, Michael Friend, Siam Yu, Alex Cardillo and Mackenzie Munro
Review Written By: Michael Dalton (Prime Minister)
This film seems like one that should be tailor made for a child audience, however due to the language used in the film it is highly likely that children will not be able to see this film, at least not theatrically. While it is apparent that the language is used in the search for realism and perhaps edge, and at times may capture how kids at that age talk with one another (Something I can fairly judge being not as far removed from the age of these characters as most reviewing it will, I’ve only just turned eighteen) it all too frequently feels forced and unnecessary and only serves to obstruct this film from the people who will enjoy and relate to it most. It is also rather odd that the film seems willing to go to such places with its language, yet not with its violence. Stuck in a weird tonal purgatory, the film is removed from a younger audience with its language and not compelling enough to a more adult audience due to its lack of true interest or depth.
While the film did at times remind me of that childlike enthusiasm and imagination (“I’ve got big plans for this stick”) it never truly captured the emotions I feel that it was searching for. The game of war that the kids are playing certainly reminds me of games I played with my friends at a similar age and makes me wish I could have played this exact game (Maybe I still can…) however I think there was an opportunity for this film to be more resonant than it was. Ultimately what we are left with is watching other people play a game and that isn’t always fun, you want to be a part of the game and this film never really made me feel like part of, or care about, the action.
Writer and co-director Jason Lapeyre (Robert Wilson shares directorial duties) has come up with a great concept here, ripe with much emotional and allegorical potential, however there is never the sense that this potential is becoming realized and at 90 minutes, the film became a surprising slog as it reached its home stretch. In regards to the acting, child actors have it rough in film and a common complaint in film criticism is aimed towards young actors who aren’t up to the roles they have been given. In this film, none of the actors are as annoying as many child actors can be. While at times there may be some overacting and it’s very obvious that all these kids are ‘acting’ as opposed to inhabiting a character, for an all child cast this is a surprisingly sound film on the acting front. Sure there is no great performance but they’re all kids and that should not be forgotten. While they didn’t feel natural and didn’t have the acting chops to sell some of the film’s more forced dialogue and moments, they all gave a good account of themselves. Although I feel as if Gage Munroe may have been miscast slightly as General PK, a character who seemed like he should have been much more interesting, dynamic and charismatic than he was. Michael Friend grows into the role of Skinner quite well and considering what that character does and says, Friend did a great job in making me not cringe at some of his scenes. However the best performance of the film is by Alex Cardillo as Frost, somebody who captured the emotions that were frustratingly missing from the rest of the picture and who perfectly sold that childlike innocence and enthusiasm.
Ultimately I Declare War has a good concept, a solid cast and some fleeting moments of interest. However there was a much better, edgier film to be made here. The audience who should respond and enjoy to it most will most likely be, unjustly, shut out and the audience left won’t find enough to hang onto. For me it never captured those childhood emotions of enthusiasm and angst as comprehensively as I wanted it to and I felt any allegorical potential was missing or nowhere near as pronounced as it should have been. I found myself not interested in or caring about the characters and situations that I found false and occasionally misjudged…leading to an ultimately dull and dissatisfying experience.
Movie Parliament Rating: Fringe Party (What does this mean?)
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,
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