From the planets to the stars and out to the edge of the unknown, history and science collide in H2′s popular series 'The Universe.' With ground-breaking new discoveries and even more stunning high-definition computer animations, it's a wondrous yet deadly adventure through space and time. Fifty years have flown by since man first ventured into outer space, but the heavens are only now yielding their greatest secrets. Like the recent destructive impact on Jupiter reported to be by a comet or asteroid nearly the size of Earth, new phenomena are being discovered almost daily. Scientists are finding new planets and views into the deepest reaches of space, breaking new ground in understanding the universe and its mysteries. In this new season, viewers are transported to new and mysterious places including ones we didn’t even know existed a year ago—some harboring deadly forces that may forever impact life on Earth.
The History Channel certainly has a knack for telling us different scenarios for how the world might end. And if you've been watching their show 'The Universe' for the last seven seasons, you would be very knowledgeable on how our planet might meet its demise by some cosmological force or nature. If you aren't familiar with 'The Universe', this series takes you on a journey and discusses the astronomical objects in our universe with interviews of scientists, doctors, professors, and engineers.
Topics have included far off planets, the sun, aliens, spaceships, and even sex in space. And with just about each episode, there is always some segment that would talk about Earth's impending doom in "what if" scenarios. If anything, this show definitely gives you another take and makes you look at our world and universe a bit differently, with facts, theories, and maybe even some conspiracy theories thrown in there for good measure. The box art says this is season seven, but most people think this is in fact season eight, as it is separate from last year's season seven. I'd like to think of this as more of an off-shoot from the regular series. This only contains four episodes and has the subtitle 'Ancient Mysteries Solved'. While some of these episodes deal with space, a few of them discuss famous landmarks on our very own planet, such as Stonehenge and the great Pyramids in Egypt, and how they might have been constructed for something completely different than what we have learned.
In the episode 'Stonehenge', we take a look at the rock formations found in England and some of the cool and interesting things you would see if you were to go there. It also shows us that maybe this rock formation was built for astronomical reasons and how it can chart the moon, the sun, and other planets in our galaxy. Ball State University went so far as to create a computer program that has digitally replicated Stonehenge and can move freely through the environment and tell us how each rock formation can chart different objects in space.
In the 'Pyramids' episode, scientists and engineers discuss just how well built the pyramids actually are. They go into some of the types of rock and brick that were used to build the giant structures and even talk about how they were made to point out things in the night sky. Some even suggest that these were portals or on-ramps to the universe above and were constructed in such a way that the people who built them knew exactly how to tell where planets and other stars were. One guy even thought that the pyramids were teleportation machines for human souls. I'd like to have that guy at my dinner table for a chat.
The next episode is titled 'Heavenly Destruction' and focuses on the theoretical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Where are those wiped out cities and is there any information or artifacts from these biblical towns? This episode goes into these types of questions and poses a theory that it might have been a giant asteroid that wiped out these populations. This is definitely the more 'doomsday' segment of these episodes. Finally, we have the 'Star of Bethlehem' episode that discusses scientists, researchers, and doctors trying to fin evidence that could have created this event that is talked about in the Bible. People bring up several different Comets, supernovas, and planets aligning that seem to make up these explanations.
'The Universe: Ancient Mysteries Solved' mainly poses theories and scientific guesses as to what might have happened with these wonders of our world, rather than actually solving these mysteries with one-hundred percent certainty. But the special effects, interviews, and computer renderings of our universe are very well done and it keeps you attention throughout. Don't expect this to be the be-all-end-all documentary on all this, but rather like Kuato said in 'Total Recall', "Open your mind".
'The Universe: Ancient Mysteries Solved' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. There is a mix of archival footage, new footage, CG renderings of the universe, and talking head interviews here. The archival footage looks cleaned up a bit, but still has some dirt, debris and softer looking picture. The newer footage, along with the interviews and CG work look very sharp and vivid, giving us a very nice image of depth and clarity.
Since a lot of this season takes place on Earth and not in outer space, we don't much in the way of CG special effects like we have in previous seasons. But the images of the pyramids and Stonehenge look amazing. The interviews are very clear and sharp and show the interview subject's wrinkles and hairs quite nicely. Colors are bright and vibrant and seem to pop off-screen, especially during the CG sequences. The contrast is great, the black levels are deep and inky, and skin tones look natural. Besides some of the archival footage being a little dirty, this comes with no compression problems or any other issues. This is a solid video presentation.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix and it sound very good for a documentary. It's not overly loud, but rahter well-balanced with good surround and ambient noises. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand without any pops, cracks, or hissing throughout the program.
During the heavier CG scenes, the sound effects ramp up and pour from the surrounds, however, during the interviews and location shots, this isn't the case too much, although some nature sounds can be heard while on location. The LFE is quite good and the dynamic range is wide as well. This is a great audio presentation for a documentary series.
Trailers (HD, 6 mins.) - Trailers for other Lionsgate films.
This off-shoot of season seven of 'The Universe' from The History Channel is quite intriguing. It takes some of the historical events and landmarks of our planet and has tried to solve their intentions and how they were constructed. Most of which had astrological designs and goals. These episodes have good pacing and keep your attention, even if some of the views and theories are far-fetched. The video and audio presentations are very good, but there are no extras related to the series on here. For fans of the show, you'll want to pick this up, for the rest of us, give this a rent.