Band Of Brothers
HBO Home Entertainment -
2001 - 705
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From two of the heaviest hitters Hollywood has to offer, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg teamed up with the folks at HBO to make arguably one of the best mini-series ever put on television: Band of Brothers. A chronicle of Easy Company, an elite group of US Army Airborne Paratroopers and their missions in WWII France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany, you will be hard-pressed to find a better made, more historically accurate, more wholly enveloping WWII story anywhere. With an extraordinary cast of collaborators from actor to director to producer, Band of Brothers is worth every pretty penny spent on it.
Winters and Nixon at the German surrender.
From the first days of training in Georgia to the last days of the war in Germany and Austria, this epic grabs on and doesnï¿½t let go. With roughly a dozen central characters that you learn to really root for, the young men assembled here do a wonderful job of bringing the viewer into the fold with Easy Company. From running up Currahee in the opening episode, to the fall of the Eagleï¿½s Nest in the closing one, the viewer is in the foxhole next to these men as they make history. Episodes two through seven are among the most riveting war footage I have ever seen. There is not one episode in that span where I didnï¿½t want to immediately watch the next one, regardless of hour.
The settings are brutally authentic, and the mounds of extras that they cast for some of the township sequences are all native looking. The battle sequences are nothing short of extraordinary, with more rounds expended and more teeth-rattling bass per minute than any other movie in the genre. When Easy runs into the fray to take their next objective, the vintage uniforms, weapons, and effects really make for fantastic viewing. When a man goes down, you feel the loss right along with the group. When one returns from the infirmary to rejoin the line, you feel the elation. When they are freezing in some foxhole with no ammunition and no warm socks, you want them to get re-supplied.
Each episode is prefaced by some face time with the real heroes of Easy Company (though none of the men would dub themselves as such). You get a brief glimpse (and more on disc six) of the mindset and the emotion that these men approached their jobs with then, and still take very seriously now, some nearly 60 years later. A true WWII epic, Band of Brothers is historically important in addition to being immensely entertaining. A series I locked the doors for every week when it was on HBO, I could not be happier about picking it up on DVD and locking the doors again to get the most the DTS audio and anamorphic video have to offer.
As is thankfully becoming more the rule than the exception, higher quality TV movies are going to widescreen. Frankly, for this subject matter, anything less would be unconscionable. The video here is first-rate. The hand carried camera in many scenes is a little rough at times, but it is truly the only way to capture the essence of the moment, and really lends itself to putting the viewer in the action with the men of Easy Company. The drab colors of war are nicely contrasted with things like the glaringly authentic yellow brick of Holland, the crimson banners of the Nazi regime, and the beautiful rolling green hills in the well-lit Austria of the closing episodes. Things like skin tones and black levels are admirable throughout, and I could find nothing to take offense to with regards to the video transfer.
Two words: reference quality. The audio here is simply top notch. Send the neighbors away and turn this one way up. The entire audio stage is saturated from opening scene to closing credits on all of the episodes. Not a ricochet, mortar round, or shell casing is missed. The front channels have every conceivable atmosphere effect from footfalls and machine guns to Zippo lighters and off-camera voices. The rears are always adding to the enveloping nature of this aural wonder, engulfing the viewer in the non-stop action of the battle sequences. The center performs exceptionally well, delivering all voices clearly and accurately, even in the fever pitch of whizzing bullets and building explosions. The subwoofer adds an enormous amount to the overall feel, and the discs wouldnï¿½t be the same without it. Many battle scenes throughout the series will qualify for your new demo reel.
Each of the five episode discs have a fair complement of extras in their own right. They all have text summaries of the episodes, a Field Guide containing information on the soldiers, a historical timeline, maps, a detailed chain of command, and a glossary of terms. The scene selections screens are six deep, laid out like black and white era-authentic photographs. The bonus disc contains a series index, and a respectable host of special features. Thereï¿½s a thirty minute making of that is tough to turn off, an insightful fifty-five minute on-location video diary by Ron Livingston, and the eighty minute documentary with the real faces of Easy Company which is quite remarkable. Add to that previews of all the episodes, and a teaser that chronicles all of the men, and you have a very satisfying complement of extras that is borderline incredible.
THE BOTTOM LINE
A box set with a pretty hefty price tag, Band of Brothers may not be a cheap pickup, but no DVD collection should be without it. An A-list production with plenty of historical significance, this one is a definite keeper.
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