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Blu-ray Review: The Kite Runner

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The Movie
The Kite Runner is a rare movie. It’s a human drama, a true “coming of age story” as they say. The movie begins in Kabul, Afghanistan during the 1970s. It’s a thriving, lively place. All the town’s children get together to fly kites. Sometimes the kids have competitions to see who can cut down the other person’s kite.

Amir and Hassan are best friends. Amir is son to Baba, one of the richest men in Kabul. Hassan is the servant’s son. Although Hassan is technically Amir’s servant, they still share a bond as strong as two brothers might share. Amir is great at flying kites, and Hassan is the very best at running them down (to “run a kite” means to follow the kite that has been cut until it falls to the ground). Hassan seems to have a sixth sense about where the kite will land, and is always there to find it. But, being a servant means Hassan faces  dangers that Amir doesn’t.

Hassan is of a different race and religion than Amir, therefore the local boys look down on him. He is nothing better, to them, than a common dog. After Amir witnesses Hassan being raped by some of the local boys, he begins to feel guilty. But his guilt seems to turn to anger. Amir has Hassan framed for theft, and Hassan and his father are forced to leave the house.

The rest of the story follows Amir as he grows up still feeling the guilt of what he did as a kid to Hassan. The Russians invade Afghanistan, and Amir and his father have to flee to America. But, Amir soon finds out he has to go back. He has to go back to redeem himself. I will not give the reason why he has to go back, but only that as the movie says “it will make him good again.”

The Kite Runner is brilliantly acted, very well-written, and looks amazing. The landscapes of Afghanistan are breathtaking. It’s nice to get some perspective on a place other than what we see on the news. Some of the very best moments of the movie are the kite flying competitions. They are every bit as exciting as any aerial dog-fight ever filmed. The boy who plays Hassan is an especially brilliant actor. Whether or not he knew it while filming, his facial emotions to convey much more feeling than his words ever could.

Overall The Kite Runner is a dramatic, harrowing story of the love two boys shared as friends, and how one friend’s betrayal, cannot break those bonds. For everyone who has ever wronged someone, there is a way for redemption; a way to make it right. “A way to make it good again.”

The Video
Presented in its 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio, with an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encoding The Kite Runner looks spectacular on Blu-ray. A fine grain is consistent throughout the movie, but it only adds to giving the movie a rich film-like feel.

The earth tones of the Middle East cover all shades of brown, but each is distinctively noticeable here. The browns and dark yellows of the desert blend together in a rich display of color.

The kite scenes are the most impressive. While they were exciting to watch in theaters, the high definition presentation adds a completely new look to them. If you didn’t see The Kite Runner in a digital theater, chances are you didn’t see the splendor these scenes have to offer. As the colorful kites cut across the sky at break-neck speed, the eye-popping colors stay crisp and vibrant the entire time, giving the kites an almost 3D effect.

The Sound
The Kite Runner is a very dialogue driven movie, which is delivered clean and clear through the front channels. The 5.1 Dolby TrueHD does shine through in the crowded street scenes where people are milling around. The rear channels get a workout, with the ambient sound making you feel like you’re standing in the middle of a busy street in Afghanistan.

The Special Features
The film opens with a one-minute long Public Service Announcement from Khaled Hosseini about the current unrest that resides in Afghanistan right now.

“Images from The Kite Runner” is an extensive featurette covering almost every aspect of the film. From Persian dialogue used in the film to the difficulty the filmmakers had in producing the many different eras of Afghan violence. It also touches on the difficulties of filming in a Muslim region of China, and some of the state-of-the-art visual effects that went into making the spectacular kite scenes.

“Words from The Kite Runner” is a fourteen minute journey through author Khaled Hosseini’s life. He talks about the process of turning his novel into a motion picture, and also explains how the rape scene was written as a metaphor for the way Hosseini thinks the world feels about Afghanistan.

A two minute theatrical trailer is also included, and it is the only special feature presented in HD.

Ending Thoughts
The Kite Runner is an emotional, thought-provoking film showing the power of the human spirit to triumph any obstacle. It is a story of forgiveness and redemption. Some people have faulted it for being to emotionally manipulative, but I found The Kite Runner to be an endearing film.

The HD presentation doesn’t disappoint either. The deserts of Afghanistan have never looked so beautiful. The scenic shots are only comparable to the Planet Earth series in HD. But, the kite scenes really will wow in you. Sometimes HD brings out the cheesiness in bad CGI, but here, the kites look more real than ever before.

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