Blu-Ray Review: HBO Brings Home Best Two Mini-Series of 2008 in HD

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CHICAGO – If you haven’t seen HBO’s “Generation Kill” or “John Adams,” then you haven’t seen two of the best mini-series of the last several years and the absolute best of 2008. These are both pieces of amazing television, must-sees for fans of intense, adult drama and now available on Blu-Ray. Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 5.0/5.0

The brilliance of “Generation Kill” was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that HBO produced one of the most critically-acclaimed mini-series of all time in the stunning “John Adams” in the same year. With both titles finally available on Blu-Ray, now viewers who may have seen only one of the two or not had a chance to catch up with either can see both in the format most people watch HBO in nowadays - HD.

“Band of Brothers” has long been one of the most successful DVD (and now Blu-Ray releases) on the market and anyone who bought that set for Father’s Day in years past should pick up “Generation Kill” for the upcoming holiday. It’s the best fictional document that has yet to be produced about the nightmare in the Middle East.

Generation Kill will be released on Blu-Ray on June 16th, 2009.
Generation Kill will be released on Blu-Ray on June 16th, 2009.
Photo credit: HBO

From the creator of the brilliant “The Wire,” “Generation Kill” is based on the book “Generation Kill: A Conversation With 1st Recon Marines” by Evan Wright. As a journalist, he was trying to break down the myth that previous generations had brought to the war movie and de-romanticize combat by presenting it without commentary or idolization.

The attention to detail in “Generation Kill,” from reporters buying their own Kevlar on Ebay before going into a war zone to soldiers having to shave their facial hair so they won’t be infiltrated by an enemy not allowed to shave, is what separates the piece from the generic pack. You can feel the dirt, boredom, and anxiety of really being on the ground.

Running a total of 470 minutes, “Generation Kill” is presented on three discs with a gorgeous 1080p High Definition 16x9 1.78:1 aspect ratio picture. The video is great but the sound, presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is even better.

Exclusive new interactive Blu-Ray features include a “Military Glossary,” “Chain of Command Chart,” and “Mission Maps”. The new stuff is cleverly interactive and it’s nice of HBO to offer something to people willing to pay twice for the same mini-series - once on standard and once on Blu-Ray - but they’re nowhere near as interesting as the previously available special features.

The best featurette is “Generation Kill: A Conversation with 1st Recon Marines” but “Making Generation Kill,” “Eric Ladin’s Video Diaries,” and great audio commentaries are also included.

John Adams will be released on Blu-Ray on June 16th, 2009.
John Adams will be released on Blu-Ray on June 16th, 2009.
Photo credit: HBO

What more is there to say about the detailed brilliance of “John Adams” that hasn’t been said already? HBO’s sprawling, epic production details the life of this founding father over seven nearly-perfect episodes. John Adams guided his peers, including George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, in the design of our nation and this incredible saga brings this man back to life. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are spectacular, especially the latter, who gives one of the best TV performances in history, but the entire ensemble is ridiculously good. They’re better than most film casts.

“John Adams” has won 32 awards from various guilds and voting bodies, making it one of the most awarded mini-series in history. It won an insane THIRTEEN Emmys including trophies for Giamatti, Linney, Wilkinson, and Best Mini-Series of the Year. If you haven’t seen “John Adams,” what more acclaim could you possibly be waiting for?

Maybe you were waiting for HD. “John Adams” features HBO’s best video transfer to date with a flawless 1080p picture. The sound mix in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is similarly perfect. With “Band of Brothers,” “True Blood,” “Generation Kill,” and “John Adams,” HBO has entered the world of Blu-Ray with as high a standard when it comes to video and audio as they did in normal DVD.

Exclusive new interactive Blu-Ray features include “Facts Are Stubborn Things: An Exclusive Onscreen Historical Guide” and “Who’s Who in History: Interactive Biographies”. Additional bonus features include “David McCullough: Painting With Words” and “The Making of John Adams”. A commentary would have been nice but television this good speaks for itself.

‘Generation Kill’ is released by HBO Home Video and stars Alexander Skarsgard, James Ransone, Stark Sands, Lee Tergesen, Jon Huertas, Jonah Lotan, Rudy Reyes, Billy Lush, Chance Kelly, Eric Nenninger, Michael Kelly, Marc Menchaca, and Owain Yeoman and was written by David Simon, Ed Burns, & Evan Wright. It will be released on Blu-Ray on June 16th, 2009.

‘John Adams’ is released by HBO Home Video and stars Paul Giamatti, Laura Linney, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane, Danny Huston, David Morse, and Sarah Polley and was written by Kirk Ellis and Michelle Ashford and directed by Tom Hooper. It will be released on Blu-Ray on June 16th, 2009. content director Brian Tallerico

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