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The Way Back [Blu-ray]
(Peter Weir, 2010)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Exclusive Films
Video: Image Entertainment
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 23,581,542,584 bytes
Feature Size: 21,443,487,744 bytes
Video Bitrate: 17.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 22nd, 2011
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2188 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2188 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
English (SDH), Spanish, none
• The Journey of the Journey (30:57 in 480i)
•Trailer (in 480i)
Description: Four-time Oscar nominee, Ed Harris (Apollo 13), Jim Sturgess (Across the Universe) and Oscar nominee Saoirse Ronan (Atonement) and Colin Farrell (In Bruges) star in this epic saga of survival from six-time Oscar-nominee Peter Weir (Witness, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World). Inspired by an incredible true story, The Way Back begins in 1940 when seven prisoners attempt the impossible: escape from a brutal Siberian gulag. Thus begins a treacherous 4,500-mile trek to freedom across the world's most merciless landscapes. They have little food and few supplies. They don't know or trust each other. But together, they must withstand nature at its most extreme. Their humanity is further tested when they meet a teenage runaway who begs to join them on their quest. A compelling testament to the human spirit, this gripping wilderness adventure is "Peter Weir at his hypnotic best" (Telluride Film Festival).
Celebrated director Weir is an apt choice for the material, furthering his career observance of natural elements at war with human insistence. Weir lingers on the snow, sun, and sand, making the viewer feel the length of this journey, slowing down the picture to push viscerally through paralyzing hunger and thirst. Two hours of men suffering may not seem like an appetizing moviegoing proposition, but to truly feel the miracle at hand, one must endure the pains of passage. Slowly reduced to feral creatures (Weir makes a potent parallel to wolf behavior at one point), the group stumbles on, and we watch as sores develop, jaundice sets in, body fat is depleted, and the human form becomes a gallery of misery.
Is that soap opera knocking? Not in a Weir film. He has crafted a riveting tale that clings bravely to the integrity of its storytelling, even at the risk of emotional remoteness. It's the journey that counts, and Weir makes you feel it in your bones. His refusal to pander to the heartstrings may cost the movie at the box office. But it shouldn't deter you from watching a master at work. Resonantly shot by Russell Boyd, this artful tale of survival against the elements — radiating terror and beauty — continues Weir's fascination with characters trapped by worlds they didn't make.Excerpt from Peter Travers at Rolling Stone located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Way Back appears reasonably strong on Blu-ray from Image Entertainment despite the modest single-layered status. A higher bitrate may have brought some richness to the colors but overall the quality - detail and contrast - are pleasing if not outstanding. There is some fine grain and the terrain cinematography is impressive and the film is almost exclusively shot outdoors in natural lighting. This Blu-ray his consistent and while no 'demo' supports a worthwhile presentation. The print is, predictably, spotless and there is no disruptive digital noise. I enjoyed the film quite a lot and will credit the 1080P visuals as part of that appreciation. In short I'd say 'Solid but not overwhelming' for the new format.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
There is some separation - beyond the weather intensities - via the DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 2188 kbps. Crackling fires and sandstorms are notable. The score is composed by Burkhard Dallwitz - who hasn't any major features on his resume - but the lossless score sounds quite good. There is depth and range but while neither are reference - they support the film well.My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.
No Weir commentary which would have been a treat but a trailer and 1/2 hour featurette entitled 'The Journey of the Journey' which goes beyond some of the motions of a Making of... with some history but includes the typical sound bytes from the cast and crew. Both are in 480i resolution.
April 9th, 2011
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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