The Last Station Blu-ray Review
PictureComing to us presented with a 1080p High Definition rendition in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 widescreen. Detail is generally fairly good, and movie is devoid of softness, edge enhancement or distracting defects, but there is a major problem with the contrast. This isn't supposed to be some over-the-top, stylish Tony Scott flick, this is a small indie drama, and the contrast is totally out of whack, broad daylight sequences looking far too black-dominated and dark for their own good. It's a little distracting, and certainly does not add to the feel of the production. The colour scheme is quite restricted, given the fairly bleak Russian setting and the time period we're talking about, but, apart from the aforementioned contrast issues, it is all rendered well. I would have expected this drama to have a slightly richer feel to it, and between the understandably muted palette and the inexplicable contrast issues it was difficult not to feel disappointed by the movie's video.
SoundOn the aural front we get a solid if unexceptional DTS HD Master Audio track which does its best with the fairly stodgy material. There's nothing here to make an audio track really stand out, but the presentation certainly does not detract from the proceedings. The dialogue is the main focal point, and always comes across clearly and coherently, largely from the centre channel, with a little from the fronts. Effects are purely atmospheric, with nothing particularly punchy or noteworthy, but enough to give the film some decent ambience. Surrounds don't exactly get a workout, but we get a few tweeting birds and background noises which give the movie a good feel. The score is perfectly suited to the material and the track, in summary, is - as stated - solid but unexceptional.
ExtrasWe get an Interview with the Director Michael Hoffman, where he takes the best part of forty minutes to provide us with a little background into the production. Focussing initially on how the project was conceived scripted and adapted for the screen, including an interesting story about how the late, great Anthony Quinn had owned the rights to the story because he had planned to play Tolstoy. Mostly anecdotal, the Director offers us some nice titbits here, but it does make you question why he could not have provided us with a full-length commentary instead. We also get a 'Conversations on The Last Station' offering, which is basically a Making-Of Documentary, complete with a glorified trailer-inspired promo introduction and plenty of cast and crew soundbites. There are a few more insightful offerings, not just from the cast (including Christopher Plummer) and crew (including the producers and the writer of the original novel - in turn based on Tolstoy's diaries), but also from a relative of Tolstoy himself, who offers an extra perspective. Far from the cheesy, fluffy making-of this extra initially felt like, this is a fairly comprehensive and meaty accompaniment to the main feature. Finally we get the Theatrical Trailer, although there are a couple of previews that play on disc startup as well.
VerdictThe Last Station is a bit of a stuffy, borderline pretentious, glorified soap drama which attempts to relay the significance of the great Russian author Leo Tolstoy through allusions and paralled storylines about the sacrifices you have to make in order to be a true Tolstoyan. It had the potential to be so much more, an authentic feel and rich cast who could have provided something far more insightful and poignant to reveal more about this significant historical figure. Unfortunately none of that was meant to be, Christopher Plummer's strong lead performance diluted by the presence of the increasingly pigeon-holed James McAvoy, the film robbed of any real message and feeling thoroughly anticlimactic by the end of it all. On Blu-ray we get a video presentation that has some contrast issues and a solid aural accompaniment that is distinctly limited by the material it promotes. There are also a couple of nice, surprisingly hefty extras to round out the disc. Fans will probably be reasonably content with this release, and those interested in Tolstoy and the surrounding themes and philosophical concepts will probably find it hard to resist a rental. But this is not quite the insightful offering that I would have hoped for. A standard period Brit drama, it is ultimately quite a throwaway affair.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £22.99
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