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301 reviews in total 
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Compelling, if not completely accurate., 5 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This was one of the early wartime films to come out of Hollywood. The battle for Wake Island was still relatively fresh in the minds of the public, and the film uses that to its advantage. Make no mistake, this is propaganda, not history. However, it does a very good job of illustrating the stakes involved for the defenders and a pretty fair assessment of what was in store for the duration.

Brian Donlevy stars as the major who has been placed in command of the Marine detachment on Wake Island. When he arrives, he finds a rather blasé bunch, stuck on an island that seems to have no value, except as a waypoint for the Pan-Am Clippers. William Bendix is a Marine whose enlistment is nearly up and who dreams of going home. Robert Preston is his friend and frequent sparring partner. Albert Dekker is McCloskey, a civilian contractor who has a low opinion of the Marines. It is this group of disparate people who will face the Japanese assault.

The film sets out from the beginning to set you up for heartbreak. We see Donlevy say goodbye to his family, as his daughter gives him a gift of a cigarette case. We also see a young pilot who also says goodbye to his wife. This being Hollywood, we know what will happen. Donlevy takes command and shapes up the base. These scenes are played for both comedy (those involving Bendix and Preston) and to foreshadow the need to work together (Donlevy and Dekker's sparring over authority over the civilians).

The film spends about a third to half of its length establishing the characters, while giving you the overwhelming sense of impending doom, as we see the command welcome the Japanese envoy to Washington. Donlevy has a look of distrust through the entire scene, setting up the coming treachery. Then, the attack comes.

The battle sequences are played for drama and action, but are filled with glaring errors, such as the appearance of biplanes corkscrewing downwards, after we see monoplane "Japanese" aircraft shot out of the sky. The ships are obvious model work, though they are never too glaring. The most ridiculous part is the advance of Japanese soldiers, who walk slowly, without firing their weapons, only to be mowed down by Marine machine gunners. Remember, this is propaganda and we have to show the heroic defenders getting their licks in. Slowly, but surely, the stakes become even more dire.

All in all, this is a fine piece of drama, as long as you keep in mind that this is wartime propaganda, and remember that Hollywood didn't have access to film footage and equipment that later productions would. The actors do a fine job, even when the characters are somewhat clichéd. The story is fairly predictable, but exciting. Meanwhile, if you look closely, you will see many familiar faces in the film, including TV favorites Hugh Beaumont, Alan Hale Jr., and Chuck Connors. The movie is a decent look at the high stakes of the early stages of WW2.

Decent account of a soldier who did his job, above and beyond the call of duty., 4 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Audie Murphy was just a kid from Texas, who had been turned away by the Marines, the Navy and the Army Airborne. However, he finally finagled his way into the Army and proceeded to make history. What often gets glossed over in the recounting of Murphy's brave deeds was his leadership. This was a 19 year-old leading a platoon in combat. The film captures this quite well.

Since the film was produced in the 50s, it has the look and feel of a recruiting commercial. The film had to co-operation of the Army and that usually means we are going to stress heroics over realism. However, the film never fully descends into propaganda, thanks in large part to Murphy's honest portrayal of the fear of combat, the loss of friends, and other aspects of life at war.

Murphy plays himself, though he was in his 30s. He had a babyface, which eases you into accepting this. Besides, he knew how he felt at those moments and he portrays it on screen.

Audie Murphy was a sharecroppers son, one of 12 children. His father ran out on the family, leaving them struggle. We see young Audie take responsibility for the family, sacrificing his education to earn a living. This theme will be carried forward, as Murphy finds himself given greater and greater responsibility, often against his wishes.

Murphy was never destined for an Oscar, but he knows this role inside and out. He lived it. He has a quiet honesty that is refreshing, especially in an era of "heroic" war films. Murphy was a real hero, but it wasn't about glory; it was a job that needed doing. He never overplays things and the script wisely sticks to moments of comradery and action.

The rest of the cast is filled out with fine character actors who, like their characters, do their bit. We get some memorable figures for Audie to bond with and see his reaction to their loss. They are given real meaning so we get a small understanding of the loss that Murphy felt and the reason he performed such daring acts of bravery: they were trying to kill his friends.

The film never reaches the level of greatness, but it does its job of telling the story of Audie Murphy, without pomp or flash, much like the real man. If it has a real weakness, it's that it doesn't follow Murphy into civilian life, after his fame. Murphy was not only noted for his bravery on the battlefield, but also for his courage in discussing the emotional and psychological scars he carried with him for the rest of his life. In an era when soldiers didn't discuss the effect that combat had upon them, Murphy did so, letting others know that they weren't alone. Again, he was a leader.

The Family (2013)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A fun little film, but not a classic., 25 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Upon reading some reviews, I think people went into this things expecting Scorcese (who executive produced). I hadn't heard anything about it but saw the DVD in my store, but decided to rent to check it out. I thought Deniro and Michelle Pfeiffer would be good, no matter what, and I have enjoyed Besson's movies, as a director, even when they are mixed bags. So, I put it in my Netflix cue.

Suffice to say, it's no Goodfellas, but it's not supposed to be. It's a bit of a black comedy, with many of the trappings of Deniro's past (and Pfeiffers, with married to the Mob). It's got a nice family angle and it sets out to have some fun with gangster movie clichés. The comedy isn't as "in-your-face," as, say Analyze This, but it scores more than it misses. It's just seems to aspire to be a fun little film and I think it succeeds beautifully. The cast are great and they carry their scenes well. There's plenty of Besson's trademark frenetic pacing, but, for once, he didn't pull out the slow-mo rocket shots. This is Besson and the cast having a bit of fun with the conventions of the gangster movie. Keep that in mind, and you will probably have a bit more fun.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A great B-Movie; too bad it cost more than most A-films!, 5 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I was a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars stories, when I first read them as a teenager. They are filled with adventure and wonder, moving breathlessly from one cliffhanger to the next. You didn't get a ton of character development, but there was enough to make you connect to the hero and his friends. So, I have waited years to see something like that on screen. When I heard this was finally happening, I couldn't wait to see how they would render the Tharks and the aerial navies, not to mention Carter's heightened abilities. I also wondered how they would handle the episodic nature of the source material.

I missed the film in theaters but heard the lackluster reviews and dismal box office. Still, I was a big enough fan to want to see it and waited for rental. Well, I was pleasantly surprised.

The film isn't likely to win awards, but neither was the source material. Instead, it delights in presenting us a world of high adventure and strange creatures. It gives us an old-school hero who fights against massive odds because that is what heroes do. It delights in giving us thrills and a bit of intrigue, without coming across as pompous or self-satisfied. In short, it has fun and tells a bang-up story. Would that more films could do this.

This could have easily have been just mindless action; but, Andrew Stanton and Michael Chabon had enough respect for the source material to actually give us some plot and character motivation. These characters come alive because they are given real personalities, despite weird names, like Tars Tarkas and Dejah Thoris. They are helped by some good performances from seasoned actors (Cirian Hinds and Mark Strong) and a decent one in lead Taylor Kitsch. Kitsch is a bit wobbly at first (much like Carter, when he arrives on Mars) but he finds his footing as the story progresses and gets you to cheer for the hero.

What ends up sinking this film is a studio who wanted a blockbuster franchise, rather than an entertaining film. They got the entertaining film but the chances of more are slim to none. The audience was conditioned to expect something epic and weren't satisfied to get something fun. Their loss, I say. I think time will be much kinder to this film, as people discover that good old fashioned adventure still lives.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Superman for the Video Game Age, 5 January 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Let me preface this by saying I am a fan of Superman. I grew up reading the comics and they helped shape my moral outlook. Superman grew from wish fulfillment in the Great Depression into an icon of the best of humanity; at least, as much as a fictional character can embody that. He went from being a character created to entertain children into a figure of modern mythology, known the world over. I still remember standing in line to see the Richard Donner film and watching the story unfold; cheering as Christopher Reeve flew towards the camera and then banked off to the side.

Superman has been adapted to the times; and so, given that it sometimes feels like we are in very dark times (war, shootings in schools, government shutdowns organized as powerplays, environmental disasters, etc...) we get a dark Superman. However, it can't even find the human connection in the darkness. Instead, it wallows in video game-like destruction, with few consequences for the principal characters. The Screen Junkies group, in their brilliant Honest Trailer, summed it up best: "God forbid a Superman movie be any fun!"

The film first serves up a Krypton that is derived from Avatar, with little to make us care about its destruction. It might have as well been the prologue to a game that is immediately skipped so player can start punching things. Next, we get a Cliffs Notes summation of Clark's isolation from humanity, while he tries to find his purpose. Smallville (the TV show)it ain't. Again, we just seem to be marking time before we start smashing things. We next encounter Lois Lane, who apparently has ticked off the military but goodness knows why, given that she doesn't exactly exude that charisma that a star investigative reporter would have. Then, enter Zod and company to start the destruction.

I could live with mindless destruction if I gave a damn about the characters. Henry Caville is a lump of beefcake with the emotional range of a turnip. Amy Adams, a decent actress, doesn't exactly fill Lois with the personality of the hard-charging reporter. There is no spark between the two, unlike Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder. Their relationship is really rather clinical, like the script is afraid to have real emotions, for fear of losing a teenaged male audience. So, instead, we just start blasting and smashing things, with no visible consequences to innocent bystanders or regards to the laws of physics. Even Avengers managed to bring moments of the human cost of things to the moments of destruction.

There are germs of ideas here, like the potential reaction of humanity to a known alien, especially one endowed with tremendous power. The idea that the government would feel threatened by a power it can't control. The film never really gets beyond introducing these ideas as it instead goes for effects work to keep up the visual distractions. As such, there is such an artifice to the film that the viewer has trouble connecting to anything. The only human moment that meant anything to me was at the end, when we flashback to young Clark running around with his dog and Jonathan Kent recognizes the potential in his son to be a hero for humanity.

The end result hear is a dark and soulless film. I keep returning to the metaphor of a video game because that is how I felt during the film. What little story there is exists only to bridge the next effects scene, with little future consequence or character development. It's not storytelling; it's marking time. Richard Donner is still king and Christopher Reeve is still the truly iconic Superman. Warner would be better served talking to the creative people at Warner Animation, who crafted the brilliant Batman The Animated Series, Superman TAS, and Justice League. They were able to create epic stories with believable characters. Smallville was better able to craft a relatable hero out of Superman and put a new spin on the myth, while still paying homage to the legacy.

Do yourself a favor, watch the Donner film, or Superman the Animated Series. Seek out Elliot S! Maggin's novel "Superman, Last Son of Krytpon." Read one of the thousands of classic stories from the past 75 years; or, play a real video game because at least then you will be able to have an active involvement with the story.

Real Steel (2011)
Rocky-Sock 'em Robots! OK, that's been used before, but so has the plot. It still works!, 16 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the interest of total disclosure, I see that someone had the same idea watching this film: Rocky-Sock 'Em Robots. On the surface, this looks like someone just decided to take the old Rock-'Em Sock-'Em Robots and graft it to every boxing movie cliché out there. And they did! Danged if it doesn't hook you, though! Despite the clichés, despite the "been there, done that" feel, it still has heart, thanks to a fine cast.

Sports movies are all about the clichés: the underdogs who challenge the champs and earn some respect (Rocky, Bad news Bears, etc...), reaching down to find that spark inside (all or them), and following a dream. The reason those elements are in those films is that they are all part of the human drama. They ring true in almost everyone's life. That's the secret here. We recognize that these are the same old clichés, but we care enough about the characters to buy into the clichés. That is the essence of drama, whether it is stage, screen, the playing field, or the ring. It's why people watch pro wrestling, even knowing that the outcome is predetermined. It's why people watch boxing, even though the promoters manipulate who gets a shot at the title. It's why people watch movies, even though they know it's just a bunch of actors and special effects. Good actors/performers make you forget all of that and care about the characters and this movie has that in spades.

Make no mistake, this wasn't likely to win any Oscars; but, so what? The purpose of drama is to entertain and illustrate ideas. No one said it had to be deadly serious. The film delights in its absurdity. It has fun with it, adding some spectacle to a straightforward story, just like a bit of showmanship to increase the gate of a fight. Showmanship alone, however, isn't enough if the skills aren't there and the cast has them in spades. What you see are some nice character performances, not star-roles. Hugh Jackman has leading man looks, but a character actor's sensibilities. He inhabits the character of Charlie. You know he is going to bond with the kid; but watching Jackman work makes it a treat. Dakota Goyo is the kid who wants to see his hero fight; but the hero isn't his robot, it's his dad. Yeah, it's an old story, whether it's Jackie Cooper or Ricky Schroeder. The common factor is that those kids were good and so is Goyo. The rest of the cast fill their roles well; whether friend, enemy, love interest, comic relief, or exposition.

This is a good, solid film. Nothing new here; just good, old fashioned crowd-pleasing entertainment. I'll take that over mindless CGI spectacles, ponderously serious "drama," vulgar comedies with sophomoric humor, or cloying sentimentality. In the old days, this would be a B-movie; but the world could use some solid B-movies. Lord knows, the A-movies of today rarely deliver this much honest humanity and entertainment.

Dredd (2012)
Excellent adaptation of the iconic comic., 10 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Judge Dredd is an icon in the UK. It was born in the pages of the new comic magazine 2000 AD, in 1977. Creators John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra delivered something new to comics, especially to British comics. This wasn't the bright future of Dan Dare or a lighthearted tale from the Beano; this was the spirit of Punk brought to comics. Dredd is the ultimate in anarchic satire, hard-hitting action, and in- your-face graphics. It blew the competition off the stands. It was an animal that wouldn't be caged and it eventually grew beyond the bounds of the printed page.

Dredd's road to the screen was as filled with as many problems as the average Dredd prog (as the episodes were called in 2000 AD). People have wanted to make a movie since the 80s; but, technology and lack of vision have hampered it along the way. Instead, Robocop beat it to the punch, swiping the biting satire and black comedy and the over-the-top action (though Deathrace 2000 was there earlier). That would prove a problem to future attempts at Dredd, as it would live in the successful shadow of Paul Verhooven's classic. In the 90s, we got the first attempt, with Sylvester Stallone. It suffered from too much comedy, star ego, and a disjointed story that was too smug for its own good. The film didn't do anyone any favors.

This time, Dredd has something worthy of its stature, with a smart tale that introduces us to the world of Megacity 1, the beat for Judge Dredd. It's a metroplex that covers nearly half of the Eastern Seaboard of the US. It is a decayed world, with minicities within towering megablocks. Violence and chaos rule, which is met with the strong arm of the law, via the Judges. The greatest of which is Judge Dredd. Dredd is the never-tiring hammer of justice, rung out on the anvil of the city. In this story, he has been tasked to evaluate a special rookie, Judge Anderson, a mediocre student; but, one possessed of immense psychic ability. They head out to investigate a multiple homicide in the Peachtrees megablock. What they find is a world controlled by a vicious gang, who are manufacturing and distributing a drug, Slo-Mo, which causes the world to pass in slow motion to the user. Dredd and Anderson soon find themselves locked in with the gang, as the whole complex is set against them, or terrified into inaction. They are cut off from back-up and the only way is forward.

The script captures much of what makes Dredd iconic, while allowing new viewers into the world. There are easter eggs for the fans, but one doesn't have to have read 35 years of comics to comprehend things. If there is anything missing from the script, it's the proportion of dark humor that permeates the comics. It's there is small doses, but not writ as large as on the comic page. This is probably a good thing, since the film seeks to introduce the world. Better to stick to the main thrust and let people get used to this world, before we start turning things on their head. It's probably also a reaction to the previous film, which went too far into the humor and lost the point of the story. Regardless, the script works.

Karl Urban deserves great praise. In an industry driven by ego (which crippled the previous film), Urban is willing to forgo having his face on screen and embody Dredd, never seen without his iconic helmet, unless hidden in shadow. Dredd is a character of few words, giving greater weight to those few, and Urban delivers them as they were intended. This is a true character performance.

Olivia Thrilby makes for a fine Anderson, a rookie with talent, but one who is on the fence. The film is her baptism of fire. Thrilby captures the fear, curiosity, anger, and confidence in equal measures.

Leana Hedey is Ma-Ma, the ganglord who has set off the chain of events that leads the Judges to her domain. Hedey plays the controlled psychopath. She isn't that physically imposing, but she dominates through force of personality and sheer willpower.

The filmmakers make smart decisions, using their limited budget in service to the story. By keeping the environment contained, they keep things centered on the plot and don't waste effects for attention- grabbing. Even the 3-D feels organic, rather than tacked-on or in a desperate attempt to call attention to the shot.

This is a great intro and one hopes that future films will follow, so we can see more of this world and maybe a bit more of the satire that elevated Dredd beyond just a sci-fi action strip. I, for one, am still waiting for Judge Death and Judge Cal would make for a fun adventure, somewhere down the road.

8 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Good general documentary, but it leaves plenty to explore., 17 October 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The PBS documentary tries to encapsulate 75 years of comic book superheroes in just under 3 hours. In this attempt, it succeeds. However, in doing so, it either glosses over or outright ignores a lot of really interesting characters and creators. It does a fine job of illustrating why people have connected to these outrageous characters, and why they have survived low sales and bad attempts to adapt them into other media. It is peppered throughout with notable writers and artists, who add personal detail, as well as some authoritative comic historians, plus a celebrity or two.

The Good: The first hand accounts add a lot of detail and make for some entertaining segments. You get to see people like Joe Simon (co-creator of Captain America), Joe Kubert (artist on Sgt Rock and Hawkman), Carmine Infantino (artist on Flash, Marvel's Star Wars, and onetime DC Publisher), Jerry Robinson (co-creator of the Joker), Irwin Hasen (artist on DC's Wildcat and the newspaper comic Dondi), Jules Feiffer (playwright and cartoonist), Jim Steranko (Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD and a comic historian), Len Wein (co-creator of Wolverine and Swamp Thing), Gerry Conway (Spider-Man writer and Marvel editor-in-chief), Denny O'Neil (Batman writer/editor), Neal Adams (artist on Batman, Green Lanter/Green Arrow, and X-Men), and Stan "The Man" Lee, plus many others. It hits the major points well and at least tries to highlight some of the other, less familiar books and creators. The historians add some context to things and articulate well why kids of the different periods were drawn to these characters, their motivations changing as the society changed. It provides plenty of visual detail, from the comics and other media, including things like the Adventures of Captain Marvel serial and the Superman theatrical cartoons, as well as TV shows and movies. Finally, the appearance of Lynda Carter and Adam West adds some scope to the media adaptations of these characters.

The Bad: The narrative is heavily filtered through the lens of "other media." The main focus is on characters who have appeared in movies, cartoons, live action shows, radio shows, and the like. There is very little mention of a character that does not have an available movie or TV clip. This includes much discussion about characters who were featured in movies and TV, but the footage wasn't easily obtainable. We see a scene from one of the Captain America TV movies, and pieces from the recent Marvel movies, but not the Republic Captain America serial. We don't hear much of anything about other companies, besides DC and Marvel, who published superheroes, except those companies who sold their characters to the big two (Fawcett and Quality Comics) or broke away from them (Image Comics). This leads to some incorrect statements, like that Captain America was the first patriotic hero (it was The Shield, from MLJ/Archie). The documentary also fails to really explore some of the literary ancestors of the superheroes, apart from the pulps (and even that mainly focuses on The Shadow). Finally, three hours barely scratches the surface. There is a companion book available, but it doesn't add much outside detail to what was presented in the feature.

In the end, this is a great documentary for someone who knows superheroes from movies or TV and wants to know more. For the long time fan, the interview subjects are the real attraction, as much of the rest of the material will be very familiar. The subject begs for more time, but you get a pretty good story for your 3 hours. It makes for a decent addition to schools and libraries, who wish to have reference materials for their graphic novel sections. Definitely worth watching.

The personal accounts are outstanding, the rest..., 26 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The hook of this documentary series is the footage in color and hi-def. In that, it succeeds. As an account of the war, with its complexity, it fails miserably. As a collection of first hand recollections, it has some very moving moments. In all, it's a bit of a mixed bag.

The series is only looking at the American aspects of the war, with the Pacific getting the stronger treatment. This is in part due to the greater amount of color footage shot in the Pacific theater. Some of it has been seen before, as far back as the 1970s, in The World at War. The series also adds dramatic presentations of personal accounts, ala Ken Burns' work. However, it does this when it has the real subjects in interviews and their conversations, however halting and unpolished they may be, are far more powerful than those delivered by actors. The use of an actor narration, where the subject has passed on, makes sense; but, not when the subject is still alive and captured on film.

The Good:

Some of the footage has been rarely seen, or not seen at all by younger audiences. It doesn't shy away from showing the horror of the carnage, which is something that people need to remember in an era where war is presented like a video game, rather than death and destruction. A common theme amongst the veterans is that they witnessed terrible things and hope that the world can learn from its mistakes and settle things peacefully, so that no one has to suffer like that again.

Some of the stories are heartbreaking, especially Rocky Blunt, who thought he was untouched by Army conditioning to kill, until it came down to his life or a German soldier. There is no Hollywood gloss as he tells, agonizingly, how he slit a German soldier's throat to keep him from giving away Blunt's position. It is obvious that he is haunted by that act to this day. Army Nurse June Wandry's account (via a dramatized narration) about treating the survivors of concentration camps brings tears to your eyes.

The series also features some minority voices, via a member of the 442 Regimental Combat Team (the Nissei unit) and a pilot of the Tuskeege Airmen. These men had to endure prejudice as well as the horrors of war.

The Bad:

The background of the war is glossed over badly and one never gets a sense of the other side as anything other than "the enemy." The Eastern Front is completely ignored, as if the suffering of the Russian people is of little consequence. Allied forces are rarely presented, as if the US was alone in the war, giving a rather distorted perspective. Some of the footage is repeated at different points, suggesting that images have been placed in sections to illustrate the narrative, not based on where and when they were actually shot. Finally, the series is over-narrated in sections, when images can tell the story.

In summary, if you want a comprehensive history of the war, with all of its complexity, then this isn't the series to provide that. The British series The World as War is the one you want. If you want to hear first hand accounts and see color footage, then this will suffice.

Outstanding series that illustrated the reality of the war, 14 August 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just finished viewing the original episodes of the series and find I have rarely been so impressed with a documentary about war. This is not a glorification of battles between generals, or a "war is hell" account of atrocities. It is a record of images, testimonies, documents, and legacies of a war that engulfed the world. The series sought to cover all sides of the conflict, on the battlefield, on the homefront, the background behind it, and the aftermath of it. It doesn't sugarcoat atrocities yet it never lets the events devolve into simplistic detail. It is a sincere attempt to cover the history of the world, while it conducted war.

The series stars with the human cost of the war, with images of a village that was decimated and left vacant, as a reminder of the horrors of the war. That becomes a common theme throughout; not juts the fighting and dying of soldiers, but the suffering of civilians and the toll upon a community, both the aggressor and the victim.

The series was done at a time when many participants were still alive, and greatly benefits from firsthand accounts, from people who worked with the decisionmakers at the top, to grunts on the battlefield, to those caught in the fighting due to geography. We see the famous, the infamous, and the ordinary. It's these personal accounts that really bring the human side of war into focus.

The series is not a complete encapsulation of the battles of the war, as it chooses key military campaigns and battles that were most important, then uses the rest of the episodes to look into life on both sides; before, during, and after the war. It looks at the political and social life in the Allied and Axis countries. It focuses on the horror of the Holocaust, the atrocities committed during the war, and the judgments levied afterward. It looks at the politics of the war, the role of industry, the importance of food and raw materials, the sacrifices at home, and injustices done in the name of expediency. It doesn't shy away from calling to light the negative aspects of Allied efforts, such as firebombing civilians, revocation of civil rights, diplomatic pacts that would cause trouble later, etc.. It also attempts to present a picture of the Axis populations as people, not just the enemy.

Unlike most documentaries you see these days, it is not jazzed up with graphics (there are some, but they are minimal), computer simulations, and other tricks to attract attention. It does it with actual footage and with eyewitness accounts. Narration is kept to key background and images are allowed to speak for themselves. It is not for the faint of heart, as we see images of dead bodies, horrible wounds, massive destruction. The stories are told on the faces of the living and the frozen images of the dead.

If you have ever been curious about World War II, or the history of that era, this is the one documentary series you should view, above all others. It presents history, with all of its complexity, rather than just dates, names and summaries. The DVD set is filled with additional documentaries, about the creation of the series and the research that went into it, greater detail on key aspects, such as the Holocaust, life under a dictatorship, etc... It is a tremendous value.

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