Journey's End Blu-ray Review

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The worst part is the waiting

by Casimir Harlow Jun 3, 2018 at 5:17 PM

  • Movies review


    Journey's End Blu-ray Review
    SRP: £14.99

    Journey's End Film Review

    100 years after the events depicted took place, Journey's End takes us back to the trenches of World War One as the young troops wait for the enemy to attack.

    The film is based on a celebrated 1928 stage play of the same name, which has actually been adapted several times over the last 90 years, possibly most memorably as the 1976 film Aces High, which transposed the ground-based infantry troop narrative to the skies but maintained the same themes of PTSD, war horror and anticipation of doom.

    Following the latest rotation of front-line troops during the last few months of World War One, who are waiting - dreading - an imminent attack from the Germans, the story trades in a building sense of impending horror. Where something like Saving Private Ryan established the horror through an intense opening assault, Journey's End builds horror through silence and the calm before the storm that everybody is waiting for - it's that wait that is killing these soldiers inside.

    A solid adaptation and a decent little World War One drama.

    Featuring a roster of strong performances headlined by Sam Claflin (Hunger Games), Paul Bettany (Avengers: Infinity War) and Asa Butterfield (Ender's Game), there is definitely a stage play feel to the dialogue, giving Claflin, for example, another solid dramatic role to sink his teeth into after Me Before You, and something to distinguish from his lightweight World War Two comedy-drama, Their Finest.

    Director Saul Dibb (Bullet Boy) does his best to imbue the feature with a sense of foreboding and palpable tension, giving it an at-times ethereal feel reminiscent even of Malick's masterpiece The Thin Red Line, making you feel like he's at once made something out of nothing, whilst also failing to quite deliver in the same way you'd expect perhaps a bigger director to deliver.

    In some ways, despite several adaptations, the story to Journey's End has arguably never been done justice, and whilst this is quite a low key, limited budget interpretation, it appears to stay faithful to the original play, and remains a solid adaptation and a decent little World War One drama.

    Journey's End Blu-ray Picture

    Lionsgate deliver the Journey's End Blu-ray to UK shores complete with a strong 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1 widescreen.

    Although it's hardly big budget territory, the modern production manages to pull off a very nicely realised period impression, imbued with the almost monochromatic bleakness that is commonly associated with war movies, but also rich in detail and palpable texture.

    A strong, frequently very good presentation.

    From the weathered uniforms to the hollow visages, finer nuances are observed well, whilst the makeshift backdrop for Normandy looks authentic enough, replete with suitably battle-damaged sets. Battle sequences are hardly epic in scale, but keen use of mist and shadow gives it a broader feel than you might expect.

    The colour scheme, as aforementioned, sees the piece intentionally robbed of anything particularly vibrant or vivid, often varying between shades of grey and shades of brown, but never looking overly stylised - instead suffused with a warm wash that merely achieves the suitably authentic period feel that is obviously intended. Black levels are strong enough, faltering only the in the extremes and rounding out a strong, frequently very good presentation that's hardly demo territory but is a solid representation of the film nonetheless.

    Journey's End Blu-ray Sound

    The Journey's End Blu-ray affords the film a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 audio track too, providing solid representation of the dialogue and score - which takes centre stage over the first act as the tension builds - and delivers more traditionally bombastic battle beats farther into the film.

    Indeed, for the majority of the film, it's the score that does the heavy lifting, providing a foreboding accompaniment that is laced with ominous tones of dread, effectively building the tension across the runtime.

    A solid audio track.

    The film often trades in silence as a weapon, as the quiet nights waiting for an attack are overshadowed by palpable dread, with sudden gunshots deafening and shocking against such a silent backdrop, and punctuating the night with weight and impact.

    For the most part, effects here are otherwise incidental, crafting a decent atmosphere for he piece before the trenches become overwhelmingly claustrophobic and all hell breaks loose, whereupon the surrounds get much more of a workout. Again, it's hardly demo quality - it's not exactly Nolan's Dunkirk - but the track is a solid accompaniment nonetheless.

    Journey's End Blu-ray Extras

    There are a few nice extras to accompany the main feature, including a Making-of Featurette - Journey's End: The Story, as well as a trio of Interviews with the three main case members.

    Journey's End Blu-ray Verdict

    Journey's End is one of several productions commemorating the 100 years since the end of World War One. It's not the first adaptation of the source novel, though it is a solid one, perhaps trading in a low key vibe that almost smacks of a superior TV adaptation, but just about saved from this through decent acting.

    A solid package.

    Lionsgate's UK Region B-locked Journey's End Blu-ray affords the film strong video and audio and a nice selection of extra features, leaving it a solid package for fans to pick up.

    Suggested retail price when reviewed: £14.99

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