DVD Review: GENERTATION KILL

HBO/Warner
Release date: December 16th, 2008
MSRP: $59.99

Based on the book by Evan Wright, Generation Kill shows us the Iraq invasion through the eyes of a reporter embedded with the Marine Recon Unit at the start of the invasion (or liberation or occupation..whatever the hell you want to call it) of Iraq.

Ed Burns and David Simon (The Wire) are responsible for GK and once again deliver a wonderfully diverse group of characters. Like the Wire, each stands out as unique, with few fitting into a neat stereotype. With a cast this large, it would be easy for many to fall between the cracks, but GK manages to establish them all without it feeling forced. Tidbits about each come out over the course of the series.

Since it is based on reality, things are not neatly wrapped up. At the end of the series, there was only a limited feeling of closure, that some things would likely only get worse.

After watching the series, I have read the book. I have to say that Simon and Burns did a hell of a job bringing the printed words to life, delivering an excellent translation while keeping the heart and soul of the source material. Any adaptation is tricky, but using factual material is especially difficult. You are expected to avoid taking liberties of the truth, yet folks still want it to be entertaining. GK manages to be faithful and still a delight to watch. There is humor one minute, with sadness and ever horror the next.

I never felt like I was being preached to. GK gives us a look at the events and some of the affects they have on the soldiers and, like The Wire, puts the brass in a fairly critical light. I asked a few military men I know what they thought of the portrayal of the officers and the general response was that it was accurate.

But while one might initially think that the officers get the short end of the stick, we get the good and bad up and down the ranks. I think the difference is that the actions of officers, good and bad, affect more people and thus are more noticeable.

The jargon and slang might seem daunting at first, it is very dense and you might find yourself wondering just what the hell they are saying. The more I watch, the more I was able to figure out what was being said, even if I did not know the exact meaning of each and every term.

GK is delivered on three discs and comes in an attractive box. With it comes a 22-page booklet that includes a breakdown of the chain of command, a map that shows the journey that the show documents as well as a glossary of terms to help you better understand what the hell they are talking about.

For extras, we get six commentary tracks. No two have the same line-up so each feels fresh. We get Simon and Burns as well as directors, actors, Military advisors and author Evan Wright. These tracks give an enormous amount of insight into the production of GK.

With Generation Kill, Simon/Burns continue to maintain a high standard that the rest of television will have to work hard to reach.

Order Generation Kill from Amazon.

Jeremy Lynch