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Generation Kill(TV) (2008)
Based on the national best-selling book by Evan Wright, Generation Kill is an authentic and vividly detailed 7 part HBO mini-series event that presents a uniquely epic and intimate portrait of the first 40 days of the Iraq war from the perspective of the Marines of the First Recon Battalion – a new breed of American soldiers.
For more about Generation Kill and the Generation Kill Blu-ray release, see Generation Kill Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on June 2, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 5.0 out of 5.
Directors: Susanna White, Simon Cellan Jones
Writers: Ed Burns, David Simon, Evan Wright (III)
Starring: Alexander Skarsgård, James Ransone, Lee Tergesen, Jon Huertas, Stark Sands (I), Billy Lush
» See full cast & crew
Generation Kill Blu-ray Review
A modern wartime masterwork arrives on Blu-ray...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, June 2, 2009
Embedded with the United States Marine Corps' 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the 2003 Iraqi invasion, journalist Evan Wright was given the rare opportunity to observe a group of highly-skilled soldiers in the midst of a conflict their training couldn't possibly have prepared them for. Their interactions with the Iraqi people were raw and unscripted, their engagements frightening and fierce, their commitment to excellence only shaken by the mounting tension of their insertion into a country on the verge of collapse. Wright returned home after two eye-opening months and penned a trio of revealing, sometimes startling articles for Rolling Stone that offered insight into the unique challenges the Marines faced on and off the battlefield. In 2004, he expanded his first-hand account into a critically-acclaimed, award-winning book aptly titled Generation Kill. Before long, HBO and renowned writer/creator/producer David Simon (Homicide: Life on the Streets, The Wire) came calling.
The result was an unsettling seven-part miniseries that captured the bottled insanity of a poorly-planned invasion, the unfettered humanity of the Marines of 1st Recon, and their futile attempts to simultaneously satisfy the needs of their superiors, a panicked populous, and their own waning sense of right and wrong. With a strong, diverse cast -- including Lee Tergesen as Wright himself, True Blood's Alexander Skarsgård as a stoic Sergeant, Six Feet Under's Stark Sands as a smart and good-natured Lieutenant, The Wire's James Ransone as a sharp-tongued Corporal, Castle's Jon Huertas as a hardened pro, The Black Donnellys' Billy Lush as a trigger-happy Lance Corporal, Fringe's Chance Kelly as a raspy Lieutenant Colonel nicknamed "Godfather," and Rescue Me's Neal Jones as a hilarious attack-dog Sergeant Major, among many others -- Generation Kill is a brash, at-times disquieting tour de force that embeds viewers with Wright and his subjects as they make a very dangerous trek towards Baghdad. Along the way, they have to deal with conflicting orders, rogue translators, unruly National Guardsman, uncomfortable conditions, unbearable heat, constant streetside threats, and, ultimately, each other. Friendships are born and a journalist's pre-conceived notions are shattered but, through it all, the hearts and souls of men under fire come surging to the forefront of an unprecedented conflict.
Generation Kill's effectiveness and eventual resonance lies not in its depiction of battle, but in the quiet moments of personal distress the various Marines face between engagements. Encounters with enemy combatants comprise a surprisingly short amount of screentime: the majority of the miniseries is devoted to both the affable and adversarial relationships forged during the soldiers' downtime. Watching Skarsgård and Sands walk a fine tightrope between duty and conviction is absolutely captivating... watching Kelly and Jones deal with insubordination and misinformation is utterly engrossing. Through it all, Tergesen holds the narrative together with the wide-eyed innocence of a child who's stumbled into a minefield, deftly crafting a convincing character forced to overcome deep-rooted biases while writing about soldiers who have to contend with their own prejudices and fears on a daily basis. Even though the crisis at large never comes to a head and most of the Marines who enter the fray are alive and kicking by the time Wright makes his exit, the series manages to touch on countless aspects of modern combat and the intricacies of geopolitical warfare. Moreover, it dissects the disconnect between decency and discipline every soldier has to develop to survive such a complex conflict.
More intriguing is the rampant humor the Marines employ to cope with each escalating encounter. Off-putting and uncomfortable, the juxtaposition of infectious wit and gut-churning horror is both disturbing and efficacious. Each man is desensitized to violence in one way or another, not because they're actively suppressing their humanity, but because they're fully-developed human beings who constantly witness unspeakable depravity and death. Their Humvee chatter, commentary on racism and other social issues, and ever-so-brief revelations of their home lives slowly disarm each Marine until we begin to get a sense of who the men were, are, and will soon be. Credit Simon's steady creative hand, Wright's amazing account, or the cast's incredible performances -- if you're like me, you'll chalk it up to all three -- regardless of the source, Generation Kill is unlike any multi-character story I've ever seen. It doesn't satisfy its audience with closure or fine-tuned character arcs. It doesn't fill in every gap that's left empty. It doesn't even flesh out the motivations of every Marine who brandishes a rifle and steps into battle. The miniseries is only concerned with one thing: recreating the harsh and turbulent journey of 1st Recon as they push towards an even greater fight.
Generation Kill will defy your expectations and, like Wright, challenge everything you think you know about the Marine corp, the ground war in Iraq, and the men and women who risk their lives to defend their country every day. Neither black nor white in any regard, the miniseries is a testament to the true complexities of grand-scale conflict and the inherent disorganization that comes with an ever-shifting battlefield. Watch it for its brilliant dialogue, its unrivaled performances, its unorthodox developments... or just watch it for the experience. No matter the reason, be sure you set aside ample time to dig through Generation Kill. You won't regret it.
Generation Kill Blu-ray, Video Quality
There will no doubt be those who complain about Generation Kill's pulpy 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. Grim? Overblown contrast and aggressive shadows make sure of it. Gritty? Shaky, rough-hewn footage curses the most stable scenes with soft edges and indistinct backgrounds. Grainy? The picture is packed with such intense filmic texture that it doesn't resemble the latest special effects extravaganza or high definition camera showcase in the slightest. But you know what? I wouldn't want it any other way. Colors are bleached but bold, skintones are stark but fitting, detail is inconsistent but entirely effective. In fact, I haven't seen a more exacting alignment of thematic tone and technical image in some time. Despite the abundance of bouncing vehicles and unsteady cameras, the transfer boasts a degree of aesthetic integrity that captures the directors', series creator's, and cinematographer Ivan Strasburg's every intention. More importantly, artifacting, banding, and intrusive post-production meddling (overzealous artificial sharpening and pesky noise reduction to be specific) are nowhere to be found. If any charge can be leveled against the Blu-ray edition of Generation Kill, it's that black levels are rarely resolved and tend to fall short of their desired depth (especially during the miniseries' many nighttime scenes). However, considering the nature of the production, it isn't an unexpected issue.
Faithful and proficient to a fault, Generation Kill's high definition presentation is an enthralling medley of emotion and photography that will leave those with appropriate expectations breathless. It may not be the sort of go-to demo material you're looking for, it may not slap you across the face or leave you rubbing your eyes, but it is an excellent transfer that bests its HD broadcast, trounces its standard DVD counterpart, and helps make this release worth every dime.
Generation Kill Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Stray bullets whump into the roadside as Marines scramble across a slippery slope of scattering earth and rock. The heavy plating of a Humvee rattles and groans as the souls inside banter about their lives in the States. A nighttime ambush erupts with booming explosions and jarring gunfire that matches the visceral intensity of the on-screen chaos. That's right dear readers, the wily wizards at HBO have once again proven they know how to put together a fierce and ferocious DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Like the miniseries, the mix isn't always packed with ricocheted bullets and crumbling bricks: dialogue (whether whispered or barked) is clean and intelligible, authentic environmental ambience peppers each and every scene, and prioritization is impeccable. Yes, voices are often overwhelmed during violent encounters with Iraqi insurgents, but it's an intentional product of the series' masterful, nail-biting sound design. LFE support is powerful and robust as well, injecting nuanced weight into the already absorbing soundfield. Directionality is insanely precise, pans are smooth and natural, and dynamics will absolutely blow you away. The sonics aren't pretty, they aren't overtly polished, but they are extremely effective: Generation Kill joins True Blood as a demonstration of HBO's commitment to providing fans with jaw-dropping, ear-shattering lossless audio presentations.
Generation Kill Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The 3-disc Blu-ray edition of Generation Kill features all of the top-quality supplements that appear on the standard DVD, presents all of its video content in high definition, and even offers a trio of interactive experiences for each episode. To sweeten the pot, HBO has even added chapter skips to its featurettes and documentaries: a small perk to be sure, but one that makes watching portions of the supplemental package all the more convenient. In all, this is a fantastic collection of materials that adds tremendous value to the release.
Generation Kill Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Simply put, HBO has delivered yet another must-have release. It not only includes all seven episodes of the absorbing HBO miniseries, it features a remarkably faithful video transfer, a potent DTS-HD Master Audio track, and an extensive, thoroughly engaging supplemental package. Considering how reasonably priced this 3-disc set is through Amazon, there's simply no excuse to put off a purchase any longer than you have to. This one gets my highest recommendation.
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Generation Kill Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - June 16th - June 16, 2009
The 1980's were saturated with comedies featuring Saturday Night Live cast members, but few managed to have the same success as the film being released on Blu-ray today - 'Ghostbusters'. After pulling in over $200M at the domestic box office, the franchise spurred ...
• HBO Announces John Adams and Generation Kill - March 5, 2009
HBO Home Entertainment in conjunction with Warner Home Video has announced that they will bring the mini-series 'John Adams' and 'Generation Kill' to Blu-ray on June 16th. For these three-disc sets, video will be presented in 1080p VC-1 accompanied by 5.1 DTS-HD ...
• Generation Kill Coming to Blu-ray - October 16, 2008
Most of us found it weird when HBO announced 'Generation Kill' for a DVD release, but no Blu-ray release despite playing on HBO's HD channel. Well, you'll be happy to hear that HBO Home Entertainment in conjunction with Warner Home Video have announced that they ...
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