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93 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done.
I am a middle school history teacher so I purchased this to show my students. So far we have only watched about the Stone Age but my students BEGGED me to leave it on! They can't wait until we get to Egypt to watch more. I have several students who have been less than enthusiastic about history so when I hear those students leaving to go home & saying they're going to go...
Published 19 months ago by R. Imhoff

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121 of 124 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Balancing Information With Entertainment: An Ambitious Miniseries Sometimes Has More Style Than Substance
For good or for bad, "Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us" is the quintessential History Channel miniseries. In twelve episodes that span the globe, the show has broad ambitions that sometimes provide interesting facts and sometimes merely spectacle. It's a glitzy effort that is loaded with dramatic recreations and CGI effects and oftentimes seems content to be more...
Published 19 months ago by K. Harris


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121 of 124 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Balancing Information With Entertainment: An Ambitious Miniseries Sometimes Has More Style Than Substance, December 3, 2012
This review is from: Mankind: The Story of All of Us [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
For good or for bad, "Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us" is the quintessential History Channel miniseries. In twelve episodes that span the globe, the show has broad ambitions that sometimes provide interesting facts and sometimes merely spectacle. It's a glitzy effort that is loaded with dramatic recreations and CGI effects and oftentimes seems content to be more entertainment oriented than educational. As actual history, one can't really hope to boil down the rise of civilization across the world to a mere 9 hours (without commercials) but "Mankind" gives it a go with intermittent success. This is not a text book lesson or a college course, though, if you're looking for a classic presentation. This is an ADD whirlwind across various cultures and time frames hitting on subjects both vital and somewhat arbitrary. The episodes don't slow down for an in-depth analysis of any particular topic, but race across time jamming as much content as possible into each segment. Its focus, by its own description, is on "Big History."

Made by the creative forces behind the successful series "America: The Story of Us," this new docu-series is stretched across 12 distinct episodes and 3 discs (in both Blu-ray format or DVD) for a total of nine hours and twelve minutes. The Bonus Features include a random selection of additional footage, but nothing in these choices added much value content for me. The show, however, does look terrific in the hi-def Blu-ray transfer which makes the most of the recreations (which get bolder and more battle-centric as the series progresses).

The episodes are as follows (each approximately 46 minutes): (1) Inventors, (2) Iron Men, (3) Empires, (4) Warriors, (5) Plague, (6) Survivors, (7) New World, (8) Treasure, (9) Pioneers, (10) Revolutions, (11) Speed, and (12) New Frontiers.

If you are familiar with contemporary History Channel programming, you are more apt to know what to expect with "Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us." Sensationalized and over-the-top, the program can present even the most mundane topic in an overheated manner. From an intro that has a mummy opening its eyes (a dubious choice) to early episodes that set tasks like iron smelting to an electronic dance beat and slow motion video, it's all about the presentation. And as the opportunity to create bigger and more violent dramatic recreations becomes available, the show never hesitates to plunge right in. If you watch the History Channel, this undoubtedly won't surprise you. If, however, you are completely unfamiliar with the History series format, I might suggest sampling an episode before making the full investment. My guess, this will either really appeal to you or it will really not.

Josh Brolin does the heavy lifting as the narrator, really emphasizing the importance of each new development. He virtually gasps with breathy anticipation as each new subject is ever more riveting than the last! The show's expert commentators vary in credentials, but seem camera ready and eager to participate in the spectacle as well. They include military expert Richard Machowitz (Deadliest Warrier), Dr. Mehmet Oz, Ian Morris and Patrick Hunt (of Stanford), celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, writer Sam Sheridan, Brian Williams (from NBC) and Jason Meigs (Popular Mechanics).

In the end, "Mankind: The Story Of All Of Us" is easy enough to enjoy as an entertainment program. But I don't know that it fully succeeds at its proposed goals. You want pure science and history, this isn't it. You want a glossy and well made intro to topics that might be of further interest to you, this might be an effective overview. What you get out of this one is directly proportional to what your expectations are going in. Overall, about 3 1/2 stars for me. KGHarris, 12/12.
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93 of 100 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done., December 6, 2012
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R. Imhoff (Port Saint Lucie, FL United States) - See all my reviews
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I am a middle school history teacher so I purchased this to show my students. So far we have only watched about the Stone Age but my students BEGGED me to leave it on! They can't wait until we get to Egypt to watch more. I have several students who have been less than enthusiastic about history so when I hear those students leaving to go home & saying they're going to go home to watch the History Channel, and come back the next day actually having done it...very encouraging :)
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Darn Good Given the Scope, December 20, 2012
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Peter T. Wolf "Gilded Age Lover" (lake forest, ca United States) - See all my reviews
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Let me start by writing that this series was considerably better than I thought it would be. It is a big challenge to create a series of this scope without making major mistakes. And the creators have managed that.
First let me pay tribute to Josh Brolin's excellent narration. Working from an excellent script, he combined the right balance of gravitas and breathless awe in describing the man's greatest achievements. Peter Coyote and David McCullogh have always been my benchmarks for big-scale documentary narrations, and Brolin easily matches them.
Second: The pacing and editing was well done over all these hours of material. I especially liked the zeroing in on specific people ( some of whom even I, as an historian, was unaware of), to bring this vast story down to a manageable scale.
Third: The program bravely emphasized the paramount importance of war in the development of human 'progress'. I was continually amazed at the courage of the producers in making this very clear despite our anti-military, poltically correct era.
Fourth an most important: The producers overall selected the right events and people to tell the story of mankind. I have some disagreements, like where was the Renaissance?? Incredibly it received virtually no mention. But given the thousands of years to be covered, not everything could be tackled. I was not particuarily impressed with the resident 'experts' that punctuated the narration. None of them were of sufficient renown for such a vast undertaking as this program. Contrast that with the recent 'The Men Who Built America' program, where a veritable whos-who of American tycoons showed up for pithy observations.

Summary: This program well deserves a place in your DVD collection and should be required viewing in High School history classes.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mankind; Story of All of Us, December 11, 2012
As an AP art history teacher, this series helps my students "see" the progression of time and allows them visual references to help place artifacts they have studied into their rightful place in history. Watching the Viking burial scene and recalling the artifacts from the Sutton Hoo ship brings it all together better than reading Beowulf. I've enjoyed it and look forward to having for my classes on sub days, or to wrap up segments before exams.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This series was great!!!, December 22, 2012
I am so surprised at these negative reviews. I am not a historian, but I do have a great love for travel and history. I think that the illustration brought to life my memories from high school and college history classes. Of course you can't properly tell the entire story of mankind within 9 hours of video but for me, I became interested in researching topics that I wanted to learn more about on my own. I only wish that this mini series could have lasted a couple of seasons to dig a little deeper. But overall I think that's the point of this series: to get the average person to be more interested in the history of our world, and for me, it worked. It was fun, full of action, and I can't wait to purchase the DVDs!
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Popcorn History, December 6, 2012
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This History Miniseries special is done by the same team as "America: The Story of Us" (which I loathed). The first positive that I noticed was that they got rid of the celebrity commentaries (for the most part, Brian Williams from NBC is one of the commentators on this one and I have to question what his authority is on world history). The information is shallow and basic. Any real historian or history buff will not learn that much new information. The presentation is well done. They have great graphics, cinematography, music, etc. Josh Brolin is an alright narrator, but his voice is fairly flat for me personally.

Once again, this is a very brief overview of humanity and civilization. They don't dive into many specifics and skip many major points in history entirely (No Cyrus, Alexander the Great, Punic Wars, Wars of the Three Kingdoms, No explanation of the Caliphs and Islam (straight to the Crusades), No Charlemagne and the Franks, No William the Conqueror, No focus on Japan or Korea (yet), No Southeastern Asia or India for that matter. They do a segment on Mali, very brief. Brief segments on the Aztecs, Incans, and Polynesians. It seems they are trying to take more obscure stories and tell them with European history (with some major ones: Christianity, Fall of Constantinople, Columbus, the Plague) along with giving a brief overview of non-European societies. If I wasn't a history teacher, it would be hard to follow sometimes.

Anyway, the episodes are what they are: Popcorn history. Their main purpose is entertainment and I will consider showing one or two of them in my classes for sick days with substitutes. Or maybe I will have the students do an assignment analyzing the validity of an episode with real historic research, who knows.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mankind: Visually stunning but thin on any actual history., August 12, 2013
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Start with 1 cup Roland Emmerich and 1 cup Michael Bay. Throw in Josh Brolin hamming it up by reading every line like it was a one-liner, a couple of painted actors, tons of slo-mo/shaky cam/fight scenes/battle/war/CG blood, shoot on location in Greenland and Africa, and add a bunch of CGI. Stir. Garnish with mummy opening it's eyes, because heck why not! Sprinkle of actual facts and history on the side.

You get Mankind: The Story of All of Us.

This is a documentary aimed squarely at the American public audience, 15-25 year old's. This is the History Channel at it's most sensational, most OTT, most vivid, and most Hollywoodized. Mankind clearly has things going for it. The reenactments are absolutely stunning and very ambitious. The costumes are rich, the colours are vivid, the actors are competent, and it makes for great, action-packed watching. The battle scenes are stunning, and the CGI is undoubtedly grand and epic. Visually, Mankind does not disappoint; grand, epic, and often incredibly beautiful.

But it's amazing how little darn history there ACTUALLY is. Rock-hard facts are minimal and dates are almost non-existent. Civilizations, emperors, kings, gods, and peoples come and go in the blink of an eye. Everything is an action scene, and Josh Brolin is certainly anything but subtle. This is more Hollywood entertainment, NOT history, and I ask teachers and parents to refrain from showing this AS actual history in a school or classroom or anything. It is impossible to cover mankind's thousands of years of existence in a mere 10 hours.

The interviewees are even worse, chosen strictly for what cool things they could say and how vividly they could say it rather than on credentials or even knowledge. There's a young writer (on a HISTORY channel?) who insists he knows all about hunger: "you will spend 4 hours talking with your friends about your next meal", cold: "extreme cold is like an animal", and cannibalism: "when you get really hungry, you will eat your friends", he says, like he has been there and done that. There's a marine who never blinks: "Tools make me better. Weapons make me stronger", and "When you see guys rushing to take your land that you worked so hard on, you think, I don't want that to happen. I will stop you." Yes, yes, there's a smattering of professors and history teachers, but on the majority any facts they gave were a major disappointment.

It was like any knowledge in the series was unintentional and an afterthought to the (admittedly very good) reenactments.

Mankind: The Story of (Almost) All of Us is meant to be entertainment, and it IS entertaining. It's cool watching the first wolf get domesticated or the pyramids built. The cinematography is often very beautiful, and the costumes are, for the most part, period accurate. Visually, the series is absolutely stunning, and you can hold me to that statement. But cerebrally? Non-existent. Your children will learn more about history by reading books and looking at maps and watching BBC (the only channel to make their documentaries entertaining and informative) documentaries than by watching this. For the history buff (like me), Mankind can be simpleminded, but it's undoubtedly a splendid feast for the eyes.

My rating? Three undead mummies out of Five.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars History Professor Brian Williams - Really?, December 19, 2012
This review is from: Mankind: The Story of All of Us [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
This is a tough one to rate, since 95% of the series deserves a 5+ star, but the bad parts were REALLY bad. In particular I was so annoyed by their choice of "experts" to add commentary throughout the series that an otherwise great series gets 3 stars. Brian Williams was the worst. A man blessed with good looks, paid millions of dollars a year to read a teleprompter to deliver the evening news, is now an expert on all aspects of the history of the world. I was waiting for the History Channel to turn to Sarah Palin for her knowledge of the ice age and Elizabeth Warren for her first hand experience with American Indians.

Apparently this annoys a lot of people, since it was the basis of the South Park spoof on the History Channel. In that episode of the cartoon comedy, fourth grader Stan Marsh was interviewed ("Dr. Stan Marsh") by the History Channel for his expertise on the role that space aliens played in the first Thanksgiving.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great overview., December 5, 2012
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This tries to cover a lot of ground in a short time, obviously, but as a way to get kids in particular to think history is exciting and interesting I think it's pretty good. Not a complete source of info, but a great jumping-off point.

I teach history to 5th Graders and have kids of my own, so I watch these shows with an eye to what I know will engross children. How often do you hear kids say, "Oh, boy!" when you tell them it's time for history?? These kinds of shows (and a great teacher) bring this stuff to life.

"Empires Pt. 1" features Jesus, St. Paul, and an overview of the Roman Empire. This was one of the highlights of the series, with great storytelling and exciting visuals of the scale and scope of Rome.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Frank Millers version of the history of Mankind, March 3, 2014
I originally had high hopes for the Mankind series, but after the first episode I was not impressed. The show gleams over tons of information, and when it does focus on anything (Slow motion fighting) it's so brief and obscure that you learn nothing.
If you want to learn about the development of Mankind, read or watch "Guns, Germs, and Steel". The Mankind series is more focused on entertaining you, which is why they have the guys from Deadliest Warrior (Richard "Mack" Machowicz feeds on the drama) as the "experts". I grew up watching the history channel when they produced shows without all of the over the top drama.
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Mankind: The Story of All of Us [Blu-ray]
Mankind: The Story of All of Us [Blu-ray] by The History Channel (Blu-ray - 2012)
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