Tune in for "Judge David Johnson 360," the new series that uses cutting-edge CGI to depict the life of a tall dork.
Our review of Patton 360: The Complete Season One, published November 16th, 2009, is also available.
Grab a helmet and prepare for action.
It's nice to see History Channel release one of these World War II shows. Sure, WWII has been milked relentlessly during the network's existence, but it's nice to shift away from Real Life Werewolves or whatever weirdo documentary they decide to unleash on unsuspecting grandfathers the world over.
Patton 360 builds on the formula of Battle 360, which built on the formula of Dogfights, by illustrating the targeted conflict with CGI animation. Here, it's all about General George S. Patton's WWII campaigns, and there is certainly enough material to fill a season.
Ten episodes, Two discs:
If you're thinking "Wow, each episode sounds like it could be a title of a direct-to-DVD action movie starring Wesley Snipes," then you and I are operating on the same wavelength. In an effort to tear away a middle schooler's glazed attention from his Droid, the folks at History have seriously amped up the Bitchin! Meter on the series. The edits are quick-hitting and sexy, zooms are tight and, to be honest, awkward (the interviewees, former soldiers, seem out-of-place with the MTV-style camera-work), crazy effects like fire and lightning pop up liberally and the music is designed primarily to put you in the mood for some arm-wrestling.
Oddly, the CGI is significantly downplayed; the brief moments of visual effects quickly eclipsed by file footage, interviews, reenactments, fireballs, and stuff. Hmmm…Do the producers not have as much faith in the quality of their animation as they used to, or are they just angling to have this series as ADHD-friendly as possible? I'll go with the latter, despite the fact that, yes, the CGI isn't that great. It's serviceable, but that's about it.
Regardless of the sound and fury of Patton 360, the history is compelling. Patton's campaigns are fascinating and the different ways the skirmishes play out are dramatic. The first-person testimonies from the badasses who were there fighting, flesh out the tension of the events better than any visual effect can.
The 1080p high-definition treatment does this series well. The 1.78:1 transfer is sharp and the visual pop lends itself well to some of the more over-the-top special effects. File footage looks fine, but the interviews benefit the most from the new coat of paint. The loser? You guessed it: the computer animation. The boosted clarity betrays the animation's budget. Sound comes though in DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio mix, which certainly could have been improved with a few extra channels tossed in. No extras.
Not Guilty, but that's because I can't not like any World War II documentary.
History Channel tried really hard to give me a migraine, though.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
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