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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > WWII > War > Cable TV > Mini-Series > Band Of Brothers (HBO Blu-ray)

Band of Brothers (HBO Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B+     Sound: A-     Extras: B     Episodes: B+

 

 

HBO over the past decade or so has made some of the most memorable series and miniseries to ever hit the airwaves.  From The Sopranos too From the Earth to the Moon, HBO has been a forerunner in well produced, creative television through and through.  One of the most important and memorable editions to the HBO creative catalog is the epic WWII series Band of Brothers.  Having been released on DVD years and years ago, Band of Brothers is no stranger to people’s home theater collections, but now that it is on an all new High Definition format with explosive extras, fans have reason to relive the passion and comradery all over again.

 

As a brief synopsis, Band of Brothers is a 10 part miniseries that follows the story of the 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, US Army known as Easy Company.  The series is based on the best selling book of the same name by Stephen E. Ambrose.  Band of Brothers was constructed using the actual words, stories, letters, and journals of the men of Easy Company who lived through the trying events of WWII.  Their bravery and hardships are chronicled throughout the 10 part HBO masterpiece that is not only griping and emotional, but presents the historical events with such reverence and fluid accuracy that it is hard to look away.  We get to learn who the men are and what made them tick.  They were an elite group of riffle men who were trained to be the best, but never could have dreamt of what awaited them on the shores of France on D-Day.  The men of Band of Brothers are what legends are made of; being modern day Ulysses’ of their own right.  We follow the troop of varied personalities from boot camp in 1942 right to the end of the war at Hitler’s mountain hideaway known as The Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden.

 

Each disc in the set includes 2 episodes and are as follows:

Disc 1: Currahee/ Day of Days

Disc 2: Carentan/ Replacements

Disc 3: Crossroads/ Bastogne

Disc 4: The Breaking Point/ The Last Patrol

Disc 5: Why We Fight/ Points

 

 

Every episode of Band of Brothers is amazing, flat out.  The series is full of an innumerable amount of layers, ranging from the deeply emotional too the shockingly violent.  From the mouths of the men who lived it we get to experience WWII as it has never been seen or heard before (besides perhaps Saving Private Ryan).  We generally think of the heroes of WWII with great respect and awe, but many don’t take the time of how they got to become heroes.  Band of Brothers spells it out perfectly and that is not an easy task.  The series is overwhelming well done and the Blu-ray experience only kicks it to the next level.

 

The brigade of technical features on this HBO Blu-ray set are fantastically well done.  The picture is presented in a 1080p/VC-1 encoded 1.78 X 1 Anamorphic Widescreen that maintains the washed, gritty nature of the series; while taking the HD image to the next level.  Far superior to the DVD release that came before it, this Blu-ray features an image with upgraded colors, enhanced details, deep inky blacks, and excellent skin tones throughout.  The image moves smoothly across the screen, highlighting even the smallest detail.  The series was intended to have a degree of grit and grime, with washed backdrops to heighten the wartime atmosphere, but always seemed a tad overwhelming on the previous DVD release.  The Blu-ray finds a nice balance between intended digital noise and crisp detail to make the series a great edition to anyone’s Blu-ray collection.  The sound is projected in a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround track that is even better than the picture.  Throughout every scene the sound fluidly moves across the soundscape with precise directionality that prioritizes each bullet and battle cry with the utmost care.  The sound is practically flawless as it maintains wonderfully crisp dialogues, distinct ambient noises, and ‘booming’ action sequences in each episode without exception.  Save a few minor issues with the image being subjected to an overuse of Digital Noise Reduction (DNR); from beginning too end the technical features are among the best.

 

Many of he special features on the Band of Brothers Blu-ray are the same as those found on the previously released DVD edition, but with the plethora of extras offered no one will be complaining.  On top of the extras that already appeared on DVD there are a number of Picture-In-Picture interactive features only present on each heroic Blu-ray episode.  We Stand Alone Together: The Men of Easy Company is an extra feature that is presented in High Definition and is by far the best special feature on the set.  The documentary features the survivors of Easy Company recounting the true events that inspired the mini series in their own words.  There is no over the top sentimental dribble or sappy violin music, the documentary is presented truthfully from the mouths who lived it; with a number of other historical experts reconstructing the events of all those years ago.  There are three other special features presented in standard definition entitled The Making of Band of Brothers, Ron Livingston’s Video Diaries, and Premiere in Normandy.  The special features deliver just what their titles states as they follow the making of the series, display how the epic scenes were recreated with cast and crew, and finally looks at the premiere event in Normandy.

 

The Picture-In-Picture HD special features go on to include an interactive timeline that takes the miniseries to the next level as each episode (everyone) includes new featurettes, interviews, and more.  The first new High Definition special feature is entitled In the Words of Easy Company: Picture-In-Picture Commentaries that gives the viewer a deeper look at the men of Easy Company as they describe the accuracies and inaccuracies of the series with their real life stories of both heroics and horrors.  The second new HD feature is entitled In the Field With The Men of Easy Company: Interactive Guides; a feature that includes a huge amount of actual WWII footage, Military abbreviations/slang, interactive maps/field guides, and more.  Though it may seem tedious to sift through the additional 20 hours of extra features that were added this new Blu-ray set, they are well worth it.  Not only was the series amazing to begin with, but these features give the men and events of Easy Company a whole new dimension.

 

This is a must series for everyone and anyone.

 

 

-   Michael P. Dougherty II


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