JFK - A New World Order - Commemorative Documentary Series (Blu-ray)
Mill Creek Entertainment / 2013 / 583 mins / TV-PG
There is an exorbitant amount of films and TV series available about John F Kennedy. Whether you're looking for a docudrama, straight documentary or conspiracy theory documentary, there's a flavor for any audience who wants to know everything about the 35th president of the United States. So with the 50th anniversary of his historically tragic death, there is a lot of competition for choices in this arena of media. Unfortunately, this documentary series is going to fall by the wayside.
I will say that if you are just looking for the straight facts about Kennedy's entire political career, this 8-part series certainly delivers on that angle. From his election days to the Bay of the Pigs to civil rights to his private life, all the bases seem to be covered here. However, unless you're just looking for a basic biography with key points, this series isn't all that entertaining as far as documentaries go. To its credit, the series does present some great photos and archival footage, but it's presented more as a class project than a top-notch multi-part documentary. Adding to the dryness of this whole series is the fact that there are really only three talking heads interviewed. Over the course of eight episodes, it gets pretty tiresome.
Now before you write this budgeted documentary off, there is one redeeming factor about this set. Included with this Blu-ray package is a bonus DVD that includes raw archival footage. These make the set completely worth it as it includes such powerful moments as the Kennedy vs. Nixon debate, the report on the assassination and JFK's funeral. Also a rather interesting addition to this bonus disc is the hour-long documentary "Vietnam! Vietnam!" (narrated by Charlton Heston) which focuses on the climate of the Vietnam culture in the 1960's.
This is one of the few Blu-ray releases I've seen where the extra features trump the actual feature. Don't get me wrong; if you're just looking for a straight retrospective on JFK without any fancy editing or great narration, this might be up your alley. But, in all honesty, I got much more out of just watching the unedited debate and funeral footage than I did from the documentary. Sometimes the best way to learn about history is if you have access to it as it happened. This generation will be able to view how the Kennedy/Nixon debate really went down rather than just hearing about it from historians. I'm thankful to live in an age where we can have access to such profound moments of the 20th century.
Mill Creek Entertainment's Blu-ray treatment fairs okay for this type of series. The 1080p transfer is decent given the recent interviews, but none of the archival footage is remastered. Likewise, the 2.0 Dolby Digital audio is sufficient given the release. Nothing too spectacular here, but it's about as good as it gets for a Blu-ray transfer.
As I stated in the review, the extras are the best part of the set with four incredibly intriguing videos that includes the JFK vs. Nixon debate, a news report on the JFK assassination, the funeral footage and the hour-long documentary "Vietnam! Vietnam!"
While this documentary series itself is incredibly dry, the supplemental material alone makes it worth a purchase. You'll get more out of the raw archival footage than you will from this bloated and budgeted series. And given the rather cheap price tag, you'll certainly get your money's worth for a little bit of JFK history.