HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Sons of Liberty
HTS Overall Score:78
I find it very fitting that I end Memorial Day with a retelling of the very first truly “American” war where we lost so very many lives gaining our independence as a free and self-governed nation, a title that I saved for this very day. The Revolutionary War is a war that I enjoy revisiting time and time again in the fantasy world. It reminds us why we started the United States and is one of the most rousing and fascinating times in our history. Men and women coming together, sick of being trodden upon by a King who treated them like they were nothing, resolving to give their lives for a cause bigger than themselves. I have to say that I’m a sentimental fellow, especially when it comes to patriotic movies. My brothers were all marines, and I come from a long line of military serving relatives, all the way back as far as I could research, so it comes with no great surprise that I really enjoyed this retelling of American History. “Sons of Liberty” has its flaws, and some of those flaws are substantial, but it provides a solidly entertaining 4 and a half hour miniseries to watch on one of my favorite days of remembrance.
The History Channel has been pretty fastidious about releasing these miniseries the last few years, usually blending them into a hybrid of recreation as well as documentary style inserted into the mix. “Sons of Liberty” is much more a dramatized recreation, almost movie like in its form, and has to be one of their most action packed and highest profile ones yet. The only downside to the new way of filming is that the miniseries veers quite sharply away from historical fact, and “spices up” the story a bit with a little fiction and dipping into rumor and lore in an effort to create a more cinematic experience. Every review I ever read on “Sons of Liberty” stated that the deviations were quite severe, but I wasn’t exactly aware of HOW drastically they deviated until I watched it. Sam Adams is made out to be almost an adventure hero, who can fight like a madman and John Hancock is a bit of a prissy fellow who John comes into conflict with over his desire for wealth. Also, there is no evidence that Margaret Gates ever had an affair with Dr. Joseph Warren. There has been speculation on that fact, but the only thing that can be surmised historically is that she may have been a patriot informer. Most movies about historical figures take some liberties with the source material, that’s become the norm in Hollywood and I fully expect that. What I DIDN’T expect is it to come from The History Channel, a firm dedicated to preserving history. That little tidbit causes my hackles to be raised when otherwise they might have remained smooth and unruffled.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=45946[/img]“Sons of Liberty” chronicles the start of the American Revolution, as Sam Adams (Ben Barnes) witnesses the British taking money and colonist lives day in and day out. A tax collector of the crown, Adams shows pity on his fellow Bostonian and shows leniency on their debts. Debts that soon become his own as the Crown of England shows no such leniency. With the help of John Hancock (Rafe Spall), Sam is free from the debt, but soon finds himself helping out his fellow colonists in other ways. Smuggling in goods for John Hancock, the young troublemaker finds himself south of the law once more, and soon enough his friends and colleagues are pulled into the little band of rebels. His cousin, John Adams (Henry Thomas) tries to keep a cool head on his relative, usually without any success. Dr. Joseph Warren (Ryan Eggold) becomes enamored with the new governor of Boston’s wife, Margaret (Emily Berrington), and soon the 4 men, along with Paul Reverie (Michael Raymond-James) realize that the English will never show them the respect and representation in the government that an English citizen has. The only thing left is the obvious choice, the dissolution of the agreement between the colonies and England, E.G., WAR.
Now that the setting has been placed, the second and third episodes delve into some deeper issues, mainly with the events leading up to the actual Declaration of Independence, such as the Boston Tea Party, and the creation of the militia. The third episode is the most action packed, with the battles of Lexington and Concord being shown and the inclusion of General George Washington, who is played by Jason O’Mara. Amusingly Jason also plays the voice of Batman in the recent animated movies like “Son of Batman” and “Batman Vs. Robin” so all I could hear whenever he spoke was Batman! The actors themselves do a decent job at portraying the slightly modified legends of our country, but I felt that they were just a bit too young and pretty for the roles. It seemed as if director Kari Scogland was going for the handsome guys that girls swooned over in order to create more “relevant” and acceptable character for young people to latch on to. Some of the action scenes were a bit more fanciful and embellished than actual history, but as a whole it is an entertaining little series that puts a nice punch to the old story, as long as you go in understanding that it’s not exactly trying to stick to historical fact on every facet.
Not Rated by the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=45954[/img]The 1.78:1 AVC encoded transfer for both discs is quite impressive, but shows some noticeable flaws that seem to be a pattern for History releases. Detail is quite good, with strong color representation, but there is a weird boosting of the contrast that fluctuates depending on the scene. One moment the colors and clarity is so razor sharp that you can cut yourself, and the rest of the time we have boosted contrast that gives a washed out look to the picture, and robs you of shadow detail during the darker times. Blacks are relatively good, but suffer from being a bit washed out and grey due to the boosted contrast. However, the contrast isn’t detrimental as there is a good amount of detail to be rendered from the digitally shot film. There are quite a bit of slow motion action sequences that almost made it look like the director was going for a 3D type of shot, but without any actual 3D cameras used (or any post 3D work done in the studio). It’s a very solid transfer, and one that looks very very good most of the time, despite the weird contrast.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=45962[/img]In my experience, the History films have always been a bit boisterous and in your face, with “Sons of Liberty” being no different. The 5.1 DTS-HDS MA lossless audio track is very aggressive and takes hold of you and never lets go during entire 270 minute runtime. Wildly immersive and energetic, the track makes good use of the surrounds as bullets wiz over your shoulder, horse hooves thunder across beaten forest roads and the thud of billy clubs and the crack of whips emerge from all directions. There is some excellent channel separation going on as you can hear the sound shift and move across the soundstage, creating a wonderful 360 degree field of immersion. LFE is throbbing and powerful, adding some extremely impressive low end to the already awesome sonic experience. TV miniseries are not always known for their amazing audio tracks, but History has delivered a stellar one for sure and I am most appreciative (as well as my hungry sound system).
• Lensing Liberty
• Choreography of War
• Men of Independence
“Sons of Liberty” is a very dashing and heroic take on the titular characters that we all know from the history books, sometimes a bit too dashing I might add. Definitely geared towards modern audiences it dips into flights of fancy, and slow motion battle shots in an effort to garner a younger support base, and if you aren’t too worried about them stick to the actual events then you very well may enjoy the miniseries. I know I did once I got past that little bit of information nagging me. Sometimes I couldn’t get past some of the changes, but more often than not I ended up being solidly entertained. The video encode is solid, and about par for the course with the History movies, and the audio is superb, so I see no reason why you shouldn’t at least check it out this fine Memorial day.
Starring: Ben Barnes, Martin Csokas, Ryan Eggold
Directed by: Kari Scogland
Written by: Stephen David, Kirk Ellis, Zach Herrmann, Jordan Rosenblum, David C. White
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 270 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: May 26th 2015
Buy Sons of Liberty On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Worth Checking Out
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