All Quiet on the Western Front (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Whether or not we were due a new adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, a few German production companies teamed with Netflix to deliver an epic, updated take on the classic anti-war story. It’s a major turn for director Edward Berger, who enlisted many talented individuals to handle things in front of and behind the camera. As a result, Berger delivered a brutal yet beautiful film that gained praise worldwide, resulting in 7 BAFTA wins, 4 Oscar wins, and strong critical regard. Now the film arrives on a combo 4K UHD/Blu-ray package, allowing the production elements to shine even brighter than on a streaming service.


A cold open sets the scene regarding how many soldiers were being taken down on both sides during WWI. The bulk of the film is set during the final year of the Great War. Four friends excitedly enlist in the Imperial German Army and are given the uniforms of fallen soldiers in the process. It doesn’t take long before life in the trenches reveals how awful the conditions are. The actual battles they become involved in push the men toward fear and desperation, as they hope to just get out alive.

This is an incredibly good-looking movie. I need to make that clear. Cinematographer James Friend rightfully won an Oscar (among many other honors) for his work on this film. Shooting in the Czech Republic and working with a $20 million budget, it’s another example of how much you can get on camera when working under the right conditions, regardless of how much money is available. The production design, costumes, and visual effects all shine in bringing this WWI era to life. And don’t get me started on makeup, as this film could easily win an award for best muddy faces, no question.

Do the incredible production values, gruesome sights, carefully structured action, and dramatic moments add up to a good film? Yes. While the source material feels as though it’s primarily abandoned in favor of just delivering a very solid war film, the results are excellent. Saying this is an anti-war film feels like a stretch, as there are really only a few genuine examples that feel like the filmmakers are doing all they can to make the brutality of war affect the viewer in ways that go beyond impressing them with the pyrotechnics that goes along with having empathy for the lives being lost. Still, it’s not as though All Quiet on the Western Front isn’t emotionally draining, given all these characters go through.

It can certainly feel a bit obvious regarding the trajectory of the main characters we follow. While that’s not a detriment, it can be difficult to invest at a level extending beyond hoping against the inevitable when considering how war movies can generally play out and what this specific film is trying to get at. However, the pure thrill of watching some of these massive battles play out, the artillery being utilized, and how aspects like the Oscar-winning score enter the proceedings.

In saying all of this, it is worth pointing out Felix Kammerer, who is ostensibly the lead actor in this film. His portrayal of Paul is incredibly worthwhile based on how his innocence is so thoroughly stripped away, and what he brings to his friendships with other soldiers, and how he handles himself in action. The fact that this is his debut performance makes it all the more impressive.

While the men on the ground is the most prominent focus of the film, a subplot does involve the higher authorities’ attempts to negotiate the end of the war. This section features Daniel Brühl (also a producer on the film), who does what’s needed. I can’t say this is the most compelling part of the film, but I can appreciate having the macro perspective when it comes to seeing how a few men can change the lives of so many based on arguments or discussions they are having within luxurious confines.

Given the amount of skill put on display, it is not much of a surprise to have seen so much praise for the film. Being a Netflix release, it is fortunate that international audiences could grab on and prop up the film to be so wildly hailed. It also doesn’t hurt that All Quiet on the Western Front lives up to this level of admiration. It’s a strong effort that serves as a modern companion instead of a remake of the Best Picture-winning film from 1930. And yes, for all the extraordinary work that made this film look spectacular, it is pretty brutal and knows how to leave an impact.


Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: UHD-100, BD-50

Clarity/Detail: What an immaculate-looking film. It’s not as though the Netflix presentation was rough on the movie, but this true 4K physical upgrade does wonders in representing the proper visual presentation. Add to that its Dolby Vision option, and what a wonder it is to see so much leap off the screen in terms of the level of detail afforded to this film. From the busy action sequences featuring many characters to the darker, smokier sequences, there’s always plenty of clarity to observe.

Depth: Many great moments abound, especially when framing the actors against the battlefields. Even contained scenes featuring groups in small spaces such as the trenches do well to communicate the dimensionality of the film.

Black Levels: The film tries to mix cool tones with the inherent grittiness of the subject matter. There are no obvious signs of crush, which allows for plenty of balance in how the darker sequences play out.

Color Reproduction: The color palette is active when it needs to be, allowing certain scenes to really pop – as a means to counter more muted moments. It all comes across quite well when looking for a range to base things around.

Flesh Tones: A strong use of close-ups allows for plenty of good representation regarding the quality of flesh tones on display. Even when characters have their faces covered in mud, it does all the more to show what’s working here.

Noise/Artifacts: This is a near-perfect transfer, though some very mild noise-related artifacts pop up during some of the battlefield sequences, given all the fog and smoke around.



Audio Format(s): Dolby Atmos German, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish, Italian, Turkish, Polish, Ukrainian, Czech, Hungarian, and Spanish

Subtitles: English SDH, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Turkish, Polish, Ukrainian, Czech, and Hungarian

Dynamics: A Dolby Atmos German track is all you really need here. It’s an outstanding presentation that is able to deliver on the all-out war taking place in these intense battle scenarios. This is honestly one of the best war movie audio tracks you could ask for.

Height: Thanks to the level of scale involved in taking on a war drama with lots of action, there’s a lot to like about how this film can balance what’s being asked of it for a home presentation.

Low-Frequency Extension: Yeah, the sub-woofer gets plenty to play with thanks to the many explosions and other sorts of firepower going off, let alone the use of the film’s score in key moments.

Surround Sound Presentation: There’s plenty taking place in terms of the machinery, vehicles, bullets whizzing by, and more that one can frequently hear, along with how the score and various other sound effects factor into this audio track. It’s all appropriately balanced, with the rear channels getting plenty to do.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is loud and clear throughout.



Perhaps Netflix wants to save a larger feature for its own service, as I know various behind-the-scenes features are available online. Regardless, there’s only one main featurette to go with a feature-length commentary. Outside of this, All Quiet on the Western Front comes packaged in a mediabook combo pack that is more along the lines of a DVD package in length, which isn’t exactly helping as far as my shelves are concerned. The liner notes featuring an interview are nice, but this could have been more conveniently packaged. There is also a Blu-ray copy with identical features on it.

Features Include:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Edward Berger- A solid commentary covering all aspects of making the film. It’s a very technical track, though enough comes through regarding thoughts behind the idea of doing another version of this story.
  • Making-Of (HD, 18:27) – A well-put-together featurette detailing various aspects of production, including the set design, costumes, visual effects, and more. The crew all participate in interviews, and the feature is presented in German and English.
  • Original Trailer (HD, 2:19)
  • US Trailer (HD, 2:19)
  • International Trailer (HD, 2:16)
  • Teaser (HD, 1:52)


What initially seemed like a potential throwaway idea managed to be an excellent new take worthy of many awards. All Quiet on the Western Front is a very strong war film that places the source material in a new light as far as exploring the horrors of combat, only made more interesting by the quality of the production. As far as this 4K UHD release is concerned, there’s a lot to appreciate about the video and audio presentation, while the featurettes leave more to be desired. Still, this is a well-made and very respectable movie that earns its high praise.

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Gamer, Comic Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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