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Neil Young Journeys Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (96kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Run Time: 87 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 16, 2012
  • List Price: $35.99

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

In Journeys, veteran rocker Neil Young teams up with his frequent collaborator Jonathan Demme, who handles directorial duties, for this return-to-his-roots part documentary/part concert video. The film finds Young returning to his Canadian home town during his 2011 solo tour and touring the haunts of his youth, including the old farm where he grew up. Journeys manages to paint an intimate portrait of an artist who has traveled far from his somewhat humble beginnings (and I say “somewhat” owing to the fact that Young’s father is a famous Canadian author in his own right) only to return to where it all began. Looking back, Young reflects on how much has changed since he was growing up there, yet, as he says, it remains “in his head” so it is never truly lost.

The journey home for Neil Young is capped off by his appearance at Toronto’s classic performance space, Massey Hall, a place Young is more than familiar with. His own classic 1971 performance at the hall has been available for a while and is also included in his massive retrospective set, Archives Vol. 1. The 2011 performance at Massey Hall is in many ways a perfect bookend to that ’71 show. Just as raw, immediate and intimate, Young’s songs are arranged simply, for nothing more than a single guitar, electric or acoustic, most of the time, with sparse accompanying orchestration such as harmonica. Some tracks are played on piano or organ. The set list is a riveting mixture of his classics like “Ohio” and “Down by the River” or new numbers from his latest album Le Noise. The Demme direction brings you up close and personal, often thrusting the camera right into Young’s face, while the dimly-lit spartan stage set feels like an old roadside bar off the beaten track somewhere.

One thing is for certain, it may be forty-years since that classic show in Massey Hall, but Neil Young shows no signs of slowing down yet and if the performances in Journeys are any indication, to paraphrase young himself, he has no desire to either burn out or fade away anytime soon.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Demme has gone for a rather gritty look in Journeys that does work well during the musical performances, helping to heighten the sense of rawness and intimacy, but the documentary sequences suffer the most, since they just end up looking a bit middling and low quality, showing some definite softness. The transfer comes to Blu-ray in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement from Sony.

Audio Quality

[Rating:5/5]

An awesome high resolution DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (96kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is provided for Journeys that captures the live musical performances with great warmth and depth, provided deep, resounding lows that reverberate quite fully whenever Neil hits those bottom notes on his guitars. The vocals are clear as a bell and venue atmospherics are astounding. There are some occasional points where the surrounds are used more discretely as well for pinging of sound effects like echo and so forth, but it is very judiciously utilized. The documentary segments are rather straightforward, but solid, with clear dialogue and sufficient ambience.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The supplements on here are self-explanatory, offering up about an hour’s worth of interviews with Young and Demme, a brief “making-of” that isn’t much of anything and a trailer. Do yourself a favor and sit through both interview segments for some interesting conversations.

The supplements:

  • Journey to Slamdance: A Conversation with Neil Young & Jonathan Demme (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:35:35)
  • 92Y Talks with Neil Young and Jonathan Demme (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:33:32)
  • Making Journeys (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:06:35)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.78:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

An intimate portrait of an artist going home again, Neil Young Journeys is the veteran rocker on top of his musical and sentimental chops and Jonathan Demme proves he has a feel for Young’s material like no other director.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Neil Young Journeys on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Neil Young Journeys

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Purchase Neil Young Journeys on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Neil Young Journeys

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com


Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]


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