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The Men Who Built America Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: NR
  • Discs: 3 (3 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 360
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 22, 2013
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Series

[Rating:3.5/5]

Once again The History Channel presumes to tackle what could be a sweeping, epic subject with one of their latest historical mini-series, The Men Who Built America, and as usual for the cable network, they come up just a little short. The expectations set by the title of the work are never really met. Just as with the awfully flawed Mankind: The Story of All of Us, The Men Who Built America is shamelessly myopic in its scope. Zooming in on a mere five men in U.S. Post-Civil War history, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and J.P. Morgan, the mini-series seeks to tell how these few icons of the industrial age lifted the nation from the ashes of post-war chaos into the great economic boom, turning it into one of the greatest, most prosperous nations the world has ever seen.

Of course, with The History Channel, what we actually get are eight broadly painted, roughly 45-minute-long episodes that barely tap the surface of this age, its problems, and, truth be told, the real manual laborers who did the actual work. Mind you, there is some lip service paid to poor working conditions of the time, naturally the infamous Carnegie steel mill massacre at the hands of Pinkertons is discussed. The series still seems fixated on inner rivalries amongst the industrial age elites that it puts forth in its thesis, if you will, was wholly responsible for an industrial boom.

In the end, this reminds me of the badly taught high school history classes where we’d skim over a few summarized chapters about these famous names and then quickly move on. I’ve gained no new insight from watching this series. The summation, as we all know, being that the titans of industry would eventually have their monopolies broken up early in the 20th century; most famously, Rockefeller’s Standard Oil. Although, truth be told, this series completely misses the point that, Standard Oil was not brought down because Rockefeller was a bastard who mistreated the workingman, it was brought down due to increasing pressure from competitors. But, what can you expect in this world of pop history, pop science, and a series filled with “commentary” from the latter day titans of industry?

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Lionsgate gives us a rather fine 1080p/24 AVC/MPEG-4 encodement of The Men Who Built America. The image is textured and nuanced with little in the way of noise or any electronic manipulations that can get in the way. The darker scenes are nicely delineated while close-ups yield a lot of detail.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack is quite fine as well, given the subject matter. We are often engulfed in the sounds of the industrial age as the din of steel mills or the clickity-clack of the railroads surround us. A healthy dose of low frequencies is mixed into the LFE for a solid sound overall while the narration and little bits of dialogue are all rather clear.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

Only additional bonus footage which as not aired during the broadcast of the series is provided.

  • Bonus Footage:
    • Andrew Carnegie (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:04:08)
    • The American Dream (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:03:10) — J.P. Morgan
    • Monopoly (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:52)– Rockefeller
    • Competitive Nature (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:02:44) — Vanderbilt
    • The Everyman (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:2:26) — Ford and automobiles
    • The Rise of Cornelius Vanderbilt (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:03:49)
    • Traits of a Titan (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:03:39)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Yet another ho-hum historical document from the channel that should seriously consider changing its name by now, The Men Who Built America is a watered down look at the famous icons of the industrial age American landscape. You’ll learn nothing new, but it plays out like a soap opera, making it quite entertaining to watch nevertheless.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase The Men Who Built America on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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Purchase The Men Who Built America on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Series
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]


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