Whether you support him or revile him, you know that George W. Bush is one of the most controversial, talked about figures in the world. In Oliver Stone’s W., we’re taken on Stone’s vision of how Bush journeyed from his troubled youth to the Oval Office, and all the stops in between. W. lets us watch as Bush struggles to find his place in the world, despite a wealthy family and the advantages that come with that atmosphere. He is able to find some inspiration and ambition however, once he sets his sights on the field his father excelled in, politics. His past would make such a run seem improbable, but W. was determined to make his mark. The events shown in W. aren’t concrete truths, but at the same time, aren’t known fabrications. In any event, this is Stone’s vision of W. and how he became the President of the United States.
Oliver Stone’s W. wasn’t what I expected. I anticipated an all out assault on Bush’s persona, a no holds barred, shoot first and ask questions later approach. As it turns out, Stone isn’t as vicious as you might think. The film will still be of most interest to those who dislike Bush, but they might think Stone pulled punches. On the other side, those who support Bush will still find this to be aggressive and they would debate what elements are genuine within the film. In other words, it is clear that Stone made this movie to push his political agenda, but he doesn’t stoop as low as some might have. As far as the movie’s entertainment value, it is well made and Josh Brolin is memorable here. He isn’t the first person I’d think of to portray W., but he is good in the role. W. is going to appeal to a very specific demographic, those who disapprove of George W. Bush. If you’re in that camp, give W. a rent and if you’re not, then don’t waste your time here.
Video: How does it look?
W. is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. This wasn’t shot to look slick and polished, instead W. has a kind of high end documentary look, which is preserved here. The image is clean and sharp, much more so than the DVD, but also has some grain and softness. In other words, this won’t be your new visual demo disc, but at the same time, the intended visual design is upheld and that is what matters. The colors have a natural presence, contrast is smooth, and overall detail is solid. Again, not a dynamic visual presence, but the material is well handled.
Audio: How does it sound?
A DTS HD 7.1 option is on board, but the sound design here is simplistic, so the audio never stands out. But this mix takes what the material has and makes it sound great, so no complaints. The surrounds are silent for most of the film’s duration, but the music chimes in here and there, to spice things up a little. The main focus is on dialogue and the vocals sound excellent, with no volume errors or other concerns. Not a memorable soundtrack, but a good one. This disc also includes a French language track, as well as subtitles in English and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Stone’s audio comments are worth a listen and you can tell this was a personal project, but the level of insight isn’t where I expected it to be. Stone has some good information to share here, but he doesn’t address some of the topics I am sure viewers would have liked to known about. Still, a solid session and fans of his work should be satisfied. This disc also includes some deleted scenes, a very biased look into Bush’s politics, a brief look behind the scenes, and the film’s theatrical trailer.