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Title: Anthropoid

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :4.5stars:
Audio: :4stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:80

While I’m a huge fan of cinema in ALL forms, wars movies are some of the hardest for me to watch. It’s not that I don’t appreciate their style or their historical significance. It’s just that coming from a military family I have a more sober opinion on the subject matter than some of the glorification that happens in film. Especially when I’ve had family members come home from Iraq and Afghanistan who are never the same (both mentally and physically). I guess you could say they hit too close to home, which is why I usually end up bawling my eyes out or else getting frustrated when the heroes turn out to be invincible super soldier ninjas. However, I do have a slight weak spot for World War II stories. There is just something completely fascinating about the weapons, the people, and the events that led up to one of the bloodiest wars in world history. The smaller stories of WWII and WWI could span countless volumes and many of them are actually being made into films (the most recent one being “Valkyrie” where there was a German plot that failed to try and assassinate Hitler). “Anthropoid” takes one of these smaller tales and dramatizes the grim story of the highest ranking Nazi official to ever be assassinate, despite his lack of coverage in the history books.

The start of World War II has just been underway and Czechoslovakia has been one of the first Eastern European nations to fall to the great war machine. However, the Czech people are NOT taking this lying down. Hitler is trying to use the nation as a war manufacturing location, but the people are slowly sabotaging his efforts and the fuhrer is forced to send his third in command (the man responsible for “The Final Solution” to the Jews), Reinhard Heydrich, to come in and oversee the operation and make sure the Czech machines are back up and running. While there he garners the famous moniker, “The Butcher of Prague”, by becoming one of the most feared and brutal lords the nation ever had.

The Czech government had previous fled the country and are residing in London while they figure out what to do. Sending in Czech paratroopers, including Jozef Gabcik (Cillian Murphy) and Jan Kubis (Jamie Dorman), they unleash one of the most important missions in WWII history. The assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in operation Anthropoid. The two paratroopers hole up with a family in Prague, slowly plotting their assassination attempt, but things are not as easy as they seem. They have to figure out a way to get to one of the highest priority targets in the Nazi ranks AND complete their mission and get out. Well, they get the first part right, but due to a glitch in their original plan, Heydrich’s assassination is barely finished, leaving the rest of the Nazi forces looking for retaliation on those who carried out the deed. Now Jan and Jozef have to find a way out of the city, if they can, and hopefully make it back home with their lives.

“Anthropoid” is not your average war movie. It is a very slow burning film that creates a steady and methodical build up toward its inevitable conclusion. The first act of the movie creates the backdrop for the famous assassination, and even though most people know the outcome, builds upwards with a crescendo of intensity that leaves you biting your nails in anticipation of the event. However, even after the event takes place the movie continues on that slow and methodical build. This time it’s toward the men’s escape from Prague and the Nazi retaliation against the murder of Heydrich. However, there is very little violence in the entire movie up until the last 30 minutes when the gloves are taken off and the paratroopers hole up in a church for a last ditch effort.

Supposedly the church scene was actually 6 hours of the troopers holding off the German troops, but in the film it seems to only be 20 or 30 minutes of battle. Something that probably translates to the limited nature of film rather than that of reality. Cillian Murphy is the standout performance here, with his intense stare and grim realism of the pair. Jamie Dorman has never been an incredible actor (or even a good one), but he does quite well as the nervous and young Jan. Luckily he’s not given a whole lot to do or speak which is a benefit in this case. Charlotte De Bon (best known for her role in “100 Foot Journey”) is adorably sweet as Jan’s lover and confidant, Marie, but I still stand behind my initial assessment of Cillian Murphy being the standout character in the film.


Rated R for violence and some disturbing images

Video :4.5stars:
“Anthropoid” is one of the few remaining movies left on the market today that is shot on film. Not JUST film mind you, but 16mm film. A stock that is not commonly used today and gives off a very textured and grainy look. However, despite being heavily grainy, “Anthropoid” is a beautifully textured film that just dazzles with a sort of old fashioned charm that isn’t seen recently. The film is graded with a very sallow yellowish color grading that gives the film a very….well… yellowish look. Skin tones can look a bit sallow and sickly at times, but in the brighter lit scenes that yellow and earthy color fades to a more natural look. A look that shows better skin tones and contrast to boot. That still doesn’t defy the fact that the movie is more than a bit dim at times, with much of the action taking place in darkened rooms away from Nazi eyes. The fine detail is beautifully done with a wonderful texture and roughhewn detail that 16mm provides. Black levels are strong with no signs of crush or washed out blacks, despite the heavy yellow color grading. Simply put, it is a magnificent looking film if you appreciate what natural film grain provides in a modern world.

Audio :4stars:
The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track on “Anthropoid” is a fairly straight forward dramatic track that doesn’t really require a whole lot of nuance, but once that still knows how to dance properly when the music starts. Dialog is centered firmly in the front center channel and balanced well with the rest of the track’s ambient noises. The surrounds get a decent workout with the city of Prague being slightly busy, and there are a few action oriented pieces of the movie (including a snowy action scene at the beginning of the film) that open up the sound stage a bit. The LFE is mild and reserved for the most part, but once again. The action does kick into high gear for a few moments and the bass knows when to play during those more boisterous scenes.

Extras :2stars:

• The Making of Anthropoid
• Storyboard to Film Comparisons

Overall: :4stars:

I’m usually very very picky about war movies as I come from a veteran family and the over glorification of the horrific events during war is something that I have a hard time dealing with. “Anthropoid” is almost an antithesis of that stereotype. Being more content to play the slow burn game and emphasis the horrors of war without becoming Tarantionish in the violence department, or “ra ra sis boom bah!” in the patriotic department either. It’s a slow moving film that relies on heavy planning and subterfuge to get to the very obvious end game. I would say that it is not a war movie for everyone due to that fact alone. It’s a fun movie, but it takes an appreciation for slow and steady buildup instead of heavy action to be enjoyed fully and a taste for a more artistic look on the situation. The audio is great and the 16mm film looks fantastic on Blu-ray. My only complaint with the package is the fairly minimal extras on board. Otherwise worth a solid rental at the very least.

Additional Information:

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Jamie Dorman, Charlotte Le Bon
Directed by: Sean Ellis
Written by: Sean Ellis, Anthony Frewin
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Universal
Rated: R
Runtime: 121 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: November 1st, 2016

Buy Anthropoid On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Solid Watch

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