The Railway Man (Blu-ray)

August 12, 2014 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton and Matt Malouf

Plot: What’s it about?

Based on a true story, The Railway Man tell the story of Eric Lomax (Colin Firth), a former POW at a Japanese camp during World War 2. Lomax is also a self-proclaimed railway enthusiast. The story begins in 1980 where he meets Patti (Nicole Kidman) on a train. They become close, and eventually the two marry. You might see both Firth and Kidman on the front cover and be led to believe that this is entirely their story. In truth, that’s only a small portion of this story. It jumps back and forth between time-lines that it might frustrate some viewers. A large portion is devoted to a young Lomax during his time at the POW camp. Jeremy Irvine plays Eric at a younger age and bears an uncanny resemblance to Firth. The prisoners concoct a plan to rig some wires to try to make radio contact and get help. Over the course of the film, we shift between the time at the camp and Eric’s relation with Patti. She is absent for long stretches that I forgot Kidman was in the film for a while. She seeks to help Eric, as he is clearly suffering from horrible memories from the war. Stella Skarsgard plays Eric’s best friend Finlay. He tells Eric that one of the men who tortured them during the war is still alive. It’s here that the film focuses on Eric confronting this man.

The Railway Man tends to get better as it goes along. It’s certainly an interesting film, despite its unfocused narrative. I remained involved in the story, but I do wish it had a bit more focus or maybe was told in a linear fashion. I suspect I would’ve been a bit more involved had it picked a stronger focal point and stuck with it. The cast all do a good job here and things move at a fairly nice pace. The fact that it’s a true story also adds more resonance. I enjoyed the scenes at the POW camp as it showed the men all working together to try to make contact. Even though it’s told in flashbacks, there’s still a reasonable amount of tension. Ultimately, I recommend this film, but with reservations. If the structure were rearranged and told with more focus then it might’ve been more successful. Still, it’s effective and is worth watching.

Video: How’s it look?

My my, what a pleasant surprise! Admittedly I had some reservations about how this might look and, yes, I’m guilty of judging a movie by its cover. However I’m pleased to say that my initial thoughts about how this would look are completely and totally wrong and I’ll go out on a limb and say that this is one of the finest transfers I’ve seen (in a live action film) in a while. The wide 2.39:1 AVC HD image simply oozes of HD quality. Flesh tones are warm and natural, detail is amazing and showcases the lovely landscape as well as some of the not so lovely things in the film (life inside a POW camp).  Black levels and contrast are solid, I saw no errors in banding or even a shift in focus. Clearly, pun intended, this is a sight to behold.

Audio: How’s it sound?

As a compliment to the video, the DTS HD Master Audio track holds up very well on its own.  While not as in your face as some others out there, this is one of those tracks that subtly creeps up on you and makes its presence known. Yes, there are instances in which the sound stage lights up, but I was more impressed with the little nuances throughout the film. Vocals are rich and crisp, surrounds offer the warm ambiance in a majority of scenes and this all makes for a very pleasurable experience.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Sadly, there are only a couple of supplements included on this disc.

  • Audio Commentary – Director Jonathan Teplitzky and Co-Writer/Producer Andy Paterson are on board for a very insightful and informative track. Essentially everything is covered here in some way, shape or form. We learn of some of the differences from the novel, the shooting locales and even some of the costumes. It’s a great track and a perfect compliment to the film.
  • The Making of The Railway Man – If you listened to the commentary track, a majority of the information covered in this featurette will be a bit redundant, but this is actually a pretty good little feature. We get a visual on how some of the shots were done, a bit more on the history and the comparison between the real-life characters depicted in the film.
  • Digital copy

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