Posted in: Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on October 4th, 2010
“General George S. Patton. His bold attacks are legendary. See the war the way he saw it and ride along with his hard-fighting troops as they battle their way through World War II. On this 360-degree battlefield, Patton’s enemies could be anywhere and everywhere. There’s nowhere to run, when the war is all around you.”
Patton 360 does for the European theatre of World War II what Battle 360 did for the fight in the Pacific. Just as in that earlier program, we are brought into somewhat intimate contact with one of the most prolific and successful fighting corps in that part of the war. Patton was a larger-than-life general who often got into his own way more than the enemy ever did. He was nicknamed Old Blood & Guts based on a standard speech he delivered when addressing the troops. He was the most successful general in the European war. From Normandy he pushed across France and into Germany liberating towns along the way. The French citizens loved him and considered him a hero. His troops respected him and drew confidence from him, even if they did not necessarily love the man himself. He didn’t suffer what he considered foolish behavior very well. He found himself suspended and out of the war for nearly a year when he slapped two battle-fatigued soldiers with whom he had lost patience. However, it would be impossible to discuss the Great War without spending some significant time on George S. Patton. This series does just that … and with a certain flair.
Like the series before it, the show uses a combination of computer-generated images, archive footage, re-enacted footage, and testimonials from surviving soldiers who lived the campaigns depicted in the series. The pieces detail the various pieces of equipment. You get all of the specs and a good idea of how it was used strategically. This time there are a few segments that detail the difference between World War II equipment and tactics and those of modern warfare. It’s a nice touch to see how we would do these same kinds of operations today. There’s a touch of “what if” here as current military folks demonstrate the advantages the modern warrior has over those members of The Greatest Generation.
Patton is certainly an interesting and compelling subject. The episodes also offer his personal insights through his journal entries and letters home to his wife. The man was a huge believer in his personal destiny. He was convinced that some divine providence had placed him here at this moment in history to do great things. He was consumed toward glory. He allowed his hubris to taint his judgment at times. One such time had him organizing an ill-fated mission to free his son-in-law from a Nazi POW camp. Unfortunately, my father-in-law would risk such a mission to put me inside of one. The mission failed miserably and cost countless lives and equipment loses. He considered his colleagues as rivals and almost hated them as much as the enemy. He was severely disappointed when he was not allowed to deliver the fatal blow at Berlin. He was instead sent to an area where he uncovered the horrors of the Jewish concentration camps. Little could he have known then that the images he sent back from those places would capture the lasting attention of the world, long after the invasion of Berlin itself was forgotten. He never lived long enough to appreciate the irony. He died before he could return home in a freak automobile accident.
You can’t really go wrong here. It’s a good addition to your World War II collection. The unique perspective will help to round out an historical record that is unsurpassed today. All of the big moments are depicted here: North Africa, Sicily, Battle Of The Bulge, and his pushing into Germany itself. If it was a big moment in the European theatre of World War II, you can pretty much bet that Patton’s forces were there.
Each episode is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC/MPEG-4 codec. There is archive footage here, so you should expect the picture to vary in its quality. The archive material appears to look stretched. The Pacific material was also, but this footage depicts more humans, who show the morphed image ratio more than ships do. This does not look as good as the World War II In HD series did. The CG work is very clean and detailed, but it doesn’t have quite the sense of documentary that the previous series gave us. The picture is often a bit soft on the CG moments. Detail is good, but colors appear muted. It does look somewhat animated. The interview segments look the best. You can really see into these warriors’ minds and get a sense of the emotions they carry nearly 70 years later.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 is all about the narration. You’ll hear everything clearly. There’s no added intensity to the war footage. The presentation here is straightforward all the way down the line.
Most of us think of that iconic image of George C. Scott in front of a massive American flag whenever someone mentions the name of George S. Patton. It’s a powerful image that helped to make that one of the most beloved war films of all time. But history is seldom the way Hollywood portrays it. However, they certainly might have come close with Patton. He’s the kind of guy we would most certainly have had to make up if he hadn’t actually lived. There’s no doubt that the war would have been very much a different animal without him. No one is suggesting the outcome would have been different; well, “except for old Blood & Guts himself”.