Hotel Rwanda (Blu-ray)
Based upon the 1994 Rwandan conflict, Paul, a hotel manager who knows the benefits of keeping his friends close and his enemies even closer, is forced to fight for the lives of his family as well as countless refugees as a Rwandan dictator assassinates the Rwandan President overthrowing a peace agreement, leading to the massacring of over a million Tutsi civilians.
I’ve never been a big fan of war films. There are a couple war related films here and there that I’ve enjoyed over the years (PLATOON, TEARS OF THE SUN, THE KINGDOM) but even then I can scarcely say I’d re-watch them. Even one of my favorite shows, 24, nearly lost me a couple times when they went to foreign places and tangled with war crimes (something I mention simply because the villain here, Hakeem Kae-Kazim was also one of 24’s main villains in season 7). Add to all this the fact that it’s based on a true story and nothing drains my enthusiasm more. I know full well that the world’s a cruel, messed up place and the last thing I want to do is watch it on TV be it news or movie, so most often I avoid these types of films altogether. On that note, HOTEL RWANDA isn’t a bad film, not at all, it’s a rather powerful emotional roller-coaster ride from start to finish. It’s just not my type of roller-coaster.
Don Cheadle gives a powerful performance here, probably one of the best I’ve ever seen from him to be honest, his loyalty to his family, his job and his countrymen are admirable (if not a little naive at times). Some people say that one man can’t make a difference but I beg to differ as this one sure did. As an outsider I failed to see or understand the drastic difference between Tutsi and Hutu citizens and why it would matter, I mean they both look and seem alike to me, but then I realized something; Canadians and Americans both look and seem alike as well but are indeed different, so by that rationale it made more sense. I don’t know why anyone would want to stay in a country so torn by war or why it took so long for them to get help, but then Joaquin Phoenix dropped the most powerful line in the film while talking to Paul about people’s reactions to watching a clip of his people being butchered on TV , “They will go …’O God, that’s horrible!’ and then go back to eating their dinner.” Sad yes, but probably not very far from the truth.
HOTEL RWANDA is the story of one man’s unbreakable spirit and unshakeable resolve as he faces the impossible task of keeping his family and countrymen alive during a time of extreme crisis, violence and death. I wouldn’t wish that sort of thing on my worst enemy (well, maybe) but it sure does make for one heck of a heartfelt story. I’m also a fan of Nick Nolte and hate the fact that he’s all but vanished these days. He didn’t have a lot of screen time but he was cool when he was there. The acting was top notch all around, I can see why it was nominated for Oscars but again, it’s a dreary sort of tale (I’ll never shake that image of the road littered with bodies), one that certainly isn’t for everyone and definitely not for the faint of heart.
Video: 2.35:1 Widescreen in 1080p HD with AVC codec. This flick was well shot and looked very real, a little too real at times.
Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD in English, French and Spanish with the same subtitle options. The score was up and down but sure did build some mean tension.
Commentary (2:01:51): Director Terry George, the real Paul Rusesabagina with some select input from musician Wyclef Jean give an exceptional commentary mainly due to the fact that Paul was there and knows exactly how everything went down. Don Cheadle also weighs in for a select few scenes.
A Message for Peace: Making Hotel Rwanda (27:56): Here we’re told about the director’s friend who came to him after hearing this amazing tale and how everything came together afterward. Cheadle and the real Paul also share a few words about production, locale and realism.
“Return to Rwanda” (14:32): Here we get some back and forth between the director and the Rusesabagina family as they return to the Hotel Des Milles Collines. I can’t even begin to imagine how they must feel.
Previews: There’s a theatrical trailer for the film.