History Channel // 2008 // 470 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // September 4th, 2008
Experience a 360 degree view of World War II battles.
Using the tried-and-true computer-generated-airplanes-shooting-the-@#$%-out-of-things tactic that was perfected by Dogfights, the History Channel has crafted another military history program rendered with slick visual effects, narrated by a dude with a chip on his shoulder, and featuring interviews with former sailors, pilots, and Marines that say stuff like "You took it to the U.S. and we're like, time to beat your f -- -ing skulls in!" (paraphrased)
I have not made private my gushing adoration for Dogfights, which is pretty much the dopest documentary series -- military or otherwise -- this civilian has ever seen. So here comes another History Channel presentation, encased in a steel box no less, that uses the same production methods, but centers the action on the U.S.S. Enterprise, the legendary aircraft carrier that was in the thick of some of the most intense battles of World War II.
The major difference between these two CGI-happy series is how the seasons unspool. Where Dogfights was essentially an anthology show, with different campaigns and encounters detailed from episode to episode, Battle 360 tells its story chronologically. With the U.S.S. Enterprise as the plot device, the naval war in the Pacific is explored, from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the final surrender of the Japanese empire. Major engagements include Guadalcanal, Midway, the island-hopping campaigns, the battles in the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and the fight against the Kamikaze. From the carrier's birth, to its eventual sad fate (I defy you not to tear up when a sailor loses it talking about how much he misses the ship), that's the season.
What a fantastic way to soak up history! Dare I say this is the "future" of "history"? No, I dare not. That would be corny. But if there are any history teachers reading this who are struggling to keep the attention of their mind-wandering ne'er-do-wells, man, this is the set for you. The warfare is broken down into hyper-stylized segments, analyzing all the fronts of the battle -- air, sea, and undersea combat. Hence the 360.
Stories are told using multiple components. First, you got your interviews, sit-downs with military experts, armed forces personnel both active and retired, and the veterans who were actually there. And, most importantly, 1st Sergeant William Bodette, who rules. Second, is the dependably archival footage, which is as dramatic as always, though the colorization process strikes me as unnecessary. And finally the visual effects, which are used to render most of the action: Gunships opening fire, submarines launching torpedoes, dive bombers dropping their payload, it's all blasted out with above-average CGI work that engages, not distracts. Big points. All of this terrific learning and mayhem is dressed up with a slick gloss that gives the series a snappy look.
There you go. You want to immerse yourself into the tactics and personalities that made the World War II Pacific Theater so awesome? This unique and entertaining set will deliver the goods and spell out the most compelling armed conflict in the world's history through exciting and cutting-edge detail.
All ten episodes look great, but the consistent gripe I have with History Channel releases remains: Fake widescreen. A 2.0 stereo mix and some additional scenes complete the set.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 470 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Additional Scenes