WILLIAM KELLY’S WAR | REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

WILLIAM KELLY’S WAR is a little indie Aussie war movie that got some very positive praise when it snuck into cinemas for a small season at the end of 2014. Our retired Kernel Jack hit it up and his review is below. BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE – thanks to the fine peeps at Anchor Bay Entertainment we have copies, copies, copies to giveaway to you all. They have given us three copies on DVD, find out how to win below. If you don’t win you can purchase it from most decent dvd retailers as it is out now.

ORIGINAL REVIEW FROM OCTOBER 25TH, 2014

WILLIAM KELLY’S WAR looks like a low budget, independent family made film, surprisingly it actually is, and Kernel Jack, the war reviewer for Salty, attended the screening and actually enjoyed it. It is produced by Avalon Films, Fragile Films and is being released by IFM Films, sadly I can find neither the sites for these production companies working or nothing on the site promoting the film, there is also nothing on IMDB and nowhere I can obtain research of the movie, I really wanted to see if this is based on a true story, this could explain the ending Jack mentions below. The movie runs for 100mins and is rated MA15+. Enjoy Jack’s review…….all the best…..JK.

 

WILLIAM KELLY'S WAR DVD COVER IMAGE
WILLIAM KELLY’S WAR | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | DVD COVER IMAGE

 

REVIEW BY JACK KEMP

Ever heard the saying “Never judge a film by its poster?” Yeah well this film is case in point. When I first had the film thrown to me by our supreme leader Jason King, courtesy of the nice people at IFM Films, I immediately thought “Shit, here we go with yet another great story poorly executed,” But you know what? Itʼs not that bad. Itʼs actually a pretty good film. So lets dive into this review and find out why.

Synopsis: “As the Great War begins, Billy (Josh Davis) and Jack Kelly (Mathew John Davis) together with cousin Paddy (Lachlan Hume) sign on and are shipped out to serve with the diggers in Europe.
Billy, a known crack marksman is singled out to head up a highly successful sniper team. Journalist Keith Murdoch is attached to Billy’s group for press coverage of the front line. With Murdoch’s glowing reports, Billy and the boys become celebrated war heroes.
As the war drags on, the defeat at Gallipoli leads to more death and carnage in France. Billy’s sniper abilities and courage in hand to hand fighting astounds his fellow soldiers, he is awarded the Legion of Honour.
Back home, Billy’s parents (Tony Bonner, Helen Davis) confronted with lawless bushrangers who threaten their lives and livelihood and fearing they will never see their sons again begin to campaign to oppose the government conscription policy.
In Europe, Billy’s team are sent forward to harass the enemy prior to a major assault on the infamous and impregnable Hindenburg Line. Through an amazing feat of determination and courage Billy and Jack survive but Paddy is killed in action.
When Billy returns from the war he discovers the shallow grave of his father and is informed his sister (Ella Mcllvena) has been kidnapped by bushrangers.
In an explosive climax Billy finds and confronts her kidnappers.”

 

WILLIAM KELLY'S WAR MOVIE IMAGE
WILLIAM KELLY’S WAR | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | WILLIAM KELLY (JOSH DAVIS) PRE WAR

 

From the very first scene I was worried that this film was going to be terrible, with a pretty shocking soundtrack of drums with images of a girl being chased through the woods by two men, one carrying a rifle. It quickly turns light when you realise that they are actually all siblings and in fact just racing each other, kind of a pointless way to open the film. It was something I felt it could have done without, meaning there was no need to set up that something evil and sinister was about to happen, only for it to fade into light and friendly.

Itʼs in this scene we find out that Billy is an amazing shot, using just one bullet to kill a kangaroo from a ridiculous distance. When we first see these guys onscreen their performances seemed to somewhat lack believability and had that kind of uncomfortable tone in their voice, you know the kind that you hear when actors donʼt make the dialogue their own? It was here that I started to assume the worst. But right around the twenty minute mark the film really starts to lift off and evidently so did the performances, itʼs almost like the film was shot in sequence and as the shoot progressed so did the actors.

 

WILLIAM KELLY'S WAR MOVIE IMAGE
WILLIAM KELLY’S WAR | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | WILLIAM KELLY (JOSH DAVIS) PRE WAR

 

When we finally make it to the war scenes its clear this isnʼt an amateur crew, the set design in this film is very similar to that of BENEATH HILL 60. The wide shots of Gallipoli being pretty basic and minimal, but the battlefields of France were amazing. Considering it uses minimal cast and a small area to film, the filmmakers did a fantastic job at creating a believable setting.

As the film progressed into some really well shot and well performed scenes of war and violence I found myself forgetting and forgiving the earlier flaws of the film and really enjoying the story. However, around the seventy minute mark the film seems to end with all three boys being shot and wounded in an epic battle to save Jack, and what seems like an entirely separate film begins with Billy returning home to find his father slaughtered and his sister kidnapped by a ruthless group of bushrangers. It actually feels like you are watching a double feature and to be honest I really disliked the direction the director (Geoff Davis) went with these characters. It felt like the film had just peaked into a great film, only for it to drag out into a vigilante revenge film. Everything after Billy returns home just seems unnecessary.

 

WILLIAM KELLY'S WAR MOVIE IMAGE
WILLIAM KELLY’S WAR | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | WILLIAM KELLY (JOSH DAVIS) POST WAR

 

I really would have liked to have seen this part of the story scrapped and the film finish around the 90 minutes.

All in all I have to say that the cast (despite early on in the film) really did a great job at portraying what we have become to know as the Aussie spirit. Jack, Patty and Billy are very believable as brothers and I commend Josh Davis, Mathew Davis and Lachlan Hume on their performances of the characters. The director Geoff Davis, surely has created a good film although I canʼt help but feel it would be a great film if he had changed the story structure and trimmed the fat a little.

All in all WILLIAM KELLY’S WAR is a good Aussie war film, far better than the likes of CANOPY or KOKODA.

 

3 Pops

 

With special thanks to Anchor Bay Entertainment to win one of the 3X DVDs of WILLIAM KELLY’S WAR you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage), you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following questions:

What is your favourite Australian war movie and why? I can’t go past Gallipoli – still a classic.

If you do not have social media then get with the times – you can still enter, leave your entry below and email me at jking@saltypopcorn.com.au telling me you don’t have social media (you still need to enter on the website).

It is a game of skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges, said judges being the Salty Kernels.

The prizes will be sent after May 15th! Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents.