Thursday 5 June 2014

Forest fire: "I Declare War"

The somewhat misconceived Canadian curio I Declare War relies upon a single gimmick: the dubbing of a game of capture-the-flag undertaken by a handful of pre-teens in a forest close to their homes with the sound and visual effects of a fully-fledged war movie - so that balloons explode like bombshells, and toy guns go off like Howitzers. The sensation-courting approach obscures, if not outright obliterates, the script's quiet, anthropological, quasi-Dennis Potter-ish idea about adult characteristics (loyalty, responsibility, the lust for power) manifesting in the young, and the cause isn't best served by a very ordinary crop of performers, whose turns range from the awkward to the at best functional, and at every point seem like refugees from some Degrassi (or afterschool equivalent) cattle-call. Garth Jennings' enduringly sweet Son of Rambow demonstrated that, with the right marshalling, similar material might be manoeuvred across demographic lines, and play just as well to old and young alike; this simply gets mired in no-man's-land, likely too intense for the whippersnappers, and too jejune-seeming to hold the attentions of grown-ups.

I Declare War opens at selected cinemas from tomorrow, ahead of its DVD release on June 30.

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