Churchill Blu-ray Review
Duelling movies on volcanoes, Steve Jobs, asteroids, Wyatt Earp, magicians, and now Winston Churchill
2017 is the year of Churchill, with John Lithgow playing him in The Crown, Gary Oldman unrecognisable as him in Darkest Hour, and here Brian Cox trying to make his own mark.It's always curious when they do dual dueling movies in one year on the same, very specific, subjects: The Prestige vs. The Illusionist; Deep Impact vs. Armageddon, and now Churchill vs. Darkest Hour. To make matters more messy, we had The Crown cover some similar territory, albeit set in the years after the War, in its depiction of the most famous Prime Minister this country has ever known. Certainly Jonathan "The Railway Man" Teplitzky's Churchill appears to be overkill, not least because it feels like it is not content telling a faithful portrayal of events and needs to introduce melodrama to spice up the proceedings.The story focuses on the build-up to D-Day, portraying Churchill as a hesitant, desperate-not-to-make-the-same-mistake-twice old tiger with no teeth, hitting a rough spot with his wife and finding no support from his military superiors on both sides of the pond. It's a curious tale, given that much of this appears to be utterly unfounded, but the film's saving grace is certainly Brian Cox's committed performance, not just for the important speeches, but for the cigar-chomping mannerisms and tiny little tics along the way. Despite its overwrought fictionalisation and ultimate pointlessness, you certainly get your money's worth with Cox.
Picture QualityLionsgate's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Churchill delivers the movie with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen.
A strong visual presentation
Although not a lavish production - apart from in brief fleeting moments - nor a particularly big budget affair, Churchill offers up low key period vibes and retains a suitably vintage feel and flavour, which comes across in every shot. From the (cigar)smoke-filled rooms to the grey-skied beaches, the film offers up a decent representation of natural environments, and promotes finer detailing on the backgrounds and subtler nuances that help lend texture to the piece. The colour scheme is understandably robbed of almost all stronger tones and primaries, given a very period feel, one which would almost be happy playing out in the monochrome it briefly dips into during the opening shots. Black levels are strong, and overall it is a clear, decent image, restrained mostly only by the limited production scale, likely to please fans but never likely to make for demo material.
Sound QualityA solid, if unexceptional, audio presentation
The disc's accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track similarly has only limited material to play with, the best of which comes in the form of quite an impassioned score which sweeps across the array and ignites your soundsystem, providing the kind of emotional undercurrent which is arguably almost more than the movie deserves. Dialogue - which is the mainstay here - is firmly prioritised across the front and centre channels, and delivered clearly and coherently irrespective of the sometimes inconsistent accents that some of the supporting cast serve up. Effects are fairly limited considering the film was set in the middle of a World War, but we do get some echoing rooms and bustling offices, as well as crashing waves and suitably tinny radio broadcasts. There's nothing particularly dynamic - beyond perhaps that aforementioned score - but it's a solid, if unexceptional, presentation nonetheless.
ExtrasA single 22-minute Featurette offers some footage of the film being shot, as well as interview snippets with the main cast and crew.
Blu-ray VerdictThe end result is fairly pointless and utterly unremarkable, but for Brian Cox
Churchill feels curiously inert, as if it either had an important tale to tell but didn't do so well, or didn't have anything to say, and so tried to embellish things with a little melodrama, ultimately still having nothing much to say. Certainly the end result is fairly pointless and utterly unremarkable, but for Brian Cox's impressive lead performance.
Lionsgate's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release delivers the goods with strong video and decent audio as well as a single decent extra, making it a solid purchase for fans to pick up.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99
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