Tuesday, July 29, 2014

TV Review: House of Saddam (2008)

House of Saddam (Review)
United States/United Kingdom/2008
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Prime Instant Video
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"Yigal Naor delivers a tour de force performance..."

The ruthless rise and inevitable fall of the President of Iraq, Saddam Hussein (Yigal Naor).

The miniseries goes over several significant events during President Saddam Hussein's reign. It begins in 1979 as Saddam intimidates himself into presidency and cleans house -- that is, brutally executing the suspected traitors and promoting the loyal. It briskly skips to 1988 for the Gulf War after a conflict with Kuwait. Fast forward to 1995 and we have the United Nations' weapon inspection and a cat-and-mouse game. And, finally, the story ends with Saddam's evasive maneuvering and hiding during 2003 as U.S. forces fiercely hunt him.

The main focus of House of Saddam is of course Saddam Hussein, and it mostly succeeds at crafting his character. From what I gather: Saddam Hussein was ruthless, demanding, power-hungry and even deluded. And, it does seem fairly accurate. I wish it had more background information, though. House of Saddam abruptly drops you into Saddam's rise to power with very little buildup. Also, the story seems to be somewhat hollow as it skips over some key events or barely even mentions them. We get four key dates, but there is so much more to this story to be told. This story would've feel more in-depth as a full series, at least ten episodes.

Although Saddam is the main focus, we also get a decent look at Uday and Qusay, Saddam's sons, as well as other members of the family. Again, not all that in-depth, but decent. Thanks to the focus on character and the interesting story, the miniseries works very well as a drama. There's some great dialogue, great tension and suspense, as well as a firefight or two. All in all, it's a very entertaining and honest look at Saddam, his family, and his house. It might not be 100% accurate depending on which side of the fence you stand by, but I think it's as close as a TV show meant to entertain can get.

On the technical side, House of Saddam is great. The cast is all-around magnificent, but you have to hand it to Yigal Naor. Yigal Naor delivers a tour de force performance as the vicious yet charismatic dictator. The cinematography is great, as is the music. It's television that looks and sounds like Hollywood. The writing is fantastic; like I said, although the story is somewhat hollow, the characters and dialogue are very well written and engaging. I can say the same for the direction.

Overall, House of Saddam is a great drama miniseries. The story is very interesting and engaging, the focus on character is refreshing, and the drama works -- I guess that's the best way to put it -- it works. However, the first episode is a bit abrupt and the story can feel hollow overall due to its short length and moderate details. In other words, this could've been better as a full series instead of a miniseries.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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