History of the World in Two Hours (3D Blu-ray Review)16 May, 2012 By: John Latchem
$19.95 DVD, $29.95 Blu-ray
For a history lesson, no one is going to accuse History of the World in Two Hours of lacking ambition. It merely seeks to explain existence from the Big Bang up to now. To keep up with its tagline, “13.7 Billion Years in the Making,” it’s bound to gloss over a few things.
But first let’s deal with that “Two Hours” part. Stripped of the commercials that accompany it on cable airings, the documentary’s running time tops out at only an hour and a half, and several minutes of that are devoted to recapping things from earlier in the show, just in case viewers forgot during what would have been a commercial break, or tuned in halfway through it.
So really, it’s the history of everything in just over an hour, which is actually a pretty impressive feat, and Mel Brooks is nowhere to be found. On top of all that, everything is summarized neatly at the end (History of the World in Two Minutes?), bringing to mind the opening title sequence of “The Big Bang Theory” but with narration instead of a catchy song.
The first half-hour or so is a primer in astrophysics, as stars form and collide for 10 billion years to create a complex array of elements needed for any future civilization to thrive. And then we get things like the formation of the moon, the dawn of life, the reign of the dinosaurs, ice ages, yada yada, all told with some rudimentary CGI, hyper-realistic re-creations of historic events and a lot of neat 3D effects. The outer space visuals are a bit more effective than the Earth-bound stuff.
Of course, people have been around only for the past million years or so, a span of time so cosmically short the documentary lays it out with a clever analogy that if the universe’s age were condensed into 14 years, humanity’s time in it would amount to just the past three minutes.
The specifics of human history is mostly irrelevant to this documentary’s purpose, other than brief mentions about certain geological features would lead to something millions of years later, technological innovations or basic events of profound geo-political significance (such as the voyage of Christopher Columbus to reunite the hemispheres).
It may not be the whole story, but at least it’s a start.