Michael Scott

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1917


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Movie: :4.5stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :3.5stars:
Final Score: :4.5stars:



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Movie

I’m a bit picky on war films, especially ones relating to the two major world wars we’ve had. It’s not that I don’t like them, but that they tend to be over done and overly cliched. Back in the days of John Wayne we had TONS of WWII films, so much so that they began to be over done and rather trite. However, there are some true greats to the war genre, and some that subvert our expectations with harrowing realism. Sam Mendes’ (Spectre, Road to Perdition, American Beauty) most certainly subverts many’s expectations with with 1917, creating a a film that taut, tense, and more realistic than most war films out there. All the while keeping the action to a minimum and using stunning “single shot” photography thanks to cinematographer Roger Deakins, which results in a very unique and low key dramatic war film.

It’s April 6th, 1917, and the World War I allies are taking a breather from vicious trench warfare in France until the German’s suddenly pull back for some reason. The British forces entrenched there see this as an opportunity to strike, and set forth 2 battalions of men to lead this charge. However, British air reconnaissance sees the bigger picture and realizes that the German forces are just re-grouping with back up forces down the road in an effort to bait and trap the allied forced in their over eager assault on the retreating Germans. General Erinmore (Colin Firth) grabs two young Lance Corporals under his command, ones Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George McKay) to sneak across enemy lines and relay the new discovery to Colonel McKenzie (Benedict Cumberbatch) before the Colonel sends out the order to attack and sends both of his battalions to their deaths.

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1917 is absolutely jaw dropping, and a stunning war movie at that. It mesmerizes with the very first shot, using a distinctly close up style of film making that follows the two young Lance Corporal’s intimately. I know that there were multiple shots in the film, but Roger Deakins and Sam Mendes make it look like it is one continuous shot, just following the two boys as they sneak across enemy lines and get under fire. The style is extremely intimate and keeps the viewer firmly invested in the two lads, especially when tragedy befalls upon them. The action isn’t ever first and foremost, although we do have a few run ins with German troops, as well as a downed German fighter plane that spells doom for one of the corporals.

While the movie does have some big name actors in the credits (Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth), these big names are really there as support characters, while George McKay and Dean-Charles Chapman take the huge brunt of the character development. That’s not to say that they are not important though, as each interaction with these big names adds weight and story turning points for the two boys. Still, Dean and George are the true focus of Mendes’ story, and he keeps you so invested in the two boys that the 2 hours run time just flies by in what seems like half the time.




Rating:

Rated R for violence, some disturbing images, and language




Video: :5stars:
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Struck from a native 4K digital master, 1917 looks flawless on Blu-ray. The colors lean heavily towards earth mud browns, bright greens of the French countryside, and deep shadowy greys (although some burnished oranges and bright whites do show up here and there). The image is really crisp and clear, with no signs of any major artifacting outside of some mild black crush (especially in the underground bunker that gets detonated). The filmography that makes it look like nearly one continuous shot is razor sharp and clean, with fantastic detailing across faces and the dirty British uniforms that the Lance Corporal’s don, as well as the muddy ground. You can see actual clumps of sod and mud on the ground as well as ground into faces, palms and even into the fibers of their uniforms. Black levels are incredible, showing off tons of detail even in the heavily shadowed burning city scene near the end. Absolutely amazing.




Audio: :5stars:
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The Dolby Atmos track (found on both the Blu-ray and the 4K UHD disc) is an incredible feat of sound engineering, pulling you directly into the film from the opening scene. When the two Lance Corporal’s get their order’s and make their way up the trenches you can hear all sorts of sounds from every angle, with the overheads making themselves known quite early on as planes go overhead (the dogfight around the 25 minute mark) as well as shells and rumblings off in the distance to compliment them in the surround department. Dialog is never a problem at all, and the vocals come through cleanly and crisply in the front of the room. The quieter moments almost suck all of the sound out of the room, and make an argument for how LACK of sound can be just as effective. Bass is heavy and powerful when called upon (such as the plane crashing down into the farmhouse, or during the combat scenes). All in all, a stunning display of audio mixing.






Extras: :3.5stars:
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The Weight of the World: Sam Mendes – Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes discusses his personal connection to World War 1.
• Allied Forces: Making 1917 - Learn how the one shot, 360-degree format was executed and the pivotal role Academy Award® winner Roger Deakins served in bringing Sam Mendes' vision to life.
• The Music of 1917 - Composer Thomas Newman and filmmakers discuss the important role of the Academy Award®-nominated score.
• In The Trenches - Go behind the scenes with the cast of 1917.
• Recreating History - Filmmakers offer a detailed look at the production design challenges of recreating the First World War.
• Feature Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Sam Mendes
• Feature Commentary with Director of Photography Roger Deakins.












Final Score: :4.5stars:


1917 is a great war film, and does so by being very intimate and restrictive on the story line. It’s not some massive sweeping epic, but rather focuses on 2 single characters and the harrowing journey to deliver a SINGLE message. A message that single handedly could save the lives of over 1600 men on the battle front. It’s taught, hauntingly beautiful, and well directed from beginning to end. The Blu-ray is simply fantastic, with picture perfect video, and about as perfect an audio mix as you can get. The extras aren’t bad either, being substantially more than the typical new release (at least in today’s day and age of meager extras). Well worth checking out.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Dean-Charles Chapman, George McKay, Daniel Mays, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Colin Firth
Directed by: Sam Mendes
Written by: Sam Mendes, Krysty Wilson-Cairns
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 Core), French, Spanish DD+ 7.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Studio: Universal
Rated: R
Runtime: 119 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 24th 2020
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Recommendation: Great Watch

 

tripplej

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Thanks for the review. I will get this one. I also love war movies. :)
 

Jack1949

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I've been looking forward to this movie's release. I'll definitely check it out.

PS: I used to love John Wayne movies, either war stories or westerns. They're kind of hokey now, but at the time I was young and enjoyed them.
 

jdubs75

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Hot off the press! Looks at those 5s for video and audio. I’m excited to watch this one. Thanks Michael.

Cannot wait to receive my copy :)
 

Asere

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Thanks for the review. My wife and I watched it this weekend and really enjoyed it. The bonus features is also a good watch.
 
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