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World Without End Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit), English Audio Descriptive Service Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Arabic, French, Hindi
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: NR
  • Run Time: 389 Mins.
  • Discs: 2 (2 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: December 4, 2012
  • List Price: $75.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

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 Series

[Rating:3/5]

World Without End is author Ken Follet’s sequel to his best-selling The Pillars of the Earth. The latter was also turned into a mini-series and was a fairly enjoyable turn of medieval soap opera drama. Having never read either book, I can’t comment on the original sources. I can only go as far as to say that it has been my personal experience that the book is almost always superior to any film or TV show based on it. Comparing these two mini-series strictly on their own merits with no consideration of the novels, all one finds is the amazing similarities between the two series. The easiest path to success is to repeat what has worked in the past, at least that is the cynical view.

World Without End basically retells the story from The Pillars of the Earth with different players in a slightly different time period. Set in England during the early part of King Edward III’s (Blake Ritson) reign, just at the start of the 100 Years War, it follows the lives of the people of Kingsbridge. Like the previous series, there’s sibling rivalry between brothers Ralph (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), squire to the local Earl, and Merthin (Tom Weston-Jones), local builder’s apprentice; forbidden love between Merthin and a accused witch-turned-nun Caris (Charlotte Riley), and an ambitious monk, Godwyn (Rupert Evans) conspiring with his ruthless mother (Cynthia Nixon) to rise to power and thwart everyone’s attempts at happiness along the way.

One cannot argue with the enticement of the the salacious, though tamely so, relationships, complex conspiracies, and thickets of subplots that make World Without End somewhat of a guilty pleasure. The characters, however, may as well be taken out of a comic book, rather than a novel, their development here is so shallow. Also of note are the beautifully designed period costumes, the cinematography, and thrilling battle sequences. Still, some of the CG work does stick out like a sore thumb — shots of the castles and monastery in particular look very digital. In the end, we’ve seen this movie before. This feels like a sophomore slump, the creators trying to recapture a success by carefully treading in the same footsteps. Perhaps if you are unfamiliar with the previous series, you’ll enjoy it, but if you watched (or maybe read) The Pillars of the Earth, and the source material for World Without End, you’ll know that this is just a poor imitation.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

World Without End was shot in high definition at 1080p/24 in the ProRes 4:4:4 color space using the Arri Alexa camera. On Blu-ray in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement, it looks rather strong and clean with lots of detail and little noise. Darker scenes never get the quite obsidian depth, probably a result of keeping the floor up precisely to avoid video noise. Still, there is nuanced shadow detail. Colors, however, are rather richly saturated, especially primaries likes reds that really stand out. Mid-tones are also rather rich as well.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

A lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack is provided. It’s somewhat mild, only coming alive during some of the battle sequences and big crowd scenes, but it does have strong atmospherics and good dynamic range. The dialogue is clear, the high end sounds natural, and there is good low end “punch”.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

Only an average making-of is offered, which supplies a rosy picture of just how “great” this series is meant to be.

  • The Making of Ken Follet’s World Without End (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:24:22)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

All the period costumes, fantastic cinematography, and vicarious thrills in the world aren’t enough to arrest the feeling that this is no more than an attempt to rework Pillars of the Earth with a new cast of actors and recapture the same success. It looks and sounds excellent and the actors are good in their roles, but that’s about as far as World Without End goes in reaching the same heights.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase World Without End on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B0099116J0[/amazon-product]

Purchase World Without End on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]


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