Anthropoid Blu-ray Review
Cutting off the head of the third-in-line snake
Whilst its focused mission and limited back-plotting offer little new to the genre, Anthropoid still delivers authentic, slow-burning WWII assassination thrills.Two highly-trained Czech soldiers are parachuted into their German-occupied homeland on an important mission - to assassinate the third in-line in the Nazi hierarchy, The Butcher of Prague. Wounded, and without their contact on the ground, the two men are forced to insinuate themselves into the lives of a sympathetic Czech family, and improvise their way into an alternative plan for carrying out their mission, ever aware that their success may come at the price of their own lives, and that their mission may merely play a small part in a far grander scheme.With a couple of very tense setpieces in the second half of the film, Anthropoid is an otherwise maturely paced slow-burner, which elicits suspense from an expertly-crafted, oppressive occupied environment, and the desperate survival of the remainder of the Czech Resistance. Cillian Murphy and Jamie Dornan headline the piece, with the former playing cynical older veteran to the latter's nervous young counterpart, whilst Toby Jones provides intel, and Charlotte Le Bon and Anna Geislerova offer support as sympathetic young women whose plan to pose as romantic companions becomes all too real.
Picture QualityThere may well be some controversy here but Anthropoid's video presentation is downright ugly. The controversial aspect is that it was shot in 16mm, lending the period piece a suitably period feel, bathed in rich texture but almost impenetrable grain. This would be acceptable, were it not for the inconsistencies in the grain level, and the inconsistencies in some of the accompanying shots - normally interior close-ups - where faces become blurry, blocky and, at best, just plain soft around the edges.
The image treads all over the line between intentional imperfection and frustrating flaws
Exterior shots appear to have none of these problems whatsoever, remaining, by comparison, largely clear and well textured with decent detail and no overt problems. Indeed even on the interior front, the image quality can be quite variable; the first act is teeming with softer, blurry shots that frustrate at best, whilst the latter half is far more manageable (but also far less restricted in terms of locale).
It's obvious that the 16mm style is perfectly suited to the period, and gives it a greater sense of era authenticity, but it comes at a price that was either a part of the original source material or that has been picked up by this particular Blu-ray transfer. Either way, it's one of the least attractive modern productions, and it appears to tread all over the line between intentional imperfection and frustrating flaws.
Sound QualityThe accompanying audio comes in two distinct flavours, with the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track likely to prove the preferred choice for the majority, whilst the stereo Linear PCM 2.0 track plays second fiddle (thankfully, this is not automatically defaulted to, for once).
The audio track does its job, and does it pretty damn well
Although not a particularly loud and boisterous affair, Anthropoid provides welcome first act atmospherics and soulful scoring, then drops both in favour of more close-quarters claustrophobia; with fine observation of dialogue right down to the breaths between words. The second half is privy to more commonplace war movie activities, with gunshots, explosions and chaos erupting across the screen and across your array. The minimalistic score knows just when it's needed and, overall, the track does its job, and does it pretty damn well.
ExtrasAlthough there's a limited selection of extras, the Featurette is surprisingly meaty
Although boasting a limited selection of extra features, the headlining half-hour Making-Of Featurette is surprisingly meaty, offering up cast and crew interview snippets, a look behind the production, the shoot and the story, and accompanied by a trio of welcome storyboard comparisons dissecting three key sequences in the film.
Blu-ray VerdictAnthropoid delivers authentic slow-burning assassination thrills
The WWII drama Anthropoid offers decent plotting and suspense, in a rich period landscape, but it falters on UK Blu-ray with a strong audio presentation but a distinctly flawed video counterpart. Fans will still want to check it out, but it's certainly not pretty.
You can buy Anthropoid on Blu-ray here
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £12.99
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