Go fetch Judge David Johnson some mead, boy, and he'll tell you the tale of how he sacked Vinland with a spear and dead chicken.
You know what's awesome? Mother-@$%#&%#*@% Vikings are awesome. And here, you'll get an hour's worth of Viking history, wrapped up in a stunner of a technical presentation. If the adventures of Norsemen from way back when hold any kind of interest for you, I can't recommend this release highly enough.
At one point a presence in IMAX, Vikings lands back to Earth, shrunken, sure, but boasting a highly impressive presentation. First, the content. This feature is a 60-minute telling of the history of Viking explorers and warriors, through the pillaging aspect is fairly subdued; these hombres, were, after all, the guys who nearly wiped English culture off the face of the planet with a series of brutal raids. No, what this disc gets after is more of the Northmen's prowess of piling into a death trap of a boat and sailing into the sea like wackos, eventually stumbling on places like Greenland and Nova Scotia.
Actually, they were accomplished seafarers and farmers and overall well-rounded Dudes of the Middle Ages, a point this feature drives home. The murdering and raping is talked about briefly in the beginning when we see a reenactment of the Vikings hitting the English shore and sacking the unsuspecting Christian church.
The program uses a mixture of reenactments, computer imagery, green screen work and breathtaking aerial photography to tell the story. Of the three, the reenactments are easily the lamest, though the filmmakers gave it their all to recreate authentic Viking costumes. The actors just looked too scrawny and the outfits too chintzy. Worse was some of the glaring CGI backdrop employed to generate an ocean while a couple of hairy actors stood on a boat. Not realistic at all. Sorry, boys. When the CGI was utilized to look at boat construction and Viking raid routes and such, it worked. In fact, it looked damn good, crystal clear and detailed, and the educational run-throughs were interesting.
Finally, the high point of the presentation: the photography. "Aerial photography" may not sound sexy, but the picture on this bastard absolutely sells the release. Frankly, I don't recall DVD imagery I've seen that's looked as terrific as some of the sweeping shots of Greenland and Iceland. I was watching the disc on an upconverting HDMI DVD player, but even in its native resolution the picture quality was astounding. Lush greens, blue oceans, detailed landscapes, all powered by a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer; if more DVDs look like this, the next-gen can wait a little longer. The very aggressive 5.1 digital mix added even more of a punch to the technical chutzpah. Kids, this is a show-off disc of the highest order. Too bad the packaging is so welfare. A nice making-of feature and some trailers are the extras and round out the disc nicely.
Look, this DVD looks and sounds so great—and that, I hazard, is one of the prime reasons someone would scope it out—I'm giving this thing big-time marks, despite a few corny moments in the storytelling. Learn about badass Vikings and treat your eyes to some High-Def porn.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vista Point Entertainment
• "The Making of Vikings"
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