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Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review

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#1 of 2 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted September 09 2013 - 12:39 PM

Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review

The troubles continue to pile up for Atlantic City bootlegging kingpin Nucky Thompson as he faces another psychopathic mobster looking to take over his operation. The fallout will be brutal and bloody as the era's corrupting influence claims its victims.


Cover Art


Studio: HBO

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS, Other

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other

Rating: TV-MA

Run Time: Approx. 12 hrs.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: A

Release Date: 08/20/2013

MSRP: $79.98




The Production Rating: 4/5

After a tumultuous year in which even his own flesh and blood conspired against him, Atlantic City bootlegging kingpin Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) decides to simplify his operation by selling exclusively to longtime business associate Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg). The New Year’s Eve announcement seems to go over with few complaints, except with Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), a New York gangster who at first seems like just another murderous hothead, but whose twisted pathology will fuel a sadistic and bloody campaign against Nucky and his allies.

Things in the Thompson household are comparatively less volatile, with an unmistakable chill in the air when Nucky and wife Margaret (Kellie MacDonald) are in the same room. Now effectively separated, Nucky spends most of his nights with theatrical ingenue Billie Kent (Meg Chambers Steedle), while Margaret pours her energy into philanthropic projects at the hospital, a result of her unexpected land donation to the Catholic Church, property Nucky had intended for building a revenue-generating highway. Though trying to start a women’s clinic keeps her at a safe distance from Nucky’s business for a time, inevitably the consequences of his activities will endanger not just her life but ultimately her prospects for happiness.

Margaret could probably take a few pointers from Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol) on surviving in a man’s world. Even though her beloved son Jimmy is now dead (at the hands of his mentor Nucky, no less), she’s soldiering on by running his upscale brothel and raising his son Tommy. With the help of meek-but-deadly war veteran Richard Harrow (Jack Huston), she manages to keep her head above water where others might drown, but survival will ultimately mean further sacrifices, especially as the men in her life try to take what’s hers.

Meanwhile, former Prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) has fled to the Chicago area and is living under the name George Mueller, selling clothes irons door-to-door to make ends meet for his new wife and children. Though he tries to steer clear of anything that might alert authorities to his whereabouts, inevitably he’ll find himself mingling with the ilk he once worked so hard to put behind bars. As he finds himself indebted to the local mobsters for various favors, he’ll realize once more how corrosive the times are on those who strive for a just and noble life.

Though there’s little doubt Boardwalk Empire’s third season villain will meet his maker by the final episode, Cannavale’s go-for-broke performance keeps things interesting despite the predictability and proves an effective foil to Buscemi’s more cerebral character.

Buscemi also turns in another riveting, and oddly sympathetic, performance as the beleaguered gangster anti-hero, though Nucky’s progression from corrupt politician to full on mob boss with few remaining moral reservations will push many viewers outside their comfort zone.

The story elements set in the halls of the federal government prove less compelling by comparison. Though Nucky’s dealings with the Attorney General Harry Daugherty (Christopher McDonald) and Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon (James Cromwell) ultimately tie in to the conflict with Gyp Rosetti, the narrative tends to get bogged down by the political maneuverings. While it certainly provides the requisite historical context to the setting, it also shows there’s much more enjoyment in the moments driven by character development.

Proving that point are the smaller arcs involving Van Alden and Harrow, who operate very much on the periphery of the primary story, but whose respective journeys also reflect and further personalize the series’ themes around temptation, corruption, and nobility. As the fourth season is underway, these themes will of course play out again regarding Nucky, but as the last few seasons have shown, it’s going to be just as compelling to see how the other characters survive the tumultuous era.

Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season includes the 12 episodes that originally aired on HBO between in 2012.
  • Resolution
  • Spaghetti and Coffee
  • Bone for Tuna
  • Blue Bell Boy
  • You’d Be Surprised
  • Ging Gang Goolie
  • Sunday Best
  • The Pony
  • The Milkmaid’s Lot
  • A Man, A Plan...
  • Two Impostors
  • Margate Sands



Video Rating: 4.5/5  3D Rating: NA

The 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer, framed at 1.78:1, features strong contrast and deep color, with a palette that tends toward the earthy and desaturated, with some spots of rich, nicely saturated color. Black levels are likewise uniformly inky. Detail and sharpness are also excellent, looking especially impressive in close-ups. Ringing along high contrast edges shows up more than I’d like, but for some it may be brief and infrequent enough to not distract.



Audio Rating: 4/5

Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently clear, detailed and intelligible. Surround activity tends to be on the more subtle side, providing nicely balanced environmental effects for scenes on the boardwalk and other public areas, as well as support for the score and music cues. LFE is infrequent given the nature of the show, but the consistent use of period music and spots of intense action exhibit great depth and fullness.



Special Features Rating: 4.5/5

The extras are back to form after the second season’s somewhat disappointing collection. Two sizable interactive compendiums, audio commentaries, and over an hour’s worth of featurettes covering the historical context and production process will keep viewers well occupied and entertained.

Audio Commentaries:
  • Episode 1: "Resolution" with Creator/Writer/Executive Producer Terence Winter, Director/Executive Producer Tim Van Patten, Steve Buscemi (Nucky Thompson), and Jack Huston (Richard Harrow)
  • Episode 5: "You’d Be Surprised" with Executive Producer/Writer Howard Korder, Michael Stuhlbarg (Arnold Rothstein), Bobby Canavale (Gyp Rosetti), and Stephen DeRosa (Eddie Cantor)
  • Episode 7: "Sunday Best" with Executive Producer/Writer Howard Korder, Director Allen Coulter, Shea Whigham (Eli Thompson), and Gretchen Mol (Gillian Darmody)
  • Episode 8: "The Pony" with Creator/Writer/Executive Producer Terence Winter, Michael Shannon (Nelson Van Alden), Charlie Cox (Owen Sleater), and Meg Chambers Steedle (Bille Kent)
  • Episode 11: "Two Impostors" with Executive Producer/Writer Howard Korder, Director Allen Coulter, Steve Buscemi (Nucky Thompson), and Michael Kenneth Williams (Chalky White)
  • Episode 12: "Margate Sands" with Creator/Writer/Executive Producer Terence Winter, Director/Executive Producer Tim Van Patten, Bobby Canavale (Gyp Rosetti), and Chris Caldovino (Tonino)
Boardwalk Chronicle: Interactive, picture-in-picture feature provides contextual history and information about characters and locations relative to the events in each episode.

American Empires: The vast, interactive compendium profiles Prohibition-era gangsters, their territories from the Midwest to East Coast, and major bootlegging operations across the country.

Newsreels (1:02:05, HD): Twenty-four featurettes (or two per episode) provide historical context to the season’s events.
  • Aviatrixes in the 1920s (3:24)
  • Howard Carter and Egyptology (2:27)
  • Cadre of Criminals - Gaston Means (3:33)
  • Vaudeville to Broadway (3:12)
  • The Rise of the Traveling Salesman (2:24)
  • Flappers Rising (2:59)
  • Prohibition Enforcement (2:30)
  • Margaret’s Cause (2:04)
  • Andrew Mellon (3:03)
  • Cadre of Criminals - Dean O’Banion (3:14)
  • Boy Scouts of America (2:17)
  • Tea Pot Politicians (2:09)
  • Eugene V. Debs (2:00)
  • Easter in Atlantic City (2:00)
  • Chicago in the 1920s (2:52)
  • The Union Club (1:38)
  • Home Brew (2:47)
  • The American Legion (1:47)
  • King Neptune (2:37)
  • Cadre of Criminals - Jess Smith (2:53)
  • Cadre of Criminals - “Lucky” Luciano (2:25)
  • Guns in the 1920s (2:51)
  • The Overholt Distillery (2:10)
  • Jack Dempsey vs. Luis Angel Firpo (2:37)
Boardwalk Empire - Director’s Chair (29:56, HD): Directors Tim Van Patten and Allen Coulter talk about how they approach their scripts, and break down specific scenes from several of the season’s episodes.

Scorsese on Season 3 (4:34, HD): Executive Producer Martin Scorsese offers some analysis of the season and comments on the characters and the actors playing them.

New Characters (4:57, HD): Introductions to Gyp Rosetti, Billie Kent, Gaston Means, Dean O’Banion, and Benny Siegel by the actors who play them and Executive Producer Terence Winter.

Distilling Season 2 (14:22, HD): Executive Producer Terence Winter provides a recap of the previous season.

DVD: The episodes presented in standard definition are spread across two double sided discs.

Digital Copy: Options available for Mac, Windows, and portable devices. Redeem by August 31, 2015.



Overall Rating: 4.5/5

HBO Home Entertainment delivers another fine high definition presentation and collection of extras for its riveting, Prohibition Era gangster drama starring Steve Buscemi. While the release at this point in the series will only appeal to existing fans, those who haven’t yet watched the show can take this as another in a long line of recommendations they should get watching.


Reviewed By: Cameron Yee


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#2 of 2 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted September 09 2013 - 02:39 PM

Boardwalk Chronicle: Interactive, picture-in-picture feature provides contextual history and information about characters and locations relative to the events in each episode.

Since there's a lot of characters on this show and I'm watching it over the course of years, this is a great feature to clarify the names and pasts of really minor characters. Case in point, I knew Nucky had a prohibition agent in his pocket going all the way back to the first season but thanks to this feature, I know his name is Sawicki and I didn't realize how much screen time Rosetti's second in command (Sandrelli) before looking at it.


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