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After a flurry of holiday releases hitting Blu-ray and DVD over the last several months, we’re beginning to hit a bit of a cinematic lull—which may be good for those who already shelled out a pretty penny for movies as varied as The Hobbit and Les Miserables. Unless you’re a Marvel Fan—in which case, this week could mean shelling out quite a bit of cash for an Avengers-based collector’s set. On the slightly less expensive end, sets from History and HBO may enhance your miniseries and TV movie collections and Warner Bros. has put together a romance collection with a reasonable price tag. Read on to learn about some of this week’s best releases, and maybe even a few that may have slipped under your radar.
The Bible Blu-ray
The History Channel, or at least executive producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, had no trouble calling the recent TV miniseries, The Bible, an “epic” miniseries. Since miniseries usually contain programs that are small in scope, the very idea of an “epic” miniseries is somewhat foreign. However, that added tagline isn’t wrong. Broad in scope and detailed in vision, The Bible: The Epic Miniseries takes on the task of telling some of the big book’s most famous tales, told across various timelines and settings, as well as through the eyes of many characters.
While some of the action and acting performances weren’t my favorite part of the endeavor, each of the settings looks great and some of the visual effects—including the parting of the Red Sea—were appealing and better done than I’d seen them in past programming. The biggest boons to this series are likely the voiceover narration from the well-known Keith David, who has worked with Ken Burns in the past on documentaries including War and Jazz, as well as the music from The Dark Knight Rises composer Hans Zimmer. Both add to the overall grandiosity the miniseries is attempting to achieve and mostly succeeds at.
Since The Bible: The Epic Miniseries is a loose collection of some of the great text’s biggest moments, there are certainly ups and downs in the storytelling. Each episode offers storytelling told in vignettes, with multiple stories sometimes devoted to the same characters. The first episode, “In the Beginning,” for instance, offers narratives including Noah, Abraham, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Moses’ roots in Egypt. I’m personally more of a fan of the fire and brimstone stuff of Sodom and Gomorrah than I am of Abraham’s dilemmas with his relationship with God, the drama with his wife and mistress, and his sons, Isaac and Ishmael. I’m also more of a fan of the Old Testament stories than the new a good percentage of the time. However, part of the beauty of this set is that buyers can return to the segments they especially appreciated over and over again, or take in the episodes as a whole. With five episodes devoted to the Old Testament and 5 devoted to the New Testament, there should be something in The Bible for anyone with an appreciation of the big book.
Best Special Feature: There’s no guide to the bonus features, but you can find all of the extras on Disc 4. The bulk of this is a 40+ minute documentary called “The Bible: Creation,” part of which can be watched via the below link. However, my favorite bonus feature is probably the “Scoring The Bible” segment. Zimmer’s passion is really apparent in the clip. If you can get past the silly heartwarming moments and words like “incredible,” “inspiring” and even “pathway of the heart” bandied about, there’s a focus on Zimmer’s experience and feelings as he is creating a project, and a creative session is even shown.
Also apparent is how involved Burnett and Downey were in the creation of every aspect of the miniseries. They pop up throughout each of the bonus features and are invested in every detail of the creation. If you like both executive producers, you certainly get to see a lot of them.
Other Special Features:
“The Bible: Genesis”
“The Cast of The Bible”
“The Bible: Creation”
“Scoring The Bible”
“Believing in Miracles”
“The Bible: Visual Effects”
“Mary, Did You Know” Music Video
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