Arrow – Season 2 (Bluray)

I am, and always have been, an unabashed fan of comic books. While not as ‘geeky’ as I used to be insofar as collecting them, I still read with fervor when given the chance. For some reason I was always also a bigger fan of some of the ‘lesser’ superheroes as opposed to the big stars. Green Arrow was a huge favorite of mine, in part because of his similarities with Batman, but also because his character was always written as so darn cool – addictions and bad relationships aside. Oliver Queen was simply awesome.

Over the years I’ve seen versions of Green Arrow, both bad and good. Initially I did not like Justin Hartley’s take on “Smallville”, but grew to enjoy his performance over time. When I heard that the WB was going to create a new series based on the character I was actually looking forward to the seeing Hartley take on the role again… until I learned that this was not the case. It turned out that “Arrow” was a whole new version of the hero… and I was hesitant.

Settling in to watch the first couple of episodes of the new series, I was both exhilarated and somewhat taken aback. New to the role was actor Stephen Amell, whom physically I thought was not really the Oliver Queen I always imagined, BUT I put that aside to enjoy the flashy action sequences which were well produced. I was satisfied immediately with the version of his origin as it unfolded over the course of the season (thanks to the magic of flashbacks), but it took several episodes for me to finally accept Amell as one of my favorite comic heroes. Once I got past that hump, I began to enjoy the series more and more as the season continued.

This brought me to the point where I was actually excited to see Season Two (which just released on Blu-ray this week). Spoilers kept in check; I will only say that the death of his best friend and the destruction wrought on the poorer sections of Star City at the end of Season One have taken their toll on everyone. Oliver’s self-imposed guilt over the death and disaster is carried on throughout most of this season – which can be a bit tiring – but it does give for some decent drama. More of Green Arrow’s arch enemies begin to pop up this season, as well as a cool introduction of another superhero favorite of mine, just in time for his own WB series.

Season Two also bring with it a new story arc rife with political and corporate bargaining, bringing the Queen family ever closer to public and financial ruin. The season also continues to juxtapose the current events with flashback sequences that give us even more insight into the five years Oliver spent shipwrecked on the island that gave birth to his nighttime identity. It’s nicely done, and I have to give props to the editors and writers for telling the back story coherently as it plays out in between the events of today.

The Blu-ray release of “Arrow” Season Two is certainly worth owning if you’re at all a fan. We’ve often been able to purchase combo packs that include both Blu-ray and DVD discs of our favorite movies, but only recently have I seen this with TV Series. This is the case here, as consumers get both in one package. It’s a nice touch, whether always necessary or not.

All Season Two episodes are present here as well as a handful of special features. There is footage of the 2013 Arrow Comic-Con Panel which included stars Amell, Colton Haynes. Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey along with the show’s executive producers. This is a nice feature for those of us who can’t make it to San Diego to see it in person. “From Vigilante to Hero” offers the producers and several of the actors to talk about Oliver’s character and how his vigilante persona transforms over the course of the series. In “How Did They Do That?”, visual effects supervisor Mike Kirylo and compositor Andrew Bardesk discuss their work on the series. “Wirework” delves deeper into the stunt coordination gives a little background on what goes into some of the amazing fight sequences. Thankfully, there is a gag reel (always a favorite part pf any release) and 19 deleted scenes).

In terms of audio and video delivery, I’m hard-pressed to come up with any sets that are better than this one. The sound mix is nearly perfect as it balances the dialogue with ambient sounds and music. There is a clear separation of each, though together they offer a significant immersive experience. Visually, the series is stunning and the Blu-ray discs offer picture rich with color, even in the many scenes that are dark.

“Arrow” is not a perfect translation of Green Arrow, oftentimes there is a little too much soap opera drama for me. But when this happens, I try to remind myself of how the character in the comics was often hit with some similar moments, especially in his relationship with Dinah Lance/Black Canary. I think this second season is a stronger entry and I look forward to what the third season will bring.

City of Heroes
Broken Dolls
League of Assassins
Keep Your Enemies Closer
State V. Queen
The Scientist
Three Ghosts
Blast Radius
Blind Spot
Heir to the Demon
Time of Death
The Promise
Suicide Squad
Birds of Prey
The Man Under the Hood
Seeing Red
City of Blood
Streets of Fire

Starring: Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Susanna Thompson, Paul Blackthorne, Emily Bett Rickards, Colton Haynes, Manu Bennett, John Barrowman
Extras: 2013 Arrow Comic-Con Panel; From Vigilante to Hero; How Did They Do That?; Wirework; Gag Reel; Deleted Scenes
Video: MPEG-4 AVC; 180p; Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: 9/16/2014

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