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    Revolution: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review

    Blu-ray Warner TV Reviews

    Sep 20 2013 05:45 PM | Cameron Yee in DVD & Blu-ray Reviews
    It’s been 15 years since a worldwide blackout plunged society into a post-apocalyptic dark age, but now there’s light at the end of the tunnel. NBC’s popular, but at times uneven, survival series shines in high definition courtesy of Warner Home Video.

    Title Info:

    • Studio: Warner Brothers
    • Distributed By: N/A
    • Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
    • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
    • Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 2.0 DD
    • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
    • Rating: Not Rated
    • Run Time: Approx. 15 hrs.
    • Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UltraViolet
    • Case Type:
    • Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
    • Region: A
    • Release Date: 09/03/2013
    • MSRP: $69.97

    The Production Rating: 3.5/5

    A sudden, inexplicable event causes the entire planet to lose electrical power, sending its governments and civilizations into freefall. Fifteen years later, both the cause and the remedy remain a mystery. Though society has not collapsed entirely, the world operates on a totally different paradigm, from how people find food and shelter and defend themselves, to how governing entities rule over their citizens.

    The states once making up the Northeast United States are now part of the Monroe Republic, ruled over by the military dictator President-General Sebastian Monroe (David Lyons). Monroe has dispatched one of his most brutal officers, Major Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito), and a company of the Militia to find one Ben Matheson (Tim Guinee), a former scientist now living in a village in the former state of Illinois. Monroe believes Ben knows how to get the power back, but in the attempt to arrest him, a scuffle ensues between the Militia and Ben’s son Danny (Graham Rogers), ultimately resulting in the elder Matheson getting fatally wounded. Seeing that Ben won’t survive the trip back, Neville decides to take Danny prisoner instead and leaves his father to die.

    In Ben’s final moments, he charges his daughter Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) with rescuing her brother, telling her to find her uncle Miles (Billy Burke) to help. Joining her on the journey are Aaron (Zak Orth), a former Google executive to whom Ben entrusted a mysterious pendant, and Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips), a British doctor and Ben’s (now former) girlfriend. When the group eventually locates Miles operating a tavern in former Chicago, they’ll find him highly reluctant to get involved. But a Militia spy hunting for Miles ultimately gives him little choice but to flee with his new friends and tacitly agree to help them find Danny.

    As the ragtag group follows Neville’s trail back to the capital of the Republic, they’ll encounter more than a few challenges in the vestiges of American society, not least of which is the ubiquitous Militia looking to kill or capture Miles. What places him so high on its list he won’t say, but it soon becomes clear he has some history and connection, not just with the military group but with its very leader. President-General Monroe has also been holding captive another member of the Matheson family, Charlie’s mother Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell), whom everyone believed was long dead. But not only is she alive, she holds the answers to restoring electricity back to the planet, though with the current state of global politics, that would be giving one especially dangerous individual power of the most absolute kind.

    Created by Eric Kripke, the man behind the series Supernatural, and produced by J.J. Abrams and frequent Abrams collaborator Bryan Burk, NBC’s Revolution contains a highly compelling premise, given the world's reliance on electricity to power both the necessities and luxuries of life. Seeing people reduced to reading by candlelight, operating machines by hand, and using swords, crossbows, and breach loading firearms to defend themselves, makes clear how hamstrung most of the world would be should someone or something pull the plug. More unsettling is the depiction of how society would collapse, and then be shored up by those with less than benevolent interests, though perhaps their initial intentions may have been pure. Though this is the stuff of most post-apocalyptic tales, there's something about the genre that proves endlessly explorable, despite the familiarity of themes after shows like Dark Angel and The Walking Dead.

    Looking past the viability of Kripke's fundamental premise to the quality of characters and narrative throughline, things are not always so well conceived. Viewers may have a largely negative reaction to the character of Charlie, due to both the nature of the part (think Luke Skywalker pleading to go to Tosche Station) and the actor playing her. Spiridakos’ seems to have one go-to expression to communicate everything from frustration to anguish, and her frequent, one note reaction shots wear thin after 20 episodes. Burke as Miles is much more convincing by comparison, bringing the necessary mix of anti-hero charm with a slowly reviving sense of humanity. The supporting players are uniformly effective as well (the geeky members of the audience will especially relate to Aaron), though the writers can be uncompromising in killing them off as the story demands, something that raises the stakes and keeps things relatively unpredictable.

    The narrative flow has its share of ups and downs, with some situations, like the fifth episode’s train caper, feeling especially contrived. The flashbacks to the characters’ lives before the blackout, and how the subsequent events changed them, compensate for most shortcomings, the back story for Neville and Aaron being especially poignant (even though it's laughable how little the characters have aged after 15 years of supposed hardship). What makes the series ultimately worth watching, however, is the overarching mystery behind what caused the blackout, and the quest to reverse it. The unexpected developments in this bigger story lead to a satisfying payoff and compelling cliffhanger finale, setting the stage for an unpredictable start to a second year.

    Revolution: The Complete First Season includes the 20 episodes that originally aired on NBC in 2012 and 2013. The episodes are spread across four Blu-ray discs in the following arrangement:
    • Disc One: Episodes 1-5
    • Disc Two: Episodes 6-11
    • Disc Three: Episodes 12-17
    • Disc Four: Episodes 18-20
    The second season of Revolution is scheduled to premiere on Wednesday, September 25th at 8/7c on NBC.

    Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA

    The episodes, accurately framed at 1.78:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, feature strong blacks, an uncompromised range of contrast, and warm, beautifully saturated color that complements everything from landscapes to skin tones. Detail is spectacular, especially in close ups, with pores and facial hair incredibly resolved, with the occasional cutaway and effects shot looking comparatively limited. Looking for signs of excessive digital processing that would give the images such overall striking clarity, I found none, making Revolution’s presentation one of the strongest I’ve seen for a TV program.

    Audio Rating: 4.5/5

    The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track features crisp, clear dialogue, nicely balanced surround channel effects, and a robust bottom end. The various gun battles and sword fights engage the speaker configuration to its fullest, though a dynamic film score keeps things engaged when dialogue is the main activity.

    Special Features: 3/5

    The extras don't contain anything too surprising, being mostly promotional in nature. Alternative viewing formats fill out the rest of the package.

    An In-Depth Look at the Pilot (14:00, HD): Part video commentary and part electronic press kit, the piece features Creator Eric Kripke and Director Jon Favreau talking about specific scenes from the pilot, which then lead to interviews with members of the cast and production crew describing characters and story.

    Deleted Scenes (HD):
    • Episode 3: “No Quarter” (:19)
    • Episode 4: “The Plague Dogs” (1:34)
    • Episode 6: “Sex and Drugs” (1:59)
    • Episode 7: “The Children’s Crusade” (3:53)
    • Episode 9: “Kashmir” (:38)
    • Episode 11: “The Stand” (:44)
    • Episode 12: “Ghosts” (1:22)
    • Episode 13: “The Song Remains the Same” (1:44)
    • Episode 15: “Home” (5:40)
    • Episode 18: “Clue” (1:34)
    • Episode 19: “Children of Men” (:38)
    Creating a Revolution (19:56, HD): Looks at the conception, development and production of the series.

    Gag Reel (2:04, HD)

    Webisodes (HD): Unaired scenes featuring the character of Neville provide some additional context and backstory.
    • Miles paid me a visit (3:43)
    • Some days you just want to lay down and die (2:50)
    • Private Jacob Wren, you are arrested for treason (2:22)
    • What if I am trying to turn the power back on? (3:15)
    • You’re going to find Ben Matheson (3:46)
    DVD: The episodes presented in standard definition are spread across five DVDs.

    UltraViolet: Redeem by September 3, 2015.

    Overall Rating: 4/5

    Warner Home Video provides a top notch high definition presentation for the first season of NBC’s post-apocalyptic TV series, Revolution. The bonus material includes the requisite items, like deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and alternative viewing formats, making the release a worthwhile one for fans to pick up. Those who didn’t catch the show during its initial broadcast are advised to try the show as a rental or streaming option first, as the genre and this particular iteration of it won’t appeal to everyone.

    Reviewed by: Cameron Yee
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