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Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Battle 360° The Complete Series

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Neil Middlemiss, Oct 5, 2010.

  1. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    Battle 360° The Complete Series

     

    Studio: History Channel
    Year: 2009
    US Rating: NR
    Film Length: 9hrs, 40 Mins
    Video: 1080P High Definition 16X9 - 1.78:1
    Audio: English 2.0 DTS Master Audio
    Subtitles: English

     

    “Let's make sure history never forgets... the name..."Enterprise"."

     

    Introduction

     

    The quote at the top of this review isn’t from The History Channels addictive and fascinating series chronicling the extraordinary history of the U.S.S Enterprise as she battles in the Pacific during World War II, but rather a quote from the beloved Star Trek: The Next Generation episode ‘Yesterday’s Enterprise’. It is perfectly fitting quote to attach to this show, and a call that should be heeded that history should never forget the heroic and incredible battles fought by arguably the greatest American sea vessel and her brave crews.

     

    The war in the Pacific theater has, compared to the European and North African fronts, been relatively under told. Perhaps it is because World War II was raging across Europe and North Africa for years before Japan awakened the sleeping giant of the United States in 1942 with their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.


    America’s formal entry into the global conflict (America had been supplying aid and information to allied forces since the beginning) was swift following the devastating blow on Pearl Harbor, and though U.S. forces would engage in battle in Europe, the war in the Pacific would become the primary purview of American forces.

     

    The Show: 4 out of 5

     

    Battle 360°relies upon interviews with men who served aboard the U.S.S. Enterprises during its incredible record of battle in WWII. These men recall the brutality of war and the bravery of those who served aboard the massive vessel. The rich stories shared are accompanied by footage, photographs, and documents, and augmented by impressive computer generated imagery of the theater of war, the strategy of battle, and a fascinating recreation of the events that mark the incredible history of her service. Hearing accounts from veterans including Rear Admiral James D. Ramage, and former crew including Yeoman Willard Norberg, Roy E. Blood, and Arnold Olsen humanize the history and connect the emotional toll and pride felt by the men who served to an audience largely disconnected from this history. The series also benefits from the perspective and input from military historians who are able to provide a context of the complexity of battle strategy, a sense of the military importance of particular battles from the war, and the larger strategy of the battle for the Pacific.

     

    Written by Tony Long and Samuel Dolan, with narration by Wally Kurth, the retelling through CGI animation and urgent voice-over creates a genuine sense of tension. The sphere of war is dissected and explained and, though clinically presented at times, the true reality of war isn’t far behind. With footage of Japanese planes diving into the sea, crashing into the decks of vessels that made up the fleet of which the “big E” (as she was called) was a part, and smoke billowing from frigates and Destroyer Escorts, the violence of war is shared.

     

    The U.S.S Enterprise was a magnificent ship and the most decorated of the entire war and fought in the most vicious and deadly battles in the Pacific, including Midway and Guadalcanal, but despite a few serious blows – including being damaged enough to need serious time in dry dock, the Enterprise was a remarkably lucky vessel, surviving battles against all odds at times. Her crew – a dedicated mix of gunners, pilots, deck hands, and more – were the heart of the grand vessel and the heroes who helped her become the most decorated vessel of that war. She gunned down over 900 enemy planes and her bombers sent more than 70 enemy ships to the bottom of the sea. She was a triumph of naval might and this series honors her contributions.

     

    The Episodes:

     

    Episode 1: Call to Duty

    Episode 2: Vengeance at Midway

    Episode 3: Jaws of the Enemy

    Episode 4: Bloody Santa Cruz

    Episode 5: Enterprise vs. Japan

    Episode 6: The Grey Ghost

    Episode 7: Hammer of Hell

    Episode 8: D-Day in the Pacific

    Episode 9: Battle of Leyte Gulf

    Episode 10: The Empire’s Last Stand

     

     

    The Video:  4 out of 5

     

    Presented in its original HD-Broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1, Battle 360° looks very good. Having watched the entire 10-episode run during its original broadcast, I was impressed with the look of the show and the high quality (for a documentary series) CGI animation, and this Blu-ray presentation does that justice. The quality of the footage from WWII is commensurate with the era and conditions in which it was filmed and the state in which much of the footage was stored. The steely-ocean, gun-metal grey vessels, red, yellow, and orange explosions and flames are all beautifully presented.

     

     

    The Sound: 3.5 out of 5

     

    The History Channel’s limited run series Battle 360° comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track and it sounds good here, though the opportunity to expand upon what has been presented here is missed and could have made the audio quite the knockout. But what we have here is crystal clear, with pristing narration coming from the center channel. A dedicated LFE track is sadly absent but there is still a reasonably bass presence from the 2.0 track, and the non-specific surround sound does provide some immersion.

     

     

    The Extras: 3 out of 5

     

    Bonus Scenes and making of (29:42): Presented in non-HD, 4X3 letterboxed, a making of is sprinted through (with a look at the creation of the CGI effects), and a large number of additional scenes not contained in the original broadcast.

     

     

     Final Thoughts

     

    During its broadcast on the History Channel, the series was shown with limited commercial interruptions courtesy of the advertising partnership with Enterprise Rent-a-Car. This partnership was born from the CEO of that company having served aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, and the show and the stories of her service and her crew are presented with all due reverence.

     

    The use of CGI animation to explore the sphere of war is innovative and engaging and brings the magnitude and harshness of the battles the Enterprise fought to life. This is a terrific series for those with an interest in history and those inclined to be drawn to fascinating stories of bravery, daring, and naval cunning. This show and this Blu-ray presentation are very much recommended.

     

    Overall 4 out of 5


    Neil Middlemiss

    Kernersville, NC

     
  2. Adam Gregorich

    Owner

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    Thanks for the review Neil. I only caught part of an episode and at the time didn't realize it was a series. Based on your review I looked at the "Where to Buy" widget and saw there was someone selling it new on Amazon for $10.25 so I took the plunge. I look forward to watching the whole thing.
     
  3. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    This show is awesome fun. IIRC the second season followed Patton's 3rd Army, but I didn't catch much of it.


    Bring on Dogfights on Blu!
     
  4. Ernest

    Ernest Supporting Actor

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    Patton 360 is very good equal to Battle 360. These historical series are very entertaining and it would be good if the History Channel could expand and include other types not just WW II. Examples, Alexander's 10 year campaign to conquer Persia, Rome Julius Caesar-Octavian-Tiberius, The Trojan war, Hannibal, etc.
     
  5. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    Patton 360 will be out on Blu-Ray on October 26th - at least as part of a pack with Battle 360. I caught a couple of epsiodes of the Patton series and enjoyed it. I like the idea of exploring other conflicts in human history using the CGI animation. I would love to see WWI explored this way, and peraps the Gulf War and the Vietnam conflict. Vietnam has been explored somewhat via the Dogfights shows (similar concept), but to witness ground battles using this technique would be fascinating.

     
  6. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    That's great news! I'll await the combo pack.
     

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