Netflix Original Film All Quiet on the Western Front premiered on the streaming service on October 28, 2022, following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 12 and release in select theaters during October. Based on the 1929 novel by Erich Maria Remarque, the film takes place in Northern France on the front lines towards the end of World War I. The story is centered on a 17-year-old German student who forges his parent’s signature in order to serve in the army. When he gets to the front lines, he finds nothing but loss and death while stuck in the trenches fighting the French. The movie is presented in French and German languages with English subtitles.
All Quiet on the Western Front is a gorgeous presentation of cinematic imagery that’s enhanced with Dolby Vision HDR on TVs and screens that support the color spec. The film has an earthy color palette (not unlike 1917) that is rich with detail in all pixel values from shadows to midtones to highlights. The color grading is certainly one of the recognizable characteristics of the film, and just to keep with the director’s intent no additional boost was turned on within the TV settings.
The streaming image from Netflix is very good with only the slightest degradations such as banding (or what you might call posterization) in smooth gradients. At about 58 minutes there is a shot of a train at night in which headlights in the fog reveal some banding lines. Most shots though are clean with excellent contrast and detail even in low-light situations, albeit with more grain in night environments.
Overall, All Quiet on the Western Front is a great example of what the 4k premium from Netflix will get you (the subscription is currently $19.99 per month). Video streamed in bitrates around 20Mbps, which is about the same as what competing streaming services deliver. Since the movie is not available on 4k Blu-ray, the 4k stream is the best way to watch it at home.
The sound in All Quiet on the Western Front is provided in Dolby Digital 5.1 channels and is mostly a frontal approach with some immersive moments while on the battlefield. [Note: Since reviewing, Netflix has added the Dolby Atmos audio format.] Gunfire zips through surround sound speakers and voices often take on a spatial quality. When the tanks roll through, low bass levels set an immersive atmosphere best experienced with subwoofers in place.
One of the film’s other memorable characteristics (besides its color grading) is a deep bass motif that defines some of the film’s darker moments. The riff, presumably created by music composer Volker Bertelmann, is only 2-3 seconds long but hits some low notes that vibrate subwoofer frequencies with clarity.
All Quiet on the Western Front is definitely worth a watch even if you are not a fan of war movies. There are a few grotesque moments but nothing like other films of its genre, as the story is more focused on personal trauma rather than explicit imagery. If you are fan, you’ll realize Director Edward Berger had been inspired by contemporary films such as Saving Private Ryan and 1917 in the way he uses cinematography and sequencing to tell the story. But this is not a dig, but rather an observation. No film is completely original. On the technical side, All Quiet on the Western Front is right up there with other Netflix Originals that offer cinematic quality in a home theater, and even without Atmos the 5.1 channel audio provides an excellent immersive experience.
4/5 (based on Dolby 5.1 format)
Recommended: Read a review of All Quiet on the Western Front on 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray
[Editor: Review updated with revisions and added comments.]