11.22.63 (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Due Out for Sale 10-Aug-2016

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category TV Drama Series Featurette-When the Future Fights Back (15:13)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 446:30
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Kevin Macdonald
James Franco
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring James Franco
Sarah Gadon
George MacKay
Chris Cooper
David Webber
Lucy Fry
Case ?
RPI ? Music Alex Heffes


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Dutch
Spanish
Portuguese
Danish
Finnish
Norwegian
Swedish
Smoking Yes, it is the 1960s
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The date 11.22.63, or more commonly in Australia 22nd November 1963, is when President John. F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The TV mini-series 11.22.63 is not another examination of the events of that day as such. Instead, it is a time travel story based upon a novel by Stephen King about a high school teacher who travels back from 2016 to try to prevent the assassination.

     Jake Epping (James Franco) is a divorced, failed author teaching high school in Maine. He hangs out at the diner run by Al Templeton (Chris Cooper), an aging ex-Vietnam veteran, who one day initiates Jake into a mystery; in the back of the diner is a closet which is a portal back in time to 21 October 1960. Al has been travelling back to investigate the people and events leading up to the assassination of J.F.K. Did Oswald do the shooting, did he act alone or was he part of a wider conspiracy involving the Russians, the Mafia, the CIA or FBI? Al has sometimes spent up to two years in the past, but has not got beyond 1962. Each time travel period he spent in the 60s is however equivalent to only two minutes in the present so he has returned a number of times, each visit the portal resetting to 21 October 1960. But Al is now dying of cancer and he allows Jake through the portal to prove he is telling Jake the truth. The catch is that Al has prepared a dossier of his leads and experiences in 1960 and he now wants Jake to complete his task, believing that with Kennedy alive the USA, and the world, would be a better place and that, for example, Vietnam would not have happened.

     With reluctance Jake accepts the task and is transported to 1960 where he discovers that the past is not necessarily set. From 1960 to 1962 Jake prepares for Lee Harvey Oswald (David Webber) to arrive back in Dallas from Russia and using his knowledge of Oswald’s movements, for example, he bugs the apartment into which Oswald and his Russian wife Marina (Lucy Fry) will move. He also follows CIA agent George de Mohrenschildt (Jonny Coyne), who may be Oswald’s handler. In this time Jake receives a helper, Bill Turcotte (George MacKay), gets a job teaching at a high school with principal Deke Simmons (Nick Searcy), who becomes a friend, and falls in love with the librarian at the school, divorcee Sadie Dunhill (Sarah Gadon). His main enemy, however, is not human, but time itself; the past does not want to be changed so obstacles, some life threatening, occur to detour and threaten Jake as well as put Bill and Sadie in harm’s way. There are also other characters, including a hobo with a yellow card in his hat, who appears at regular intervals and tells Jake “you should not be here.”

     Time travelling to the past is always a fascinating concept to examine with its “what if’s” and the implications of actions impacting on the future. In the case of 11.22.63 there is also the added interest of fictional characters interacting with historical characters and real events, especially an event so well documented and remembered as the assassination of JFK. 11.22.63 as a series widens the narrative to add a romance and Sadie and Jake’s problems with Sadie’s ex-husband in the mix, as well as a more sub-plots, such as the tentative relationship between Bill and Oswald’s wife Marina. There are also amusing moments as Jake talks to 1960s people about events that have not happened, much to their confusion. He also bumps into real life people, such as Jack Ruby in a nightclub, quotes the lyrics to a Beatles song to impress a girl or steals the plot of The Godfather to provide a back story for himself as well as financing his 1960s self by betting on the fights where he already knows the winner! Through Jake, the series also confronts the segregation that was still practiced in the south.

     While the period detail, including the fabulous 60s cars, helps to keep 11.22.63 interesting, the series does not really develop the paradoxes inherent in time travel except right at the end while the hook of such a well know event as the assassination is also a problem; we know the event towards which the series is heading but with all the focus on romance and the other sub-plots the series feels drawn out and it seems to take forever to get to the climax. When the show does get to November 1963 the tension and pace increases considerably and the final episode, covering the day of the assassination, features a well-staged reconstruction of the Kennedy motorcade past the Dallas Book Depository as Jake and Sadie try to get to Oswald. To avoid spoilers I will not say what happens except that the series heads off into a couple of twists, your acceptance of which will govern if you feel the series is worthwhile or not. Oh, and those who believe in conspiracy theories and multiple shooters on 22 November 1963 will get no support from 11.22.63.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     11.22.63 is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original broadcast ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG 4 AVC code.

     This is a recent TV mini-series, filmed using digital cameras, so detail is as clean and sharp as one might expect. Colours, especially the greens and blues of exteriors are rich and natural, and some of the 60’s cars have very bright colours, while many interiors are more muted. Blacks and shadow detail very good, skin tones natural, brightness and contrast consistent.

     I noticed no marks or artefacts.

     Subtitles available are English for the Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Finnish, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice of English DTS HD-MA 5.1 or Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1.

     Dialogue is mostly easy to understand. The surrounds and rears added music, ambient sounds such as insects, crowd and bar noises and weather effects. There was also some pans involving passing cars. The sub-woofer added depth to the music and thunder.

     The original orchestral score by Alex Heffes was dramatic and it was augmented by frequent inclusions of 1960’s music.

     I did not notice any lip synchronization problems.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

When the Future Fights Back (15:13)

     This is a better than average making of. It features series, on set and archival footage plus comments by Executive Producers J. J. Abrams, Stephen King and Bridget Carpenter, cast James Franco, Daniel Webber and Sarah Gadon, the costume designer, art director and prop master taking about the period, the society and the impact of JFK plus the changes between the novel and the mini-series.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our Blu-ray of 11.22.63 is identical to the US release and includes the FBI anti-piracy warning.

Summary

     11.22.63 has a fascinating premise; time travel combined with a well-known event that had ramifications around the world. This is a potent combination but what 11.22.63 really wants to be is a love story across the ages, wasting the premise, while the ending is as contrived and sentimental as they come. I have not read the Stephen King novel so don’t know how much the series deviates from it, although as King is credited as Executive Producer of 11.22.63 he is seemingly content with the treatment. Your enjoyment of the series probably depends on your acceptance of the twists at the end.

     The video and audio are fine. The single extra is decent and is the same as is available in other regions.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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