Showing posts with label television review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television review. Show all posts

5 August 2013

Boardwalk Empire – Season 3 Blu Ray Review

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Rating: 15
DVD/BD Release Date: 5th August 2013 (UK)
Cast:  , Bobby Cannavale
Buy Boardwalk Empire Season 3: [DVD] / [Blu-ray]

Boardwalk Empire – the winner of 12 Emmy Awards – finally sees its third season released on DVD and Blu-ray, and fans of complex television drama will not be disappointed. Picking up sixteen months after season 2’s shocking finale, this latest season kicks off on New Year’s Eve 1923. Nucky (Steve Buscemi) and Margaret’s (Kelly Macdonald) marriage is tense at best, and there is a new high profile bootlegger in town, in the form of Bobby Cannavale’s Gyp Rosetti.

As can be expected, HBO has once again delivered a first rate show; one which not only rivals, but surpasses in quality most Hollywood films right now. In many ways, parallels can be drawn between Boardwalk Empire and The Wire (another much-praised HBO series). Each episode requires the viewer’s utmost attention if they mean to understand the plot fully, for there is a large amount of characters – residing in a variety of US states – for us to follow. This factor has both its upsides and downsides. On the one hand, this means that each individual storyline cannot be given as much air time as – I for one – would like them to; but on the other, this does result in the few moments we have with them seeming all the more exciting. This is none more true than in the case of the excellent Michael Shannon’s government agent turned outlaw Nelson Van Alder, a truly fascinating character, whose narrative I hope will be given more attention next season.

With season 3, Boardwalk creator Terence Winter has delivered a beautifully constructed period piece, filled with impressive performances from its cast, and outstanding production values which really bring the roaring twenties to life. While many of the show’s themes – loss and loneliness for example – are sombre in tone; these are alleviated by a quirky, upbeat jazz soundtrack and magical photography work. Not to be missed.


Sophie Stephenson

29 April 2013


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Rome, as they say, wasn't built in a day, and neither was the epic television drama series Spartacus which reaches its climax with the third season Spartacus: War of the Damned, newly released on DVD and Blu-ray this week. The series which has won legions of fans since it premiered with Spartacus: Blood and Sand (2010) and continued with Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (2011) and Spartacus: Vengeance (2012), is a show which is definitely not for the faint hearted. It will take those with nerves of steel to endure both the length and sheer violence of a show which brings graphic onscreen brutality and sex to a whole new level.

The fight against Rome and her oppressive regime, headed by rebel leader Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) and his bloodthirsty generals, reaches a bloody climax when he leads his army into a final battle against the empire in the form of Roman military officer Marcus Crassus (Simon Merrells) and his men. In the ensuing confrontation there can only be one victor in a battle of epic proportions.

It's always hard to be subjective if you are coming to an established television series fresh. Many shows take time to grow on you, with the characters becoming as familiar to fans as their own family and friends, with the story-lines progressing over weeks and years. Which might explain why, if this is the first time you will have seen (or in my case) heard of the Spartacus television series, you may not really get it. Having now watched the show, I have to say that I can't work out for the life of me who it's aimed at.

The show's advertising and promotional campaign makes no bones about the fact that it isn't selling itself as anything other than a drama focusing around war and sex - on which basis it is probably a pretty accurate portrayal of the pass-times of much of the Roman Empire at the time. Following the lives and intertwined relationships of Spartacus and his arch enemy Marcus Crassus, the show is a modern, high-tech take on the old Hollywood sword and sandal epic, albeit with a much grittier edge.

However, authenticity (which the show admittedly has in spades) aside, it's not long before each hour long episode starts feeling like a battle to get through. Full-frontal, man on woman, man on man and woman on woman sex which leaves very little to the imagination, as well as gory, visceral violence (including beheadings, disembowelment and crucifixion) that you wouldn't expect to see outside a video nasty, makes for tough viewing, unless you're a prepubescent teenage schoolboy who gets kicks from watching something he knows he shouldn't. The dialogue by Steven S. DeKnight also grates with a stiltedness which is clearly meant to invoke a period feel, but quickly becomes arduous for the viewer to decipher or comprehend. As for the overuse of the 'f' word which litters the character's vocabulary at every opportunity - one is simply left weary by the end.

I genuinely wish I'd got the show, as it clearly has something of interest for a lot of people. However for this critic it was a particularly unpleasant experience of epic proportions and, like the period of time it depicts, better consigned to the annals of ancient history.


Cleaver Patterson

DVD/BD Release Date: 29th April 2013 (UK)
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