National Geographic: The Battle for Midway
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Review by Chris Hughes | posted January 15, 2000
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Graphical Version
Features: Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1, English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Bonus Featurette: Combat Cameramen, Interactive battle map and timeline, Photo gallery with rare images by world-renown photographers, Interactive trivia quizzes, Diagrams and statistics of U.S. and Japanese Battle Forces.

The Movie:
When last we met our hero Dr. Robert Ballard he was plumbing the depths of the North Atlantic in an attempt to uncover the remains of the most famous shipwreck in history. After finding the Titanic Ballard turned his attention to the ships lost in World War II's pivotal Battle of Midway. This National Geographic presentation documents Ballard's Pacific Ocean voyage of discovery in the style we've come to expect from the respected magazine publisher. The program uses historic footage to illustrate the battle and includes numerous pointed interviews with the men who survived. Will Ballard find the sunken American vessels? You'll just have to watch the DVD and find out.

The Picture:
All of National Geographic's titles exhibit crisp and clean pictures and this one is no exception. Even the damaged historical films look crisp and fairly clean. I was able to see two or three examples of distortion induced by the compression process but they were very subtle and not at all distracting.

The Sound:
The sound for The Battle for Midway has been remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1. Most of the documentary is dialogue based though so the surrounds and sub woofer don't really have much to do. Be that as it may the overall quality of the sound is very good with no distortion or hiss and a nice consistent level throughout.

The Extras:
Several interesting extras are included on the DVD. Chief among them is an additional video program covering the cameramen of World War II. This hour long documentary is composed of period films, still images and interviews with many of the photographers that risked their lives to document this century's most notable conflict. Next there's a simple interactive battle map that shows a Midway timeline with audio explanations of the most important events. Other extras include a small photo gallery, silhouettes of Japanese and American boats and planes, a three question trivia quiz and previews of other National Geographic titles.

Conclusion:
The Battle for Midway is an interesting history lesson wrapped in a modern adventure. The programs are well made and fun to watch but don't have much replay value. I would have liked to have seen more attention paid to the ancillary content, which could have offered much more depth and added value but that's a minor gripe. This probably isn't one for the collection but for World War II buffs and documentary fans it should offer at least one evening of good entertainment.


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