Cast: James Franco, Sarah Gadon, George MacKay
Release Date: August 9, 2016
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Disc Rating: 7/10
Viewers hurtle deep into the unpredictable darkness of the American dream. James Franco stars as Jake Epping, a high school teacher at a loss with his life, who wants to make a difference and do something meaningful. Encouraged by his ailing friend (Chris Cooper), Jake journeys back in time to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The story transports audiences into the world of 1960s Texas as Jake explores the multiple mysteries surrounding the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald (Daniel Webber). But Jake’s mission faces threats not only from Oswald, but from Sadie (Sarah Gadon), a beautiful librarian he falls in love with, and from the Past itself… which doesn’t want to be changed. And if the Past doesn’t want to be changed, it will push back –often violently. With something for everyone, this edge-of-your seat mystery offers an epic and emotional thrill ride.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
Based upon the novel by Stephen King, ’11.22.63’ tells the story of recently divorced schoolteacher Jake Epping (Franco) who embarks upon a journey beyond anything he could have imagined when his old friend and diner owner Al (Cooper) reveals the truth about a seemingly normal, dusty closet within the tin diner that transports anyone that enters back to the exact same moment in the year 1960. Initially reluctant to believe his friend, Jake slowly begins to accept the truth after seeing it with his own eyes and hearing the detailed explanation Al provides. Soon Al recruits Jake to assist him with a longtime plan to travel back and wait three years in order to prevent the assassination of JFK. Eventually accepting the task, Jake soon finds himself adapting to the unfamiliar world he must linger within and even finds a partner to assist with his daunting task. Perhaps the only thing Jake didn’t count on falling in love with the beautiful Sadie (Gadon) which creates a new set of problems during his journey as he must simultaneously tackle a relationship with her, while continuing on his task against the ever dangerous past which is intent on fighting back.
The novel ’11.22.63’ has remained one of my favorite Stephen King books since initially tearing through it shortly after its original Hardback release which unsurprisingly resulted in an equal amount of excitement and trepidation when beginning the mini-series adaption. The mini-series adaption fortunately keeps quite true to the novel in the areas that are most crucial and while fellow fans will undoubtedly find themselves a tad irked with a few alterations, the overall series should leave those who loved the book as much as I almost entirely satisfied. It always remains true to its inspiration while altering a few characters and situations to more adequately work within the screen formula, and coming together into a powerful, emotional and riveting tale featuring a highly capable cast led by James Franco who does an outstanding job in his portrayal of Jake, and also including Sarah Gadon, George MacKay, Chris Cooper, Nick Searcy, Josh Duhamel and a number more, nearly all of whom deliver highly capable performances in each of their respective roles. ’11.22.63’ should promptly grab the attention of newcomers to the story and fans of the novel alike, leaving both with a memorable experience that’s not likely to be forgotten any time in the near future. This is an outstanding and relatively faithful adaption that any fan of King’s work, or those interested in JFK and/or time travel definitely won’t want to miss out on.
Overall, ’11.22.63’ is a well constructed thriller and a solid adaption of a truly outstanding novel by Stephen King that should provide a thrilling and emotionally riveting tale that fellow fans of the novel as well as those who might not have had the pleasure are likely to enjoy tremendously. Featuring plenty of tension and exploring the wonderful and terrifying sides of humanity throughout time, I would highly recommend giving ’11.22.63’ a shot, especially for those such as myself who loved King’s book, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised at just how fantastic and faithful this mini-series adaption is, especially in the areas that really matter.
The Blu-ray release of ’11.22.63’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the show’s original 2:1 Aspect Ratio on all of the episodes. The rear artwork may list a 1.78:1 AR, but fans can rest assured that is merely a typo and the show is indeed presented in its original 2:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentations on each episode are quite great and deliver consistently sharp and detailed presentations that hold up impressively even during the fast paced and/or darkly lit sequences, never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected, let alone rendered indiscernible. Overall, these are solid high definition video presentations that should easily please the majority of folks.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on all 8 episodes in the series. These lossless multichannel soundtracks are quite capable, providing crisp, clean and detailed audio presentations on every episode. Occasionally utilizing all five available channels in order to fully immerse the viewer within the outstanding soundtrack selections, in addition to sending some crowd chatter and occasional action and vehicle elements throughout the various speakers, while never causing any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, these are highly capable 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtracks that deliver in every way required of them.
The Blu-ray release of ’11.22.63’ includes a sole extra. Included on the release is a Behind the Scenes Featurette titled ‘When The Future Fights Back’ (running approximately 15 minutes in length) which includes behind the scenes footage and interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus author Stephen King and more.