L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

A view on Blu-ray and DVD video by Leonard Norwitz

Heroes Season Three [Blu-ray]

(Created & Exec Produced by Tim Kring , 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Studio:

Theatrical: NBC

Blu-ray: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: All

Runtime: approx

Chapters: 25

Size: 50 GB

Case: Expanded Gatefold Blu-ray Case w/ slipcover

Release date: September 1, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: AVC

 

Audio:

English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1

 

Subtitles:

English SDH, Spanish & French

 

Extras:

• U-Control: Audio/Video Commentaries for All Episodes with Various Cast & Crew.

• U-Control: Hero Connection Bios

• The Super Power of Heroes – in HD (8:01)

• Completing the Scene – – in HD (7:52)

• Genetics of a Scene – in HD (20:30)

• The Writer's Forum – in HD (13:24)

• The Prop Box – in HD (5:36)

• Tim Sale Gallery of Screen Art – in HD (1:14)

• Alternate Stories – in HD (46:20)

• Building Coyote Sands – in HD (10:46) [excl to Blu-ray]

• Deleted Scenes – in SD (ca. 21 min.)

• Pinehearst Commercial – in HD (00:39)

• Hero Connections Network

• D-Box Motion Enabled

• BD-Live, featuring a Sneak Peak at Season Four

 

 

The Film: 6
The first season of the series aired in 2006. It told of a number of seemingly unrelated persons across several countries coming to terms with their new extraordinary powers. Some of these people are hardly aware of their unique abilities and have rationalized strange incidents in ways that make sense to them in the natural world. Others are clear about what they can do, but feel awkward amongst their friends and family. Most all of them feel the need to keep their abilities secret.

There are others, however, who do not possess such gifts, but who seem to be more aware of our “heroes” and what they are capable of than they are themselves. Some of these people are organized – just how and to what purpose is unclear. One of them is Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman) the father of high school cheerleader Claire (Hayden Panetierre) who, as luck would have it, appears to be quite indestructible. Unhappily for her, but fortunately for the series, Claire is equally accident prone, which requires some fast talking to explain what witnesses believe they saw. This is not a person who can afford close friends.

Other "heroes" have quite different stories, but all are drawn to New York City, like Roy Neary to Devil's Tower, as they come to believe that an explosion that would level the city will soon be upon them, as foretold in a series of paintings. The season is about their efforts, together and separately, willingly and involuntarily, to prevent this catastrophe. Meanwhile “The Company” tries to extend their control over those who possess supernatural powers.

In the second season, The Company becomes interested in the Shanti Virus as a biological explanation for these powers. When a deadly strain of the virus gets out of control, the “heroes” come together to prevent another catastrophe.

The third season is in two "Volumes" – In the first, titled “Villains”, Nathan Petrelli (Adrian Pasdar) is at the center of the drama. At the start of the season we have forwarded several years into the future with an assassination attempt on Nathan’s life. How things came to such a pretty pass is what "Villains" is primarily concerned with. The title of the second Volume of the season, "Fugitives" (in the grand scheme of things it is known as "Volume 4") refers to the Heroes themselves as they once again try to avert another catastrophic situation involving those who would use and control them and their remarkable abilities. Featured guest stars include Robert Forster as Arthur Petrelli and Malcolm McDowell, reprising his first season role as Mr. Linderman.

 


 

Image: 7/8
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

I truly have to hand it sharper-eyed reviewers than I who can perceive what's what in the morass of post-processing filters and effects. Of course, that's part of the intention after all: to keep the eye/brain so busy with splash and dash that we don't notice what's going on behind the curtain. Heroes Season 3 is a particularly difficult case in point since it so frequently alternates the beautiful and natural with the ugly and unnatural. Never having watched this series in broadcast I couldn't begin to compare the Blu-ray with the original, but at least we can say that edge enhancement, the bane of the first series on DVD, and which persisted to a much lesser degree on BRD for the first two seasons, is even less evident here. I found no distracting artifacts – some noise here and there – but, as you know, I was busy elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 7/6
Surrounding generally well-articulated, if somewhat boxy dialogue, is a punchy, sometimes bass-heavy audio mix. I can't say it is a well-integrated audio mix as much as it is show-offy, spotlighting first this audio gesture, then that. On that score, the audio mix makes perfect sense since it complements the intention of the special effects. It is these effects, aural and optical, that comprise the drama in which the actors live – and since the script and story serves to push and pull us this way and that, so too the audio. Ditto, the unsubtle music score.
 

Operations: 6
The discs load promptly, eschewing promos and other diversions. The menu design is much the same as other Universal Blu-rays – my only complaint there is that "Chapters" really should say "Episodes" since that's what they are. Once inside the episode, another menu can be activated via the remote where "chapters" is now correct. Universal is continuing their line of thoughtless disc art, i.e., there isn't any. Pretty lame cover art for this season, too.

 

 

 

Extras: 8
Extra features abound for each disc. There are audio commentaries for all episodes that bring together at one point or another what appears to be the entire cast and crew. These can also be viewed as PIP in U-Control, but without additional supportive material, the idea of talking heads taking up much of the frame in PIP doesn't cut it for me. "Hero Connections Bios" appear as pop-ups in U-Control, whereas "Hero Connections Network" is accessed from the remote menu in the form of a bulletin board. The spider's web connections vary from disc to disc with the heroes' ever-changing relationships. Also on each disc are a number of deleted scenes in SD for some episodes and not others.

The remaining Extra Features spread over the five discs are routine, but worthwhile for fans. Among them: "The Superpowers of Heroes" extols the superpowers of Stunt Coordinator Tim Gilbert. "Completing the Scene" is an overview of the ever-changing CG visual style of the season. In "The Prop Box" Property Master James Clark talks about his job as quartermaster and lifeguard for the actors. "Building Coyote Sands" (a BD exclusive) reveals the complete building and shooting of the Coyote Sands Internment camp. "Tim Sale's Gallery of Screen Art" is all too brief. "Genetics of a Scene" describes the evolution of several scenes from script to final cut – worth seeing, this one.

The three Alternate Stories looked promising, but turned out for the most part to be amateur filmschool short stories, each centering on a non-Hero character with a special ability and how he or she doesn't fit into their particular circumstances. There are far too many interruptions for screen credits throughout their various lengths (18/10/& 18 min), but the last one, "Nowhere Man" has some redeeming qualities. The Writers' Forum is a sitdown with Creator Tim Kring and writers Adam Armus and Aron Eli Coleite as they uncritically discuss the seasons' thematic arcs and character development through "Villains" and "Fugitives". When they got to talking about "mythologies" and character changes they made along the way, I couldn't help feel that they had no idea where there show was going until they got there.

 

 

Bottom line: 8/5
Heroes has certainly developed a loyal fanbase over the years – and for them, a new season on high def video is a no-brainer (hmmm) . However, I know I am not alone in finding the notion of dynamic character and storyline development to have reached a point somewhere beyond its own universe.

Leonard Norwitz
August 31st, 2009

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.


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