John Adams

Featured In Issue 142, September 2009

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
HBO Home Video
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3 Disc Set: Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50)
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Tom Hooper
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DTS HD Lossless 5.1
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John Adams is a historical dramatic HBO miniseries on the life of John Adams (Giamatti), a founding father and the second President of the United States, and the first 50 years of the stormy birth of the United States. The story unfolds in seven episodes. (Gary Reber)

Special features on each of the three discs include, in conjunction with all seven episodes, Who's Who In History, a guide to navigating the historical figures who led the revolution that can be accessed during viewing; and Facts Are Stubborn Things, a mode to watch with on-screen historical guides. In addition, Disc Three includes the featurette The Making Of John Adams (HD, 29:12) and David McCullough: Painting With Words (HD 39:13), a documentary on David McCullough, writer of the book that inspired this series.

The grimy color schemes and understated contrasts give the VC-1-encoded 1080p picture an appropriately dated appearance. Details are delivered nicely, with fine textures in clothing and on faces naturally appealing. Still, images appear slightly soft, when compared to the best high-definition releases. Colors are somewhat muted, with a slightly desaturated appearance, which also lends well to the dated appearance of the video. Black levels are deep, although not inky, but shadows are delineated nicely. The picture has an adequate appearance of depth, although scenes can appear somewhat flat. Fleshtones are naturally defined, with differences in various skintones adequately differentiated. (Danny Richelieu)

With a broad front soundstage that delivers impressively recorded details and good separation of individual effects, the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtracks can sound very natural. The surround channels are used effectively, although there are moments when their subtlety drowns their effectiveness from the mix. Dialogue is recorded well, although there is an audible distortion that muffles the fine detail in the voices. Music is presented well, using each of the channels. Gunshots sound very realistic, with a quickness and impact of bass that brings them to life. The LFE channel is used effectively, creating a solid foundation for the sub-35 Hz bass that is delivered through each of the full-range channels at times. These are enjoyable soundtracks that do their part in moving the stories along. (Danny Richelieu)