ROOTS Blu-ray Review

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In the spirit of the original, ROOTS is a very hard-hitting look at the time period during slavery.  Like the original series, it follows the stories of Kunta Kinte and his family’s lineage from Africa to America.  The time period runs from before the American Revolutionary War to the thirteenth amendment of the US Constitution when the slaves are freed after the Civil War.

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ROOTS was originally broadcasted on the History Channel and it’s based on the book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley.  Just like in the original, there is a ton of talent throughout the series.  The two standouts have to be Malachi Kirby as Kunta Kinte and Forest Whitaker as Fiddler.  Together, these actors have some of the most moving and powerful performances I’ve seen in quite some time.  Just be ready to have your heart swell when you’re watching the series.  Also, there is graphic content so you have been warned.
If you didn’t know already, the series can be a bit on the graphic side but, I guess unfortunately, it is authentic.  They show the brutality of the time period and you can feel the hardships of what they had to endure.  The History Channel does have the tendency to go all out with their shows to make sure that the stories “entertain” but also teach about what ever the subject matter is. 
Laurence Fishburne as Alex Haley who does the voiceover narration
Malachi Kirby – Kunta Kinte
Nokuthula Ledwaba – Binta Kinte
Emayatzy Corinealdi – Belle
Forest Whitaker – Henry or Fiddler
Anna Paquin – Nancy Holt
Anika Noni Rose – Kizzy Waller
Regé-Jean Page – Chicken George
T.I. – Cyrus
Mekhi Phifer – Jerusalem
Erica Tazel – Matilda
James Purefoy – John Waller
Katie McGuinness — Elizabeth Waller
Matthew Goode – Dr. William Waller
Jonathan Rhys Meyers – Tom Lea
Shannon Lucio – Patricia Lea
Chad Coleman – Mingo
Tony Curran – Connelly
Derek Luke – Silla Ba Dibba
G Hannelius – Missy Waller
Carlacia Grant – Irene
Sam Malone – Ashford
Denise Milfort – Ms. Ellen
Mandela Van Peebles – Noah
Terence Rosemore – Orly
Lane Garrison – Frederick Murray
Sedale Threatt Jr. – Tom
Brett Rice – William Byrd

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The transfer is a 1080p AVC presentation.

The transfer on this release is superb.  The contrasting of the images on screen keeps every object separated with clean lines.  This makes for the details to stand out and easily be seen in practically every scene.  Some of the best detailing is in clothing being worn like Fiddler, Chicken George, and especially Kunta at the beginning of the first night.  There are also plenty of points where the color is absolutely brilliant on screen.  Again, these are in the clothing worn in Juffure and the greens in the entire series.  This also makes the lushness of the plantations and the African jungles feel real.

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The audio is a DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix.
With so much of the scenes being shot outside, there is a strong ambient sound on the mix.  You can hear the wind in the trees and the animals in the distance on this multifaceted audio track.  Many of the other sound effects like some of the war scenes also do well with movement around the sound field.  Overall, this is a sharp mix for the entire series.

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-Roots: A History Revealed: This featurette is not the typical behind the scenes or super informative extra.  This is more of a flashy, long commercial for the miniseries.

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Disc Details
3-disc Blu-ray set
UltraViolet copy
Running Time
389 min
Edition Ratings
Rated PG-13
Region Coding
Region A
Video Resolution
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Audio Mixes
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
English SDH

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This remake of the classic series has both differences and similarities to the original but this doesn’t have the same impact as the original.  Most likely because when the original hit TVs in the 70’s, it was the very first of its kind and now, it takes a lot to shock anymore.  To be fair, that was almost 40 years ago and the country was very different then.  The content restriction on TV was a lot tighter than today so some of the things they’re showing won’t have the same effect on the surface. The being said, the series may not be the easiest subject matter to watch but the message, as well as the performances, makes it worth it.  The release has an excellent video transfer and audio mix that brings the series to life.  The sole feature on the release is on the third disc so the extras are very light.  With all that being said, I think that people who have seen the original will like this newer version and newcomers will appreciate it as well.  I recommend checking this out.

Order your copy from Amazon

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About the author

MEDIA JOURNALIST/ REVIEWER/STAFF WRITER | Michael is a fanatic about all cinema old and new. He collects anything from 1:6 Scale Collectibles and vinyl collectibles to movies and Steelbooks. He loves pop culture, writing, reviewing films & collectibles, and journalism. An avid Batman, The Joker and anything comics junkie, he will also chat it up about pretty much anything. Go ahead and ask...