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

Sons of Anarchy Season Two [Blu-ray]

 

(Created, Produced & Written by Kurt Sutter, 2009)

 

 

 

 

 

Review by Leonard Norwitz

 

Production:

Theatrical: FX Network & Fox 21

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

 

Disc:

Region: FREE!

Runtime: approx. 583 minutes

Disc One Size: 48,719,279,966 bytes

Sample Episode Size: 9,022,881,792 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.67 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Amaray Blu-ray Case w/ flip-page & slipcase

Release date: August 31st, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080P / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4087 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4087 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish & French, and None

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary on 3 Episodes by Kurt Sutter & Cast

• The Moral Code of Sons of Anarchy – in HD (10:33)

• A Night Out with the Crew at the Happy Endings Bar – in HD (40:29)

• 16 Deleted Scenes – in HD (40:08)

• Gag Reel – in HD (3:57)

• Trailers

 

Description: Right on schedule, Fox is set to release the explosive second season of Kurt Sutter’s Sons of Anarchy on August 31. The three-disc Blu-ray set is formatted much as the first season, with most of the episodes spread over the first two discs, together with a small handful of commentaries, and the final two episodes on disc three, along with a portfolio of bonus features.

 

 

The Film: 8
Season One
(Reviewed HERE) followed several threads that would become significant as Season Two gets under way: Jax (Charlie Hunnam) read his long deceased father’s journal that questioned the club’s present direction. Jax is committed to SAMCRO (Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Originals, aka: Sam Crow) but not entirely to what it has become. Jax’s mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal), long married to Clay - who, like Jax’s father, was a founding member of the club - and seriously protective of the club, finds a coy of the journal at the end of the season.

Crossing the line is not new to the club, and by the end of the first season, Jax blows away a rogue FBI agent who had been stalking his girlfriend, Tara (Maggie Siff); and Donna, Opie’s wife, is shot by mistake after Clay (Ron Perlman) decided that Opie (Ryan Hurst) was an ATF informant and ordered Tig (Kim Coates) to take him out. The ATF had figured prominently in the first season as relentless Agent Stahl (Ally Walker), unable to get hard evidence against Sam Crow, manipulated events to raise suspicions within the club, thus the Opie and Donna fiasco.

As Season Two of “Hamlet on Bikes” opens, Jax, certain of Clay’s complicity in Donna’s death, becomes more openly, if indirectly, oppositional to Clay’s command, which divides the club. Opie returns to Charming after several weeks of alone-time. He had always been on the fringe vis--vis the club, and now he wants retribution before he can move on – to where may not be clear even to him. Clay fingers a member of one of the two main gangs they run guns to as Donna’s killer and sends Opie and friends to exact payment. Unwilling to take his stepfather on directly Jax manipulates the evidence of the killing in such a way that a gang war, with Sam Crow in the middle of it, seems inevitable.

The ATF is still watchful, but this doesn’t stop the IRA from ratcheting up their demands for more weapons, which, if fulfilled, would only make bad matters worse between two of Sam Crow’s best customers, the feuding black 9‘ers and brown Mayans. And they aren’t the only source of new trouble: a new force of nature arrives in Charming in the person of Ethan Zobelle (Adam Arkin), whose business suit thinly disguises his mission as an ethnic cleansing white separatist. He and his neo-Nazi henchman are determined to rid Charming of its racially impure elements, and put the screws on Sam Crow to stop selling guns so that the undesirables will move on.

Clay, not the sort of fellow that takes kindly to being dictated to, rejects Zobelle’s offer, who, in turn, raises the ante by arranging a gang rape for Clay’s wife. Gemma, bruised and battered, is no fool and sees that she was merely being used to get at Clay. She reluctantly enlists the aid of Police Chief Unser (Dayton Callie) and Tara, Gemma’s erstwhile opponent for her son’s loyalties, to hide the truth from Clay while her unspoken rage seems set to off like a loaded gun.

In a somewhat lighter vein, partly as a means to improve cash flow, partly as a means to bolster ratings, the club decides to get into the porn film business. All of these threads are laid out by the end of the second episode, and where they lead you shall discover for yourself - unless you already know, and can’t wait to see it all again in outstanding high-definition.

 


 

Image: 8/9 NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
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.

Image quality is similar to and if anything, denser, than we saw for season one. Overall, there is a naturalistic approach to the photography, so contrast, and color takes its lead from the scene, lending a spontaneous impression to events. Shot in HD video, there is little grain or noise to the image, except for some night shots. Fabric textures, especially the ubiquitous leather jackets, are especially well rendered; facial texture, too, is faithful to the original. As common with HD-video photography, severe backlighting tends to wash out detail, but this doesn’t occur often, and, in any case, isn’t the fault of the transfer. I spotted no artifacts (expect for a little chroma noise in some of the night scenes scenes), enhancements, DNR or damage. An excellent transfer that doesn’t call attention to itself.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: 8/9
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.

Image quality is similar to and if anything, denser, than we saw for season one. Overall, there is a naturalistic approach to the photography, so contrast, and color takes its lead from the scene, lending a spontaneous impression to events. Shot in HD video, there is little grain or noise to the image, except for some night shots. Fabric textures, especially the ubiquitous leather jackets, are especially well rendered; facial texture, too, is faithful to the original. As common with HD-video photography, severe backlighting tends to wash out detail, but this doesn’t occur often, and, in any case, isn’t the fault of the transfer. I spotted no artifacts (expect for a little chroma noise in some of the night scenes scenes), enhancements, DNR or damage. An excellent transfer that doesn’t call attention to itself.

 

Operations: 8/9
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.

Image quality is similar to and if anything, denser, than we saw for season one. Overall, there is a naturalistic approach to the photography, so contrast, and color takes its lead from the scene, lending a spontaneous impression to events. Shot in HD video, there is little grain or noise to the image, except for some night shots. Fabric textures, especially the ubiquitous leather jackets, are especially well rendered; facial texture, too, is faithful to the original. As common with HD-video photography, severe backlighting tends to wash out detail, but this doesn’t occur often, and, in any case, isn’t the fault of the transfer. I spotted no artifacts (expect for a little chroma noise in some of the night scenes scenes), enhancements, DNR or damage. An excellent transfer that doesn’t call attention to itself.

 

 

Extras: 7
Last season’s Blu-ray
(Reviewed HERE) sported an audio commentary with nine participants. Continuing in this vein, the final episode of the new season offers its commentary in both picture-in-picture or audio only mode. The PIP helps identify its huge number of panelists. Altogether only three episodes receive commentaries, each with a different group of commentators.

There are two main featurettes: in the first, The Morals of Sons of Anarchy, series creator Kurt Sutter talks about how he researched motorcycle clubs and what he learned about their charters and operations. The forty-minute meeting at the Happy Endings Bar employs a novel approach: Kurt had asked fans to ask questions about the show on his Facebook page, He culled some thirty-odd questions from the thousands that turned up and passed them around for his eleven member cast to respond to.

All of the Extra Features - Gag Reel and Deleted Scenes included - are presented in high definition.

 

 

Bottom line: 8
It may have taken three or four episodes in the first season to get things under way, but in season two, Kurt Sutter hits the ground running and keeps up the pace right to end. The high definition treatment is deserved but never feels like high resolution for the sake of showing itself off. A solid recommendation.

Leonard Norwitz
September 1st, 2001

 

 

 

 

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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