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Apocalypse: World War II Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (B? C?)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 2
  • Studio: Entertainment One
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 29, 2011
  • List Price: $39.98

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Apocalypse: World War II (2 Disc) - Widescreen AC3 Dts

Purchase Apocalypse: World War II on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:2.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:2.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:2.5/5]

There are so many documentaries, films and books on World War II, that it is a hard case to be made for adding a new documentary to the long, long list. Apocalypse: World War II, from Entertainment One, which ran in the United States on The Smithsonian Channel has thrown its hat into the ring. This French-made documentary series from the filmmaking duo Isabelle Clarke and Daniel Costelle attempts to bring something new to scholars of The Last Great War, by incorporating newly uncovered, uncensored, archival footage.

Sure, a lot of the footage the series uses is new, but, to my dismay, it has all been colorized, which is in my opinion a travesty of utmost proportions. Why are they attempting to rewrite history here? This was a most devastating war and to take this archived footage, much of it home movies and battlefield footage shot by soldiers and colorize it is an affront to the people who suffered through these tragedies and to history.

That, however, is only the least problem that the series suffers from. We are many decades on from the end of the war, and unlike The World at War, which was started just a couple of decades after World War II ended, I’m sure it is extremely difficult to find anyone alive to get first hand accounts from World War II, especially of those in command. This series has none of that, not even any archival interviews are provided.

Apocalypse: World War II also suffers from being extremely Eurocentric in its telling of the history of the war. Across its six episodes, one episode is devoted to Japan, and it is glazed over so quickly, one hardly gets a sense of the seriousness of the Pacific arena, the serious threat that Japan posed to the Soviets, and more. Never mind that even the U.S. role in the war is basically whittled down to a few mentions throughout the entire series.

This may be a good series on World War II to watch just to catch some new, brutal footage, if you don’t mind it being colorized, but as far as historical accuracy is concerned, it is at the bottom of the pile.

Video Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]

This archival footage from the 1930’s and 40’s is never going to look great, but add to that the horrendous colorization process that results in ghostly looking flesh tones and hollow, cartoonish eye color, and this 1080i/60 AVC encodement is really just a travesty.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Although the packaging all over this one says “DTS-HD Master Audio” the sound is actually provided only in Dolby Digital 5.1. The mix is filled with the typical war sound foley effects one would expect from a documentary like this – explosions, gunfire, airplane engines roaring, etc. It’s quite aggressive in its back-to-front and front-to-back panning as well. High frequencies and separation isn’t as airy and natural as it would have been were it actually a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio track, but it is acceptable.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

Each disc provides even more bonus footage and Disc 2 has an interesting “making of” featuring the filmmakers.

The supplements provided with this release are:

Disc 1:

  • Around Apocalypse, ECPAD’s Documentaries (480i/60; Black and White):
    • The French Navy in Dunkirk
    • The Polish Army Reconstituted in France
    • Women in the Armament Factories
    • French Presence in Lebanon, Solace Through the Dark Hours
    • The French Air Force

Disc 2:

  • Around Apocalypse, ECPAD’s Documentaries (480i/60; Black and White):
    • Daladier in Bizerte
    • Indigenous Troops of the French Army in Italy
    • Pierre Laval and the Compulsory Work Service
    • The French Naval Forces
    • General de Gaulle
    • Paris 11 Nov 1944
  • Making of Featurette (1.78:1; 480i/60; 0:49.59)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:2.5/5]

With Apocalypse: World War II, some spectacular footage is ruined by colorization, an extremely Eurocentric tack is taken in providing a narrative of the war, and not much new insight is provided. This documentary series is really just for the most completist World War II collector.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product align=”right”]B004H0M2XM[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Apocalypse: World War II (2 Disc) - Widescreen AC3 Dts

Purchase Apocalypse: World War II on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:2.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:2.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:2.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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