WWII in HD (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Documentary / War
History Channel || NR - 470 minutes - $39.95 || January 26, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-02-01


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: NA
Writer(s): NA
Cast: Justin Bartha, Rob Lowe, Josh Lucas, Gary Sinise, LL Cool J, Amy Smart, Steve Zahn (voices)


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Featurettes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1)
  • Subtitles: NA

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.::THE FILM::.

Seventy years in the making. Three thousand hours of color film footage few knew existed. The first documentary to show original color footage of World War II in immersive HD, the world premiere HISTORY series WWII in HD uses the journals and accounts of those who served in the war’s biggest battles to create a personal, introspective, and detailed look at life on and off the front lines. — From the DVD back cover

I’ve said many times in various reviews of my fascination and respect for those who serve in the military and in particular, those who served during World War II. There can never be enough movies about WWII and cinema has shown quite a few like Patton, Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan amongst so many others. But when you can get a closer look at what these men (and women) went through, there is nothing better.

WWII in HD is one of those documentaries where you get a glimpse from the perspective (via interviews and journals) of 12 Americans fighting at various stages during the war and the hardships each endured.

The journal readings as well as the interview recollections (as the younger versions of the veteran) were voiced by assorted actors including Justin Bartha (National Treasure), Rob Lowe (“Brothers & Sisters”), Josh Lucas (Glory Road), Ron Livingston (Office Space), Amy Smart (Crank), Steve Zahn (Joy Ride) and LL Cool J (“NCIS: LA”) and narrated by Gary Sinise (“CSI: NY”) amongst others. Each provides the appropriate and dramatic ambiance and giving respect to the words of those veterans.

Overall, while not most compelling documentary I’ve seen on World War II, WWII in HD is still well worth your time as you get to hear more stories from the battlefront that you never knew before.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

There’s not a whole lot of features here but what is there, however short, are interesting. First up are some character profiles (14:56; HD) where we get more info of those chronicled in the series. Next are two featurettes: Finding the Footage (2:28; HD) in which they examine how they found the color footage that is so limited while Preserving the Footage (1:56; HD) takes a look at the restoration of said footage. Unfortunately these two featurettes are far too short as I had hoped to get a more in depth look on how the footage was restored and integrated in the series.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

WWII in HD is presented with a 1.78 aspect ratio and in 1080i high-definition. Because 90% of this series is made up of those newly discovered colored film from 70+ years ago, you’re not going to get a pretty picture... yet at the same time it is still an amazing accomplishment. There are several moments when we get to see the veterans talk about their experiences, and it’s those where the HD shines.

The series is presented with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and all in all it’s not a bad sounding track. The History Channel did add sound effects over the color footage for effect and those all had some impact while the dialogue be it the voiceovers or the veterans themselves, all sounded quite clear. A word of warning: the default setting is a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track so be sure to change that before watching.



.::OVERALL::.

WWII in HD isn’t the best documentary on the War, but between the voice acting done to bring these heroes words back to life, the interview footage with the actual veterans and just the historical nature of the stories told, this is well worth the time and cost especially if you’re like me and are interested in anything connected with World War II.