Peter Jackson’s remarkable documentary takes archival footage of the First World War and applies a panoply of techniques (colorization, speed changes, added sound) to those filmed records to make them look and feel contemporary, without in any way violating their essence, is a staggering film to watch. It’s the most vital piece of war cinema since Saving Private Ryan.
Jackson has done a brilliant job of bringing all this to life. When we see footage of land-mine explosions from a century ago, now shown at proper speed, with accompanying sound, they look as epically scary as nuclear blasts. Apocalypse then, apocalypse now. The message of the movie, to the extent it has one, is that this happened before, and it could happen again.
-Owen Gleiberman, Variety