- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The History cable channel gave viewers an MTV version of the beginnings of the American Revolution through a 3-part miniseries airing in January and starring too-hip versions of heroes such as Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere and Dr. Joseph Warren.

Now on Blu-ray, the roughly 5-hour spectacle Sons of Liberty (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, not rated, $29.99) arrives in a 1:78:1 widescreen-filling, detail-rich format to relive a “heavily dramatized” interpretation of the mid-18th century events from Boston to New York and Philadelphia that unleashed a colony’s burning desire for independence.

Viewers watch a young and attractive version of the rebel rouser Mr. Adams (played by a chronically brooding Ben Barnes), who has a skill set even video game superstar Assassin’s Creed’s Haytham Kenway would admire as he climbs over building rooftops to avoid British soldiers.

We get glimpses of the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s famous ride and even truncated battles at Lexington and Concord all wrapped in a bit too much blood letting, sexuality and sweaty machismo. Thankfully, at no point did zombies or a vampire appear as those pesky colonists fought the British soldiers.

And, ah yes, those soldiers, near Nazi Stormtroopers in ferocity, they get especially nasty throughout with beatings and torture directed by the evil Gen. Thomas Gage. That’s contrary, by the way, to what really happened.

To be fair, History Channel clearly explains that viewers are watching historical fiction and not a documentary but it will confuse any casual American Revolution fan.

In fact, I often asked myself, “did this really happen?” — leading me on a quest for facts via a handy iPad and some American history websites.

That’s a not a terrible knock, and for the inquisitive, a fairly educational experience while the action plays out.

However, don’t expect the excellence seen in HBO’s look at our presidential powerhouse John Adams in its acclaimed 2008 mini-series.

A trio of featurettes on the second disk offers a very precursory overview of the making of the series and the lead characters.

They include a look at battle choreography and a 16-minute overview of the historical figures portrayed in the series, rationalized by executive producer Stephen David and director Kari Skogland, calling these rebels, the rock stars of their era.

Suffice to report, to cement a buy for this Blu-ray, I could have used an extended historical documentary with some experts piping in to explain some of the minutia and covering the realities of the time period portrayed in “Sons of Liberty.”

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