I hate TV Guide. I know. I know. I know. "Hate" is a very strong word. So, maybe I don't hate TV Guide so much as I really don't like it. Don't get me wrong, because there was a time when I loved the magazine, and couldn't wait for the next issue to arrive in the mail. But that was back before the re-design, and before it turned into trash. Now, I have absolutely no use for TV Guide.
At this point you're probably wondering, "What does TV Guide have to do with this review?"
Well, the reality is that I don't watch much television anymore, and I have never been much of what you would call a "channel surfer." Before TV Guide let me down by turning into the useless rag it is, I used it to find out what was on television, and made my viewing decisions accordingly. But now that I don't read it anymore, I really have no clue as to what is on, and as a result, I miss a whole lot of things I would otherwise watch. Case in point: The True Story of Hannibal, a History Channel documentary that I would have watched, if only I knew that it was on.
I'm not going to lie...I really don't want to write a review of this DVD. Watching the documentary was fine, but writing a review feels a bit too much like writing a report after watching a film in high school social studies class. I mean come on...how do you write about something like this?
The True Story of Hannibal is a documentary film about the life of Hannibal Barca. It was a good film. It was all about Hannibal, who was a Carthaginian general, and he hated the Roman Empire, and when he was only nine years-old he swore an oath that he would destroy them. Hannibal led Carthage to war against Rome, and he led his army over the French Alps on a herd of elephants. The Romans were scared of the elephants. Riding on the elephants made Hannibal scarier to the Romans, who were already afraid of the elephants because they had never really seen elephants before. The war lasted a very long time, because Hannibal was a very smart soldier who came up with good strategies and fought very hard. Hannibal got an infection in his eye, and then he lost the war and had to go into hiding, but because the Romans hated him so much there was no place to hide and eventually he had to kill himself. The end.
Okay, time to get a bit serious (but not too serious). I've been fascinated with Hannibal the Carthaginian for many years, which is what had me curious about this documentary. There's nothing special about the documentary--it's pretty much standard History Channel fare in that it uses interviews with a bunch of historians and scholars, inter cut with dramatic reenactments. If you're not into this sort of stuff, then you won't be into this particular thing.
The one thing that really bothered me about this documentary was the actor who played Hannibal in the reenactments. Carthage, where Hannibal originally came from, was located in Northern Africa, basically where the nation of Tunisia is currently located. Most of the artistic renderings of Hannibal are from either Rome or Greece, and in those interpretations he looks strangely like either a Roman or a Greek, when he should look North African. The actor cast as Hannibal in the dramatic recreations does not look like he hails from Tunisia, Libya or Algeria, all of which occupy the same general region of what was once Carthage. How hard would it have been to cast an actor who at least looks slightly Arabic or African? That's all I wanted (and historical accuracy of course).
The True Story of Hannibal is presented in full frame. The picture quality is broadcast standard, which means it is very good. The image transfer is good, and the overall presentation is not lacking in any way.
The True Story of Hannibal is presented in 2.0 Dolby Digital. The sound mix is good, and all the audio levels are consistent.
There are no bonus materials.
If you are a history buff, or remotely interested in military strategy, then this is worth watching. But since chances are it will be on the History Channel again, or available at your local library, there's no need to rush out and buy it.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]