I saw this miniseries on DVD because I'm a huge war movie fan and had heard excellent things about it. Everything I heard is true.
Recommend this product?
The format of Band of Brothers (10-hour, 10-part miniseries) gives it an advantage over typical films. The length allows characters to be developed more than usual, as different ones are featured in different ways in each hour. The episodic nature lets various stories to be told. These stories add up to one phenomenal tale following the exploits of Easy Company on the European front in World War II.
Another reason that this miniseries works so well is the anonymity of most of its cast. I only knew of the previous work of two of the actors (David Schwimmer and Ron Livingston), so accepting the actors as their characters was zero trouble. Now when I see them in other work, I can't get past their BoB characters...but I digress.
The sheer volume of people in the cast makes tracking each guy a little tricky (upon repeat viewings, you'll pick up on many character arcs that you missed the first time), but you learn more every episode, and you know the primaries by the middle of the miniseries.
The battle scenes are superb. Think Saving Private Ryan, improve the quality, and expand the length by a factor of five. There you go. The scenes are more effective because you know the characters better than in SPR, and you think of them more as the characters rather than actors. The effects, both audio and visual, are top-notch, as good or better than anything else ever put on film.
The plot is both simple and complex. It tells the progressive story of WWII, but also explores various characters throughout. Because the episodes were written and directed individually, they have many different feels and styles to them. This is necessary though because 1) they are typically viewed individually, 2) each episode really does tell a different story, and 3) it breaks BoB up, rather than make it seem like one ten hour movie, which would have been too much to handle.
One quality touch is that BoB provides pictures of not only the war itself, but boot camp prior to the invasion and the decompressing process at the end of the war, two processes that have traditionally been largely unexplored. The first and last episodes provide perfect bookends to an historic event.
My only minor complaint is a judgment call, an error of omission. Two or three times when an episode faded into subtitles that explained what happened next, usually in a key battle (like the Battle of the Bulge), I wanted to see those conflicts. I suppose that showing those is less needed since the public is more familiar with those encounters. Additionally those might have been thought of as not advancing the characters as much as providing fascinating visuals. A quibble, but a minor one.
The DVD set also contains the documentary We Stand Alone Together, which is a sublime companion piece. It serves as an epilogue of sorts, and while it is best appreciated having already seen BoB, it also functions beautifully as a stand-alone (no pun intended) documentary. Other features are well-conceived too. Each episode contains definitions, maps, and other tools that aid in fully understanding the events of WWII. Without these great extras, the DVD would be a must-own. With them, the set ranks among the best DVDs ever produced.
Because of the violence and one sexual encounter, children shouldn't necessarily watch this. It would definitely be rated 'R' had it been released theatrically. I wouldn't set an age limit; you should know if your child can handle something of this sort. The sex scene is relatively early in episode nine and should be skipped regardless. It contributes nothing to the miniseries.
If you like war movies, you've probably already seen this. But if you haven't, buy this DVD set online right now. If you're not a war movie buff, you might not care for BoB, although I think the story and the characters are enough to draw in even non-fans of the genre, assuming they can handle the graphic violence.