Monday, September 2, 2013

Blu-ray Review: THE WALKING DEAD - THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON

THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON
5-Disc Set 

Label: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Region Code: A
Rating: 688 Minutes
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French Dolby Surround 2.0 with Optional English and Spanish Subtitles
Director: 
Cast: Andrew Lincoln, Laurie Holden, Sarah Wayne Callies, Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, David Morrissey, Michael Rooker 

Synopsis: In this uncertain world, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his band of survivors must not only fight the dead, but also face a whole new fear: the living. In this 16 episode season, the series Entertainment Weekly called the “greatest thriller ever produced for television”, Rick and his fellow survivors continue to seek refuge in a desolate and post-apocalyptic world and soon discover that there are greater forces to fear than just the walking dead. The struggle to survive has never been so perilous. This season also introduces new characters, including the Governor (David Morrissey) and fan-favorite Michonne (Danai Gurira), along with her zombie pets.

I love me some Walking Dead and judging my the numbers the show pulls in every week I am not alone, nor am I alone in thinking that Season 2 was a bit of shitter after a pretty great first season, or first half of the first season anyway. Last season we saw the group mostly on the farm and in search of a little lost girl, it felt like a Lord of the Rings entry at some points with all that walking through the forests. Oh, and the whole love triangle shit was just damn awful, it started feeling like a daytime soap opera but the finale amped it up a bit, not enough to pull the entire carcass outta the shitter but - SPOILER ALERT - when Shane was taken out permanently I definitely breathed a sigh of relief, it was about damn time. 


Season three started off pretty strong with the group taking refuge in the prison and the introduction of some awesome new characters, first we have the reveal of Michonne (Danaie Gurira) who pulled Andrea's ass outta the fire at the end of season 2, this woman is an eyeful of ebony-skinned samurai sword bad-assery. How bad ass? Well, she's got a few de-limbed, toothless walkers to tote around her belongings - that's awesome. Michonne is by far the best thing to happen to the show since Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) showed-up. Then we have the duplicitous character of the Governor (David Morrissey) who presides over a small gated community named Woodbury, he's sorta like Rick's alter-ego and is the main antagonist this season, and maybe even beyond, just wait and see. 

Our group takes heavy casualties this season, it's a blood-soaked zombie apocalypse with some fantastic zombie make-up and gore effects from the KNB EFX team - some of the best make-up effects yet for the show - and some of the best zombies in all of cinema in my opinion - and the heads are being lopped off as never before thanks in no small part to Michonne and her sword - that things is dripping with blood every episode, and some of it rather stomach-churning, there are a few head-smashed that are just grotesque, gore hounds will be ecstatic. 

If you loved the character of Daryl Dixon the past few seasons prepare to get wet in the panties for season three, the dude outshines even Grimes in my opinion, great stuff. We lose a few original cast members along the way, so be prepared for some real shockers, no one is safe. Returning to the show after a lengthy absence is Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of Serial Killer) as Daryl's older and meaner slice of Southern red-neckery, Merle, love his characters arc this season. Unfortunately Laurie Holden as Andrea is conflicted, her loyalties are torn between the group she was separated from at the end of season 2 and her new home in Woodbury with the Governor. I really feel like she was given a thankless arc this time out, definitely a misstep, she's always been a bit of a pain in the ass, even in season 1, and she deserved better this season. 

Another addition from the Woodbury camp is a scientist named Milton (Dallas Roberts) whom is unwilling to turn off his moral compass even in the face of the zombie apocalypse and against the Governor, it makes for some nice dramatic moments, and the way that he and Andrea's arcs meet-up at the end of the season is powerful stuff. 

Hershel's around this season, he's still the moral compass of the group following the sad departure of Dale in season two, he tries to hold the group together but it's getting more difficult as Grimes is suffers a catastrophic event and goes right off the deep end at a time when the group needs him more than ever, it's a dire series of events this season and he just doesn't weather it well I am afraid. Stepping up to the plate we see an increased leadership role not just from Daryl, but also Glenn (Steven Yuen) and the young Carl (Chandler Riggs), the latter of whom is quite the burgeoning bad-ass, but with a darker edge more akin to Shane than of his own father, at one point he must do the unthinkable and we are left to wonder what the zombie-apocalypse future holds for this young boy.

Let us not forget Rick's wife Lori (Sarah Waynes) who at the start of the season is eight and a half months pregnant and despite the departure of Shane we find that her and Rick are not in a healthy place. After a few seasons I have grown to dislike her a lot, thought she was downright annoying in season 2 and I enjoyed where they took her this season. 

The stories this season are well-crafted and balanced, taut with an oppressive tension right down to the bone, there's poignancy and blood-letting, the moments of joy are far and few between and things only get more desperate as the season pushes on. One of my favorite aspects of the season was the use of weaponized zombies, it just so perfectly awful. 

Blu-ray: The set arrives in an over sized Blu-ray keepcase with a carboard slipcover from Anchor Bay Entertainment whom present the series in the original broadcast aspect ratio (1.78;1) in 1080p hi-def and it looks fantastic, it's a great looking series, while it's not super fine detailed, the aesthetic of the show is a bit muted color wise and it's a it gritty looking production, the Blu-ray captures it all quite nicely. Audio options include choice of English language Dolby TrueHD 7.1 and French Dolby Surround 2.0 with optional English and Spanish subtitles, it's a very nice audio presentation with some nice use of the directionals, it's exceptionally clear and well-balanced, gun shots are piercing, there's the ambient sounds of insects and the dialogue is clear, this is a great edition from Anchor Bay. 


The series is presented on 5-discs with the special features being relegated to disc five including a selection of deleted scenes and eight featurettes which touch on the evolution of Carl as a character, the Governor, the relationship between Lori and Rick, the prison location, the Kintana swinging Michonne vs. the Governor, Nicotero's make-up designs and the gore of the show, some interesting stuff for fans of the show. There are also five episode specific audio commentaries spread throughout the discs, there's a good amount of insightful bonus content here for fans of the series. 

Special Features: 
- Audio Commentaries on ep. 4 (Guy Ferland and actor IronE Singleton), ep. 5 (Director/Co-Executive Producer Greg Nicotero and actor Danai Gurira), ep. 8 (Executive Producer/Writer Robert Kirkman), ep. 9 (Executive Producer Gale AnneHurd and Danai Gurira), and ep. 15 (Director/Co-Executive Producer Greg Nicotero and actor Michael Rooker) 
- Deleted Scenes (13:20): Walk with Me, Say the Word, Hounded, Home, I Ain't No Judas, Clear
- Rising Son Featurette (6:47) 

- Evil Eye Featurette (7:54) 
- Gone, But Not Forgotten Featurette (8:15)
- Heart of a Warrior Featurette (8:25)
- Michonne vs. The Governor Featurette 95:13)
- Safety Behind Bars Featurette (9:44)
- Making the Dead Featurette (8:06)
- Guts and Glory Featurette 7:42)

Verdict: The Walking Dead - The Complete Third Season is some of the most thrilling television in recent memory, definitely the best we've seen from the show since the first half of the first season, sure there's some arcs that's annoyed me a bit but for the most part the show was firing on all cylinders and delivering tense story lines with a lot of fantastic gore for the zombie-enthusiasts, a definite recommend. Personally, October 13th just cannot get here fast enough for me, ravenous for more of The Walking Dead! 4.5 Outta 5 

No comments:

Post a Comment