The Railway Man (Blu-ray)

Railway-ManThe Railway Man is based on the World War II memoir of Eric Lomax, who is our character of focus in the film.  I found the film to look and feel a little like those “safe” movies due to its gloss, polished aesthetic.  But with the power of its performers and events depicted in the film, it proves to be a bit more than that.  For what it was, I thought it was an engaging and pretty strong film.  I was surprised in my research afterward to see how many critics found it to be merely decent and judged it as primarily that “safe” film I thought I was getting, but wasn’t delivered.  While based on a true story and a memoir, I really didn’t want to get into spoiler territories with the review, as I think not knowing what lied ahead, or how things resolved were better off a surprise when watching the film.

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Eric Lomax is a train geek who obsesses over riding them, learning them and knowing all the ins and outs.  I guess sort of how many of us film geeks are with our favorite films.  One day he meets Patti and falls in the love and the two are married.  However, Eric has a past in the military that keeps him cold with her on the subject and he has awful flashes to it.  When Eric won’t open up to Patti, she goes to his wartime friend Finlay to see if she can learn of what it is that he doesn’t think she’ll understand about his time as a POW.

The Railway Man is a rather deep and powerful tale of British officers taken into a Thai POW camp during World War II and having to “move on” with life afterward.  At first you kind of feel like this is the safe kind of movie that is well written because of its super polished look.  However, we do get some gruesome bits of torture in it and some with a pit of suggestion that makes it even more grim than had they actually shown what is going on.

When the film stars Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Stellan Skarsgard, I don’t think I have to tell you how well acted this thing is.  All three play their parts wonderfully.  However, Kidman is able to elevate a rather uninterested expositional type role to a sense of gravitas and importance.  That’s just how good a performer she is.  I was most impressed with Jeremy Irvine’s performance as the young Eric Lomax.  He has his Colin Firth mannerism’s and diction down perfectly.  I don’t think the two particularly look alike, but when you see the guy performing you can’t help but only see a young Colin Firth in what he is presenting to the material.

I found myself engaged and really drawn into The Railway Man.  Don’t just its slick polished look as just being generic, its actually a really well crafted, performed and thoughtful film.  I don’t really want to get into spoilers as this is a smaller film that I’m not sure a lot of people saw.  But, this is definitely something to pick up if you’re looking for a strong drama or a war movie.  And while you can see it coming from a mile away,  I found the film’s resolution incredibly well performed and satisfactory.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Clarity/Detail:  This is about the best you can get.  And as always with a modern Anchor Bay title, its dynamite.  Its a sharp image glowing with detail.  From every spec of dirt, water and scratch on Lomax’s glasses to the wood grain and every blemish noticeable on surfaces, its fantastic.  Its one of those “like looking through a window” images.

Depth:  There are some really great moments in the scenes with the trenches being built out as well as a few exterior bridge scenes.

Black Levels: Blacks are inky and rich.  No real crushing apparent, just the ability to enhance detail.  Its really well varied in night scenes allowing for some great shading.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bold and full.  No one color really stuck out more than the others, its very well balanced.

Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are colder in the present day and warmer in the flashbacks.  They are consistent throughout and feature an incredibly detailed picture.  You can make out every bit of texture on each performer’s face.  Its almost as if you can touch them.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean as a train whistle.

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics: For how much of a drama this movie is, it was an incredibly lively track.  Best noted when trains are going.  It fills the room with 4 walls of sound and makes you feel as if you are right there at the scene.  There is a great balance of sound, voice and score as well as great levels of pitch and volume for each.

Low Frequency Extension: Locomotives provided a nice pump into my room.  There were also some really great score hits as well.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Great usage of right to left as well as some activity going on in the background especially during the trips through the POW camp building tracks.  There’s also some random craziness in the rear during torture scenes.

Dialogue Reproduction: Loud, full and clear.  Pretty much front heavy, except for background vocals coming in from a rear speaker at a few moments.

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The Railway Man comes with a Digital Copy of the film.

Feature Commentary – With Director Jonathan Teplitzky and Co-writer/Producer Andy Paterson.

The Making Of The Railway Man (HD, 26:07) – Lisa Ling hosts this making of featuring interviews with the cast, director and historians.  The interviews are very PR friendly, but the making of is somewhat of a historical lesson too, giving it greater value than an EPK making of.

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Anchor Bay releases The Railway Man in an absolutely perfect presentation on Blu-ray.  The extras are a bit on the lighter end, but informative nonetheless.  Its a touching true story of soldiers having to live on after the travesties they’ve encountered during war and having to confront their tortured pasts, even hitting an important crossroads in the road to recovery and moving on.  It’s kind of a small film with a large impact.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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