I had been holding out on getting this set, waiting first for a wide screen version at a reasonable price. Then came the announcement that HBO was going ot release it on Blu-ray, so another wait on getting this. But it was finally released on November 11th, Veteran’s Day here in the USA, Rememberance Day in the British Commonwealth and Western Europe, more than vaguely appropriate.
I had preordered this through Amazon, for about 50% off retail, which made it a real bargain. This is HBO’s seminal series (produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg) covering the story of Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne from D-Day to the end of the Second World War. Based on the excellent book by Stephen Ambrose (controversy aside), this 10 episode series was so well done, in all aspects, that it should be considered “must see TV” for anyone over the age of 12.
It is not always an easy show to watch. Then again, it’s not supposed to be. It is a warts and all account of the men of Easy, the highs and lows, and the changes that they went through. The Blu-ray format, especially with a decent surround sound system, truly enhances this experience for the viewer.
First off, I must speak about the sound, The Dolby digital sound is simply incredible. Case in point, I was watching Episode 7 I think (The defense of Bastogne), and as the attack began, I found myself actually ducking as you can quite literally hear the bullets whizzing past your head, or the mortar and artillery shells screaming down at you.
Unable to avoid repeating myself, the picture is super clear, and you can see just about any detail you care to look at. Some poeple I’m sure will complain about some sections having a “grainy” look to them. This is not a defect, or a problem with the format, or a bad quality print. It is intentional, a cinematic “trick” to give an “aged” look to some scenes, especially close ups.
But the real value here is in the extras. Unlilke many DVD’s, Bluray or regular, the Band of Brothers set has extras that are more than worth while. In fact, to get the absolute most out of this set, you will want to watch the series three time, in its entirety. You will not be disappointed.
First, watch the series with out any extras. This will allow you to more fully enjoy not only the series itself, but the extras as well. Second, you watch the series with the “maps” extra turned on. This feature gives you an interactive map of the progress of Easy Company, and how the episode in question relates to it. Third time through, turn on the “In their own words” feature. This is the gem of the extras. With this feature turned on, you will get Picture in Picture (PIP), interview segments from the actual Easy memebers talking about the events of the episode. This is priceless stuff really.
In addition, there is the usual extra type stuff to be had. A documentary on the making of the series, and some additional interviews with the members of Easy company. These extras should not be over looked, but as stated, are not the real special features of the set.
All in all, I can find no fault with his set.