Perhaps the most impressive thing Peter Jackson accomplishes in this movie is to make it more than just a stunt. Where often something offbeat seems to exist just to show off, Jackson always had in mind a story about soldiers in World War I. They Shall Not Grow Old isn't there to make us amazed at the technical skill ... Jackson puts that skill to use in telling his story the best way possible.
For those who aren't aware of this film, Jackson used a hundred hours of old black-and-white footage, worked his way through hundreds of hours of interviews with soldiers, cleaned up the footage and then colorized it, and put it all together to give us a World War I we have never seen before.
It works as you would expect. The soldiers are more real to us, the war is more real, everything is more real than in a fictional film with actors. But the experience of watching They Shall Not Grow Old overwhelms your expectations. You know it will work, but you can't really be prepared for how much we are drawn in.
Jackson isn't trying to make a history of the war. He has access to footage of British soldiers, so that's who we see. He gives us the trees in the forest ... the movie is less about World War I, and more about how it felt to the soldiers in that war. You wouldn't come here to learn all about World War I. But Jackson gives us a deeper understanding of the lives of the soldiers who were fighting.
Peter Jackson's career is hard to believe. He started with splatter films. Then came Heavenly Creatures with Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey, the screenplay for which was nominated for an Oscar. After that, the Lord of the Rings trilogy. They Shall Not Grow Old doesn't seem to fit with any of these, but at this point, it's enough to just accept that Jackson has a lot of films he wants to make.