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H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

House of Cards - Season Two  [4 Blu-rays]

 

(James Foley, David Fincher, Joel Schumacher, Jodie Foster, Robin Wright etc., 2014)

 

  

  

  

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Media Rights Capital

Video: Sony

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 13 episodes (av. 0:50:57.304 per episode)

Disc 1 Size: 46,674,673,282 bytes

Average Episode Size: 11,505,156,096 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.93 Mbps

Case: Custom Digipak Blu-ray case

Release date: June 17th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.0:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2177 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2177 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DUB:

Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, none

 

Extras:

50-second Recaps for each episode

Disc 1

Politics for the Sake of Politics (3:54): Politics is only the back drop, the themes are universal. What is the show about? It’s about relationships and power, not just politics.

Direct Address (5:39): Talks about the great device (breaking the 4th wall/Francis talking directly to the viewer) from original show and how they use it in the show.

Disc 2

Two Houses (10:46): A featurette on the difference between the original British show, the new show and a history of how the project came together.

Disc 3
Table Read (7:36): Behind the scenes of table reads cut together with the actual scenes from the show so you see how the scene changes. This is for episodes 12 & 13.

Disc 4
Line of Succession (17:53)

 

Episode Sample Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Masterful, beguiling and charismatic, Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his equally ambitious wife Claire (Robin Wright) continue their ruthless rise to power in Season 2 of '. Behind the curtain of power, sex, ambition, love, greed and corruption in modern Washington D.C. the Underwoods must battle threats past and present to avoid losing everything. As new alliances form and old ones succumb to deception and betrayal, they will stop at nothing to ensure their ascendancy.

 

Season 2
Chapter 14
S2, Ep1
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 14
Frank prepares for his promotion to Vice President. Doug tries to erase all leads leading back to him and Frank. Claire fights back against Gillian. Zoe considers working with Frank again.

Chapter 15
S2, Ep2
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 15
Frank is announced as Vice President. The US meets with China. Jackie faces obstacles as she plans to run for new whip. Lucas looks into Zoe's death.

Chapter 16
S2, Ep3
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 16
The tension between Francis and Raymond Tusk increases while the situation in China is getting worse. A fight in the Senate puts Francis against the republicans.

Chapter 17
S2, Ep4
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 17
A Terror threat traps Francis in the Congress building with a bitter Donald Blythe. Claire gives a live interview that shakes the media.

Chapter 18
S2, Ep5
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 18
Francis resort to informal negotiations with a Chinese billionaire. Lucas takes extreme measures in use to reveal the vice president. Team Underwood gets a new member.

Chapter 19
S2, Ep6
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 19
In the middle of an energy crisis, Francis and Tusk ends their fragile alliance. Lucas must make a difficult choice. Stamper gets closer to Rachel.

Chapter 20
S2, Ep7
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 20
Despite friction becomes the Walker family's friendship with the Underwood pair stronger. But there's a war between Francis and Tusk.

Chapter 21
S2, Ep8
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 21
The war with Tusk intensified. Claire influences Tricia Walker, both on the political and domestic front.

Chapter 22
S2, Ep9
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 22
It becomes personal when Tusk aback the Underwood pair with a scandal. Freddy and his restaurant will be involved in it all.

Chapter 23
S2, Ep10
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 23
With a military stalemate abroad and a possible violent situation at home. Francis want put an end to Tusk forever. Claire and Jackie Sharp collide.

Chapter 24
S2, Ep11
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 24
Frank is questioned by a special prosecutor. Remy Danton is trying to keep all options open. Stamper is struggling with his demons.

Chapter 25
S2, Ep12
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 25
Francis feels shut out. Stamper tries to regain control.

Chapter 26
S2, Ep13
14 Feb. 2014
Chapter 26
Francis is about to be destroyed while the nation is in turmoil. Stamper must pick up loose ends. Claire marks the conclusion of her ruthlessness.

Excerpt from IMDb located HERE

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

Sony's Blu-ray package of the highly lauded series House of Cards is as clean and crisp as you might imagine from a new HD-broadcast series. The 13 X 50-minute episodes are housed on four Blu-rays. 4 episodes on the first disc and three each on the remaining - with supplements on each disc.  The original aspect ratio of 2.0:1 is supported. This is transferred on dual-layered discs with reasonable bitrates for the feature content per Blu-ray. There are plenty of dark scenes in House of Cards (dark topics) but the bitrate is supportive and I saw no noise or compression artifacts. The brighter the scenes the more depth - which is common. Detail is strong, visuals, especially close-ups, are crisp. It is quite flawless and in 1080P.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Excellent audio quality with a supportive and tight DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 2177 kbps. Any action, and it's not abundant although there are effect sounds that jump to the rear speakers. Jeff Beal's score floats in and out through scene changes. Everything sounds pristine in lossless and there is depth in the score's drums. There is a French language DUBs and some subtitle options signifying the three discs as being region FREE - playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

Extras :

Firstly, there are 50-second recaps for each episode, and on disc 1, we get the 4-minute long Politics for the Sake of Politics which details some of the shows themes beyond politics - namely relationships and power. Direct Address runs 5.5 minutes and discusses when Francis talking directly to the viewer, breaking the 4th wall - kind of narrating for a short period and how this technique was used in the original British show. On disc 2, the 11-minute featurette, Two Houses focuses more on the difference between the original British show, the new show and a history of how the project came together. Disc 3's supplement is a 7.5 minute Table Read cut together with the actual scenes from episodes 12 and 13 (split-screen) so you see how the scene changes. Disc 4 has the 18-minute piece entitled 'Line of Succession' with a lot of input from director James Foley on the production details.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
House of Cards is another very strong TV series. I got wrapped up in Season One, then watched the British version (not as good, IMO) and rifled through Season Two on Blu-ray. Perhaps not at the high level of the first season, but still excellent viewing. And look at the directors! We lose some, interesting, characters, add a whole bunch more. There are some awful personas in House of Cards - and the moral implications are as well thought-out as the political nuances. This has a lot of value - absolutely recommended!  

Gary Tooze

June 13th, 2014

  

  

  


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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