Monday, August 21, 2017

HBO DVD and Blu-ray

Featured HBO DVD and BluRay:

True Blood: The Complete Second Season (HBO Series) [Blu-ray]

Welcome back to Bon Temps, home to mystery, Southern sensuality and dark secrets. For Sookie Stackhouse, life is more dangerous than ever after she and Bill become more deeply involved. Meanwhile, Tara finds herself under a lover’s spell; Sam puts his trust in an unlikely ally; Jason becomes involved with an anti-vampire sect; Eric becomes interested in Sookie after he recruits her to investigate the disappearance of his 2,000-year-old maker; and Maryann is revealed to possess a power that can control almost everyone in town. Then, after making a shocking discovery, Sookie, Bill and Sam must form the last line of defense against a diabolical plan that raises this award-winning series to bloody new heights.

True Blood: The Complete Second Season includes all 12 episodes of this critically acclaimed series from Alan Ball, writer of the Academy Award®-winning Best Picture American Beauty and creator of Six Feet Under. Loaded with special features, this essential 5-disc set is certain to quench the curiosity of True Blood fans everywhere.Stills from True Blood: The Complete Second Season (click for larger image)

Rating: (out of 99 reviews)

List Price: $ 79.98
Price: $ 49.99

True Blood: The Complete Second Season (HBO Series) [Blu-ray] Reviews

Review by CoffeeGurl:
I have been a major Sookie Stackhouse fan for years. I began reading Charlaine Harris’s series, then called the Southern Vampire Mysteries, since before book four came out, and have read them all in order. I was puzzled when I found out that HBO was going to make a TV adaptation of it. Why this particular series? Why not Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series? (It would have been suitable, what with all of the sex and all.) There were others as well, like Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld and MaryJanice Davidson’s Queen Betsy series — all of which have the erotic tones that HBO would have loved. So why this book series? Now I know why, but more on that later.

I very much enjoyed season one. It was very faithful to Dead Until Dark, except that small characters like Tara and Lafayette were expanded, and you get everyone’s point of view, not just Sookie’s. Also, Bill has more depth here, and you see things from his point of view, and you understand him better. Other storylines were added, like the emphasis on “V” addiction, which makes sense. Season two has taken things to a whole other level and I love it so far. I can’t wait for the blu-ray release! From the very beginning, the show has very sexually explicit scenes, most of which centered on Jason’s exploits, and some violence as well, with a great deal of emphasis to vampire hatred as the new form of southern racism/segregation. Season two takes things further, with gore and horror replacing the sex (there’s still plenty of it though), and the fledging out of characters like Eric, Tara and Lafayette (whose death does not happen in the TV series). MaryAnn is the mysterious creature that makes a brief appearance in Living Dead in Dallas, but is expanded on the TV version to the point that she almost takes over the entire show. Jessica, Bill’s “daughter,” puzzled me at first. What’s the purpose to this character? But I like her now, especially after Hoyt becomes her love interest. And I love the emphasis on vampire makers, like Lorena and Godric, the latter of whom moved me almost to tears in the last episode that he’s in (plus, the actor who plays him is totally hot). I don’t want to ruin it for people who don’t have HBO and have to wait for the DVD or blu-ray release, but, in spite of the departures from the books, it’s better than season one.

The actors are great. Ann Paquin has grown on me as Sookie, British hottie Stephen Moyer is wonderful as Bill, and I finally like Alexander Skarsgard as everyone’s favorite vampire bad boy Eric. I am also enjoying Sam Trammel (Sam Merlotte), Rutina Wesley (Tara), Nelsan Ellis (Lafayette), Michelle Forbes (MaryAnn Forester) and Ryan Kwatten (Jason Stackhouse). I am also enjoying the actors who play Andy Belleflour and Hoyt for the comic relief they supply. (Andy is hilarious as the drunken out-of-work cop who witnesses the orgies and general odd behavior and no one believes him.) All in all, if you’re a big fan of the books, then you won’t want to miss this show. No boring moments throughout the hour-long series. I cannot wait for season three and season two is not even over yet! And I see why HBO decided to adapt this particular book series. They must’ve seen the potential for character development and the southern setting on the small screen. Great job!

Review by Kristin D.:
I started reading this series when book 1 just came out. What can I say, I like vampire books. I really liked Season 1 on HBO. The deviation the show took that bothers me is that Bill killed Longshadow, not Eric, because that could really become problematic later on.

Bill seems to be becoming one dimensional on HBO, he is nearing sainthood. Why would Sookie ever dump him, or date any of the many people she later dates in the books if he is a saint???

In the books, you eventually see that Bill really has less human feelings/emotions than Eric and other love interests of Sookie. ‘Book Bill’ is too self-absorbed to even notice Sookie’s problems a total change from HBO’s ‘Saint Bill’.

When Eric got to save Sookie in Book 1 she warmed up to him, which gives an opening for a romantic change for Sookie—-makes sense, especially when your “love (Bill)” just stands there and is ready to let you die. Also, when someone you love just keeps lying and keeping secrets, like ‘Book Bill’ you eventually say (even if you love them) enough is enough time to move on–and GEE maybe he is not ‘the one’.

The way the HBO series is unfolding if Sookie leaves Bill and goes to Eric or anyone else she might just seem like a […]_itch. If she just stays w/ Bill the whole series, then it will probably get boring—or completely deviate from the books storylines, as most of the story lines have a connection to Sookie’s love interests at the time. Either way making Bill a saint, in the long run, will not help the series.

The subplots are fine—but it would be nice for them to stay SUBPLOTS and not overpower the show like this season.

Long and Short—- Yes, I have preordered season 2–would have preferred less subplots and less of ‘Saint Bill’. One of the best books in the series (and one that has an impact on the rest of the book series) is coming up. It involves Eric losing his memory. I just hope that HBO can get over the total ‘Saint Bill’ thing before that books plot line is covered, and follow a great story from a great writer, so that the rest of the main plot lines from the books can be used.

Buy True Blood: The Complete Second Season (HBO Series) [Blu-ray] now for only $ 49.99!

Band of Brothers [Blu-ray]

Based on the bestseller by Stephen E. Ambrose, the epic 10-part miniseries Band of Brothers tells the story of Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army. Drawn from interviews with survivors of Easy Company, as well as soldiers’ journals and letters, Band of Brothers chronicles the experiences of these men who knew extraordinary bravery and extraordinary fear. They were an elite rifle company parachuting into France early on D-Day morning, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and capturing Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden. They were also a unit that suffered 150 percent casualties, and whose lives became legend.An impressively rigorous, unsentimental, and harrowing look at combat during World War II, Band of Brothers follows a company of airborne infantry–Easy Company–from boot camp through the end of the war. The brutality of training takes the audience by increments to the even greater brutality of the war; Easy Company took part in some of the most difficult battles, including the D-Day invasion of Normandy, the failed invasion of Holland, and the Battle of the Bulge, as well as the liberation of a concentration camp and the capture of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. But what makes these episodes work is not their historical sweep but their emphasis on riveting details (such as the rattle of a plane as the paratroopers wait to leap, or a flower in the buttonhole of a German soldier) and procedures (from military tactics to the workings of bureaucratic hierarchies). The scope of this miniseries (10 episodes, plus an actual documentary filled with interviews with surviving veterans) allows not only a thoroughness impossible in a two-hour movie, but also captures the wide range of responses to the stress and trauma of war–fear, cynicism, cruelty, compassion, and all-encompassing confusion. The result is a realism that makes

  • Based on the bestseller by Stephen E. Ambrose, the epic 10-part miniseries Band of Brothers tells the story of Easy Company, 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army. Drawn from interviews with survivors of Easy Company, as well as soldiers’ journals and letters, Band of Brothers chronicles the experiences of these men who knew extraordinary bravery and extraordinary fear. They wer

Rating: (out of 275 reviews)

List Price: $ 99.98
Price: $ 47.99

Band of Brothers [Blu-ray] Reviews

Review by D. Stone:
I have to say that this series blew me away. I was so impressed with the effort put into Saving Private Ryan to give it a documentary look and feel. Band Of Brothers falls from the same tree. Once again, Hanks and Spielberg reunite to produce this epic cable series of WW2 as told by the men themselves. Every episode has interviews from the soldiers who were there. Very realistic and emotional stuff.

First off, the set comes in a metal box with fold out style disk holders. Exactly like the standard dvd edtion a few years ago.

The Blu-Ray edition has 6 disks total. 2 episodes per disk on the first 5 with many, many extras on number 6.

The quality of the picture is perfect. These films were shot with tons of natural grain for that documentary style look. The lenses also give the look of a 40’s camera used in the field. Although the film itself is washed out and very rough, it has awesome detail. You will notice so many things going on in the background. The size of the shots sometimes leave you in awe. The blacks are sometimes unstable, but that is the intent. The daytime scenes are beautiful in their full scope. The greatest thing about this series is the uncompromising attention to detail. From the uniforms to the weapons. The skintones are spot on and very nice looking with great detail. The majority of these episodes were shot outdoors. So, the landscapes look fantastic! From the coast of France, to the mountains of Austria, this has some amazing and beautiful scenery. While the picture may be ” washed out “, it looks and feels just as you would expect from the point of view from a combat photographer. The battle scenes are simply unbelievable. It takes you to a new level realism.

The sound is second to none. You will easily be blown away with the audio track quality. You have to turn down the volume at many points during battle scenes. The voices are crisp and clean, but the battle scenes really rock your sound system. All of your speakers get a good workout. The subwoofer really hammers out the explosions. The rear speakers have tons of gunfire from all directions, as do the side speakers. You will have a true surround sound experience. Many movies do not make full use of the full audio possibilities. This one does!

There are great extras here as well. Great in depth interviews from the soldiers themselves. A really cool making of documentary called ” We stand together: The men of easy company ” And many other things for the history buff. Cant say enough about this product. If you are a war genre lover, this is one of the best. If you love history, and dont want a watered down, made for Hollywood war film. This is how it happened as told by the men of the 506th E Co. You will have a new respect for these guys who gave so much. It is hard to believe that some people could give so much for so little. Thank god they did.

Review by Hassan B. Bn Hadhram:
First of all let me just say that i have never seen Band of brothers before so I’m not a blind fanboy or anything like that , and because I’m not an american so i thought this mini series is not going to be interesting to me , However this mini series is highly praised everywhere and it have 9.6 score on IMDB plus it won the Golden Globe award and Emmy as the BEST series made for TV , so i said to myself lets give it try

So far i have seen only 5 episodes on the BLU-RAY and i have to say that the picture quality is insanely good i own over 30 Blu ray movies and series like Planet Earth, Band of brothers picture quality beat every movie i have ever seen ,yes even Disney Blu rays like pirates, the colors is perfect and its crystal clear, its just UNREAL how good its, i was really surprised i didn’t expect TV series picture quality to beat Movies picture quality (Its simply the Best picture quality so far on blu ray to me, but sometimes picture quality jump from crystal clear to “extremely” Grainy on some parts which is intended i believe) reviewed the series today also and gave the picture quality 5/5 and everything else 5/5 kinda XD

I have only seen 5 episodes so far! and i don’t want it to end ;( that’s why i’m watching it slowly, to be honest i have always hated and avoided World war Movies because to me they are boring as hell, i have heard the story god damn million time in books/video games and Hollywood movies even school books and most of the times each version of the movie is different so you don’t know which version is real or accurate about what happened in the world war 2 because a lot of movie directors change events and make them different to sell tickets, but with band of brothers the men who went to the war speaks to you and tell you there REAL story “there is picture in picture mode where you can watch the movie and small screen like 1/4 of the TV pop and the Real people who was at the event speaks and its optional”

Band of brothers is a masterpiece its Story,Characters,Script, Events,Sound is too good plus its very emotional story…. i don’t know where to start about this series it just blow my mind from its goodness

I hope this review was helpful to you

Buy Band of Brothers [Blu-ray] now for only $ 47.99!

Rome: The Complete Series [Blu-ray]

Four hundred years after the founding of the Republic, Rome is the wealthiest city in the world, a cosmopolitan metropolis of one million people, epicenter of a sprawling empire. But now, the city’s foundations are crumbling, eaten away by corruption and excess…And two soldiers unwittingly become entwined in historical events, their fates inexorably tied to the fate of Rome itself. The entire award-winning, critically-acclaimed series will be available as a Blu-ray gift set, just in time for the holiday season.Family dysfunction. Treachery. Betrayal. Coarse profanity. Brutal violence. Graphic (and sometimes brutal) sex. No, it’s not The Sopranos, it’s Rome, HBO’s madly ambitious series that transfixed viewers with its lavishly mounted spectacle and human dramas of the historical figures and fictional characters. Set in 52 B.C., Rome charts the dramatic shifts in the balance of power between former friends Pompey Magnus (Kenneth Cranham), leader of the Senate, and Julius Caesar (Ciaran Hinds), whose imminent return after eight years to Rome after conquering the Gauls, has the ruling class up in arms. At the heart of Rome is the odd couple friendship between two soldiers who fortuitously become heroes of the people. Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) is married, honorable, and steadfast. Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson) is an amoral rogue whose philosophy is best summed up, “I kill my enemies, take their gold, and enjoy their women.” Among Rome’s most compelling subplots is Lucius’s strained relationship with his wife, Niobe (Indira Varma), who is surprised to see her husband alive (but not as surprised as he is to find her upon his homecoming with a newborn baby in her arms!). Any viewer befuddlement over Rome’s intrigues and machinations, and determining who is hero and who is foe, disappears the minute Golden Globe-nominee Polly Walker appears as Atia, Caesar’s formidable niece and a villainess

Rating: (out of 78 reviews)

List Price: $ 139.99
Price: $ 79.50

Rome: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] Reviews

Review by D. J. Nardi:
When I was younger, I used to love watching movies like Spartacus, not so much because they provided particularly great depictions of ancient Rome, but because they were the way anybody get any sense of the grandeur of the Roman empire. In fact, looking back, those films were often quite cheesy. Hollywood stopped making movies about ancient Rome for a long while, until Gladiator came out in 2000. As a movie, Gladiator was awesome and showed a vastly more realistic yet grander Rome than ever before seen in Hollywood. Yet, as history, the movie had its flaws (most notably that it distorted the historical record quite bit). However, I’d despaired that it would be the pinnacle of our ability to visualize Rome.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that HBO did an excellent job at recreating the ancient Roman empire in its miniseries Rome. At first, I was suspicious, worried that Rome would become twisted by HBO, the same creators of Sex and the City. Yet, the series is awesome. In terms of the production quality, it looks and feels like a big budget movie (indeed, the cost of the series eventually doomed it). The acting, visual effects, and soundtrack are exceptional (be sure to get Jeff Beal’s soundtrack Rome: Music from the HBO Series).

HBO also took care to portray Rome in a somewhat historically accurate fashion. HBO hired expert historians and consultants for every detail. Unlike most movies about ancient Rome, HBO did not shy away from portraying the less glamorous sides of Rome. In fact, much of the series deals with everyday citizens, from prostitutes to roving gangs. This in turn means that the series includes a lot of explicit sex and violence. While this means the series isn’t appropriate for kids or the faint of heart, it does mean that Rome shows Rome as it actually was.

One thing I love about this series is that it deals with the last years of the Roman Republic, one of the most compelling eras in history. Most movies and TV shows shy away from historically important events, but HBO tackles it with gusto. The show manages to remain historically accurate while using actual historical to provide the drama in the show. HBO did a great job finding actors to portray Julius Caesar, Pompey, Mark Antony, Cato, and the rest of the dramatis personae (although I wasn’t as pleased with their choices for the Augustus side of the family – see below). At times, you almost feel like you traveled back in a time machine to witness these epic events. If you’re interested in this period, I’d recommend Tom Holland’s Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic for more depth on events during the period. I only wish the series had been longer rather than only two seasons – it would have great to have seen the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest in 9 AD, or the end of Augustus’ reign. However, apparently the budget for the show grew so large that HBO (foolishly) decided to cancel it.

My only criticism of the show is the portrayal of Augustus and his mother, Atia (Polly Walker). Historians don’t necessarily have accurate information on the personalities of these figures, and there probably isn’t a “definitive” interpretation of their lives. Still, I thought the show took a few too many liberties. While Atia in real life was probably cunning and ambitious, Polly Walker’s version of Atia makes her into a psychotic and sadistic woman. In one scene, she even has a torture room and tortures Servilla. There’s no historical basis for any of that, and it does seem a bit outlandish. For his part, Augustus as played by Simon Woods seemed a bit too dull and cynical. Again, while I’m sure Augustus must have had excellent political acumen to rise so high, he was also a brilliant administrator and did have a vision for Rome. I just didn’t think HBO’s depiction of either character stood up well or resembled what I had read in Anthony Everitt’s excellent Augustus: The Life of Rome’s First Emperor.

A quick note about the DVDs themselves. They are excellent quality and include hours of bonus materials, including deleted scenes and “making of” featurettes. I found some of the commentary about the interpretation of the characters pretty interesting. IF you or anybody you know loves ancient Roman history, Rome should definitely be on your Christmas list.

Review by Tim Lasiuta:

To paraphrase the United States recording industry mega hit, Superlatives are not enough.

Roman history, while always fascinating, has always seemed cool and static in North America. HBO, in “Rome”, has breathed life into well documented time period. Those who not historically minded, will merely see this as a very well produced HBO drama. Being hstorically minded, I am thrilled that this period of history can see life.

In two seasons, viewers across North America thrilled to the power struggles within the Roman senate played out in venues from Gaul to Rome. Caesar and his men, in battle and out, realized that the power of plebian popularity. The death of Pompeys’ wife, Julia, leads to a struggle for wifery, and eventually his death. The power play between Mark Anthony, Casesar, Vorenus, Pompey, Cato, and Brutus is fascinating. Social standing is valued, to the extent of sacrificing personal happiness. Integrity is merely the price of success. Ambition is the currency of Senate success.

The episodes included in the set are:

Stolen Eagle

How Titus Pullo brought down the republic

An Owl in A Thornbush

The Ram Has Touched the Wall



Utica Triumph

The Spoils

Kallends of February


Son of Hades

These Being the Words

Tortoise and the Hare



Death Mask

Necessary Fiction

No God Can Stop A Hungry Man

About Your Father

Dramatically speaking, this is a stellar production with outstanding performances. In reading about Rome, I was fascinated that full size sets were constructed for the series accurate to the period. Full scale models of actual artifacts were used in the production, and that is ambitious. I can imagine that once season 2 was finished, a museum is now well stocked, and even a Roman style theme park is now fully functional.

The bonus features just add more integrity to the series that was overdue, and will be missed.

I cannot say enough about this series. It is unfortunate that more episodes were not produced, but I can imagine that the production cost was prohibitive. Perhaps a Medici period drama might be next…

Tim Lasiuta

Hail Caesar

Buy Rome: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] now for only $ 79.50!

John Adams [Blu-ray]

John Adams is a sprawling HBO miniseries event that depicts the extraordinary life and times of one of Americas least understood, and most underestimated, founding fathers: the second President of the United States, John Adams. Starring Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Cinderella Man, HBOs American Spendor) in the title role and Laura Linney (You Can Count on Me, Kinsey) as Adams devoted wife Abigail, John Adams chronicles the extraordinary life journey of one of the primary shapers of our independence and government, whose legacy has often been eclipsed by more flamboyant contemporaries like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin. Set against the backdrop of a nations stormy birth, this sweeping miniseries is a moving love story, a gripping narrative, and a fascinating study of human nature. Above all, at a time when the nation is increasingly polarized politically, this story celebrates the shared values of liberty and freedom upon which this country was built.Based on David McCullough’s bestselling biography, the HBO miniseries John Adams is the furthest thing from a starry-eyed look at America’s founding fathers and the brutal path to independence. Adams (Paul Giamatti), second president of the United States, is portrayed as a skilled orator and principled attorney whose preference for justice over anti-English passions earns enemies. But he also gains the esteem of the first national government of the United States, i.e., the Continental Congress, which seeks non-firebrands capable of making a reasoned if powerful case for America’s break from England’s monarchy. The first thing one notices about John Adams’ dramatizations of congress’ proceedings, and the fervent pro-independence violence in the streets of Boston and elsewhere, is that America’s roots don’t look pretty or idealized here. Some horrendous things happen in the name of protest, driving Adams to push the cause of independence in a legitimate

  • John Adams is a sprawling HBO miniseries event that depicts the extraordinary life and times of one of Americas least understood, and most underestimated, founding fathers: the second President of the United States, John Adams. Starring Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Cinderella Man, HBOs American Spendor) in the title role and Laura Linney (You Can Count on Me, Kinsey) as Adams devoted wife Abigail, Joh

Rating: (out of 723 reviews)

List Price: $ 79.98
Price: $ 32.25

John Adams [Blu-ray] Reviews

Review by !Edwin C. Pauzer:
Each night I turned on the HBO feature anxious to see a good dramatic series, and learn about my country’s struggle for life through one its most underrated founding fathers, John Adams.

Paul Giamatti’s performance in the title role is much in dispute as he, like many other actors, seems to play himself as much as his character. He turns from a loving father to the lawyer and representative who sometimes looks apoplectic rather than just an angry or fiery patriot. Much to his credit, I felt the John Adams of later years on subsequent episodes was extremely well-acted.

Abigail Adams is played by Laura Linney, and her performance is superb and not the least in dispute. From the first moment, she is thoroughly credible as the vivacious lover, friend, confidante, advisor, and wife of John Adams. Her acting here should garner her an Emmy. The actors protraying Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson turned in stellar performances.

Many complain that this did not follow the book of the same title, and was not true to history exactly. To the first query the answer is what does? To the second, it is a well-written and well-acted drama that deserves our attention.

The series begins with the Boston Massacre and John Adams representing the British soldiers. With his successful defense, he is noticed by the Crown, as well as the colonials who are striving for independence. Both want his services. Adams chooses independence over the king and we see him as representative, foreign minister, beggar and borrower, ambassador, vice president, and president. His one anchor through these assignments and occupations in the struggle of a new nation is his love and respect for his wife, Abigail whom he always refers to as “my friend.” The letters between the two is one constant that sustains their love through loneliness of separation, as Mr. Adams is more often away than home.

Particularly touching is the drab existence they share in an uncompleted White House, the grief John Adams suffers from the loss of his Abigail, his renewed friendship with Thomas Jefferson, and his dying belief that his friend survives him, even though Jefferson died three hours earlier. In one of the ironies of our history, both men died exactly fifty years to the day, after July 4, 1776.

This story ends with both Abigail and John Adams quoting letters of their love for each other and a young nation, as they ascend a hill together and look out over their country. They hope that they will be able to see future generations of Americans, from heaven, and wonder if they will deserve the sacrifice and freedom they have given them.

So do I.

Review by Brandon Price:
I read David McCullough’s GREAT book in anticipation of this miniseries. McCullough painted a picture of a man and a time that I found fascinating; a picture of a hardworking, sensitive (maybe mildly obsessive-compulsive in terms of his emotional high and lows) genius. I found the first few episodes excellent, albeit different from the book. It is the last few episodes that have really affected my view on this series.

The series insists on focusing on Adams’ lows. It seems the writers took all the depressing elements of McCullough’s book, which were few, and magnified those to center stage. For instance, John Adams’ alcoholic son Charles has a major part in the series, but played a relatively minor role in the book. The mudslinging between Jefferson and Adams in Adams’ second election for president was jettisoned for the Charles Adams storyline. Also, Adams, presented by McCullough, was a good natured man with a self-deprecating sense of humor. In the series he seems to live in misery.

They also took scenes that were generally upbeat and made them darker. When Adams meets King George III (in my opinion the climax of the story – or at least the first half of the story) in the book, the King is very polite and friendly (much like his portrayal in The Madness of King George III). He smiled a lot and made Adams more comfortable, if not less in awe. In the series the King is just plain weird. I can only guess the filmmakers were hinting at King George’s future illness/madness. It’s almost as if this series is based on another book about John Adams – a darker book. This series really missed the tone of McCullough’s great book.

Still — divorcing myself from the book — I find this series is well-made and held my attention. Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney are very good. My advice would be to watch the series first, then read the book for a much more uplifting story.

Buy John Adams [Blu-ray] now for only $ 32.25!

True Blood: The Complete First Season (HBO Series) [Blu-ray]

TRUE BLOOD chronicles the backwoods Louisiana town of Bon Temps… where vampires have emerged from the coffin, and no longer need humans for their fix. Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin, Academy Award®-winner for “The Piano”) works as a waitress at the rural bar Merlotte’s. Though outwardly a typical young woman, she keeps a dangerous secret: she has the ability to hear the thoughts of others. Her situation is further complicated when the bar gets its first vampire patron – 173-year old Bill Compton (Steven Moyer, “Quills”) – and the two outsiders are immediately drawn to each other. Delivering the best of what audiences have come to expect from Creator and Executive Producer Alan Ball (writer of Oscar®-winning Best Picture “American Beauty”, creator of the Emmy® Award-winning HBO® series “Six Feet Under”), TRUE BLOOD is a dark and sexy tale that boldly delves into the heart – and the neck – of the Deep South.Alan Ball’s True Blood series works well for television, as it has enough sensationalism to tantalize and enough story girth to make the viewer care about the characters. That one can finally invest emotion into monsters, including an undead Civil War victim, a transformer who can shapeshift into various animals, and a female mind reader, speaks volumes about America’s willingness to accept fantasy. Of course, television has always produced good fantasy shows (I Dream of Genie), but True Blood’s Southern Goth brand of fun horror is more macabre and more perverse, not to mention gorier, than most shows of its kind to date. Adapted from Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse novels, True Blood thrills because of its equal blend in each episode of erotica, humor, tragedy, mystery, and fantasy. Set in a rural, swampy Louisiana parrish, the show centers around Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) and her clan, sweet grandmother Adele

  • TRUE BLOOD chronicles the backwoods Louisiana town of Bon Temps. where vampires have emerged from the coffin, and no longer need humans for their fix.Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin, Academy Award?-winner for ?The Piano?) works as a waitress at the rural bar Merlotte’s. Though outwardly a typical young woman, she keeps a dangerous secret: she has the ability to hear the thoughts of others. Her sit

Rating: (out of 726 reviews)

List Price: $ 79.98
Price: $ 33.01

True Blood: The Complete First Season (HBO Series) [Blu-ray] Reviews

Review by Lisa M. Mims:
Rabbit ears on pawn shop televisions are about my speed; needless to say, I don’t watch television. However, kind friends mainline this series two or three shows at a time, and they got me hooked: were I to be completely honest, I might have to admit to giving serious thought to obtaining this by less-than-legal-means. It actually might be worth jail time.

Speaking as someone who was born in America’s deep South, this series captures everything about Louisiana that is appealing. (Spanish Moss, vampires, latent racism and homophobia, the dichotomy between Christian Southern values and patriarchal, brutality-enforced poverty, sassy Southern women who know how to fight with chains, etc.)

What it makes it really stand out, though, is the casting: there isn’t a bad actor in the bunch–and they are all believable as Southern archetypes. Nelsan Ellis as the short order cook/drug dealer Lafayette and Stephen Moyer and Anna Paquin as the romantic leads give mesmerizing performances.

True Blood, or possibly the original series of books from which it arose, is an arresting set of stories: Faulkner says that the only thing really worth writing about (or thinking about, by extension) is the human heart in conflict with itself. The Southern United States depicted in True Blood is conflict embodied–you are a supposed to be a good Christian, and follow the rules of an established society, but you live in the middle of a swamp so dense and wild that it believably could be home to minions of Satan, like vampires.

It’s a lot to think about. If you are one of those artistic/professional types with too much to do, don’t start watching this; it becomes an obsession.

And Now: A Short Review of the Actual DVD–this is the regular, not Blu-Ray version, as my 0.00, cigarette-burned, pawn shop t.v. doesn’t do Blu-Ray.

Price: .00 less than my local electronics store.

Extras: There is some very funny stuff here that was not on the original websites for the series: ads for lawyers for vampires; vampire hotels; vampire dating, all done with the appropriate levels of fake bad acting and camp.

Don’t be afraid to look at the French language ad as well. It uses all of six French words which you probably already know.

There is also a short video parody of someone like Hugh Downs doing an in-depth report on vampires. Complete with bad video backgrounds for foreign locales and hokey vampire internet conspiracies, this is a well-done, satirical background take on some of the ‘vampire movement’s more glossed-over history.

One negative: the commentary tracks play over the original episodes; it’s neat to watch for about five minutes, and then it’s a little bit like dissecting a romantic relationship–the mystery dies once the magic involved gets out into the bright light of day.

However, overall, True Blood Season One is well worth watching again–particularly in the pilot episode, the acting, and the effort the cast and crew put into characterization and detail, is even more obvious the second time around.

Review by G. Merritt:
“Thou Shall Not Crave Thy Neighbour.”

True Blood ponders the question: Why do good girls fall for bad boys? Alan Ball is perhaps best known for his originality and aesthetics in writing the Academy-Award-winning screenplay for American Beauty, and for creating the HBO television show Six Feet Under. Based on Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, Ball’s new HBO series, True Blood (which recently premiered on HBO on September 7, 2008), is another good reason to own a television these days. Set in Bon Temps, Louisiana, the Southern Vampire television series tells the gothic love story of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepathic waitress, who falls in love with the town vampire, Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer). Sookie is a virgin, “cursed” with the ability to hear people’s thoughts. Bill is a 173-year-old vampire who, despite his Southern charms, has only one thing on his mind when it comes to Sookie. Meanwhile, as religious leaders and government officials debate the safety issues surrounding the co-existence of vampires and humans, “Bad Things” (as the show’s theme song suggests) are happening to the residents of Bon Temps. The show’s soundtrack (by Gary Calamar) is equal parts “swampy, bluesy and spooky.” Ryan Kwanten plays Sookie’s brother, Jason Stackhouse, a sex addict who is also addicted to “V” (vampire blood) for its viagra-ecstasy-like effects. William Sanderson and Chris Bauer play the small town’s rather inept investigating law enforcement officers. Much like Six Feet Under, True Blood reveals Alan Ball’s genius for original storytelling. True Blood is not only television with fangs, it is television at its bloody best.

12/12/08 Update: True Blood received a Golden Globe nomination this week.

G. Merritt

Buy True Blood: The Complete First Season (HBO Series) [Blu-ray] now for only $ 33.01!

Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season [Blu-ray]

Rating: (out of 7 reviews)

List Price: $ 49.99
Price: $ 31.99

Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season [Blu-ray] Reviews

Review by Brandon Taylor:
This season really gets Entourage back on track where as the previous season was a downer for the boys while Vinnie wasn’t that mega-star that he used to be. Everyone watches this show because they wish the story was about them and this season doesn’t disappoint. Vinnie is back to being the star that he is with all the girls vying to be his arm candy. The boys are starting to do a lot more on their own in this season, almost making it appear as though Vinnie is bothered by being alone, but they still come together as a crew as usual to cap the season.

Review by S.B.:
According to HBO, the release date is going to be June 24th. So excited!!! Can’t wait for a new season. Best show EVER!!!!

Buy Entourage: The Complete Sixth Season [Blu-ray] now for only $ 31.99!

Generation Kill [Blu-ray]

Based on the national best-selling book by Evan Wright, Generation Kill is an authentic and vividly detailed 7 part HBO mini-series event that presents a uniquely epic and intimate portrait of the first 40 days of the Iraq war from the perspective of the Marines of the First Recon Battalion – a new breed of American soldiers.

The mini-series tells the story of these young Marines physical and emotional journey into the heart of Baghdad in those initial weeks, and how the war reveals to be much more complicated, problematic and tragic than anyone had contemplated. Many of the complications and problems that arise are due to the unwieldy military bureaucracy which the Marines confront in the midst of the war, the challenges of over-zealous and incompetent commanding officers, ever-changing rules of engagement, a non-existent strategy, severe deficiencies in necessary armor and supplies, and an enemy they don’t understand.

Generation Kill is a humorous and frightening first hand account of these remarkable men, of the personal toll of victory, and of the brutality, camaraderie and bureaucracy of a new American war. It is a profoundly insightful and realistic look at the risk, costs and ultimately, the failures of the war.

Written and produced by Emmy-award winner David Simon (the Wire), and also produced by the award-winning George Faber (Elizabeth I). There’s macho, there’s military macho, and then there’s the over-the-top machismo of the Marines. In the HBO miniseries Generation Kill, one character–a Marine–describes his branch of the military as “America’s pitbull.” The seven episodes of Generation Kill follow a battalion of Marines as they lead the invasion of Iraq, ultimately rolling into Baghdad itself by the last show. The language is dense with obscenities and military jargon, but it’s surprisingly easy to follow, even if you don’t

  • Based on the national best-selling book by Evan Wright, Generation Kill is an authentic and vividly detailed 7 part HBO mini-series event that presents a uniquely epic and intimate portrait of the first 40 days of the Iraq war from the perspective of the Marines of the First Recon Battalion ? a new breed of American soldiers.The mini-series tells the story of these young Marines physical and emoti

Rating: (out of 104 reviews)

List Price: $ 79.98
Price: $ 44.95

Generation Kill [Blu-ray] Reviews

Review by James M. Mace:
As an Iraq veteran I was skeptical about watching this at first, thinking that it would be a “Hollywoodized” version of the war. Then a buddy of mine told me it was by far one of the greatest shows he’s ever seen, so I gave it a go. Halfway through the first episode I was awestruck. Like the title of my review states, this show is brutal, relentless, and above all AUTHENTIC. Though I was with the Army, our job was very similar to these Marines in that we rode around in Humvees searching for the bad guys.

Anyone who has served in Iraq in a combat role will relate to these Marines all-too-easily. Well talk the same, have the same frustrations with the chain-of-command and understanding our mission some days (though thankfully my unit did not have anyone like “Captain America”), and deal with the same issues regarding supplies, lack of sleep, and fighting an enemy who the day previously may have been begging you for food.

Some viewers may be turned off by the extreme vulgarity and profanity, but fact is that is the way most “grunts” talk. And I think every Platoon or Squad in theater has its own “CPL Pearson.” Fact of the matter is, none of us are saints and war does bring out mankind at both its best and its worst. “Generation Kill” shows both sides to the Marines in the rawest sense. One thing I like is that it does not attempt to take a political stance one way or the other on the war. Some may view the series as anti-war, given the way some of the Marines question their mission and why they are there. But again that is another reality of this war.

I never thought I would ever want to watch a movie or series about Iraq, however this is by far one of the best series I have ever seen, period! For anyone who is a veteran, knows a veteran, or just wants to know what the war over in Iraq is really like, “Generation Kill” is a must see!

SFC James Mace, U.S. Army

OIF III, 2004-2005

Review by trav:
As a Marine who served with the 1st Marine Division during this time period and someone who knew and provided direct support for General “Mad Dog” Mattis and the 1st Recon Bn (and I’m familiar with a lot of the names I think I can speak with a little authority on this matter. For one, this show was slightly anti-war, and I would also say slightly anti-military. The Marines depicted in this series were a little over the top, although they do fit your very stereotypical Marines…the tough guy, the funny guy…the guy you wonder about(Rudy)…but they’re usually not to this extreme.

One thing that really ticked me off was the portrayal of General Mattis. He is played as a stupid officer who doesn’t care about anyone’s well being, just the mission at hand. I have to say that General Mattis was one of the most intelligent men I have ever met. He cared about the Marines under his charge and would never take putting them in harms way lightly.

All in all a great show, just wish some of the portrayals of real individuals had been a little bit more spot on…

Cpl Travis O’Neill

1st Marine Division HQBN

Buy Generation Kill [Blu-ray] now for only $ 44.95!

The Sopranos: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray]

Meet Tony Soprano: your average, middle-aged businessman. Tony’s got a dutiful wife. A not-so-dutiful daughter. A son named Anthony Jr. A mother he’s trying to coax into a retirement home. A hot-headed uncle. A not-too-secret mistress. And a shrink to tell all his secrets, except the one she already knows: Tony’s a mob boss.The Sopranos, writer-producer-director David Chase’s extraordinary television series, is nominally an urban gangster drama, but its true impact strikes closer to home: Like 1999’s other screen touchstone, American Beauty, the HBO series chronicles a dysfunctional, suburban American family in bold relief. And for protagonist Tony Soprano, there’s the added complexity posed by heading twin families, his collegial mob clan and his own, nouveau riche brood. The series’ brilliant first season is built around what Tony learns when, whipsawed between those two worlds, he finds himself plunged into depression and seeks psychotherapy–a gesture at odds with his midlevel capo’s machismo, yet instantly recognizable as a modern emotional test. With analysis built into the very spine of the show’s elaborate episodic structure, creator Chase and his formidable corps of directors, writers, and actors weave an unpredictable series of parallel and intersecting plot arcs that twist from tragedy to farce to social realism. While creating for a smaller screen, they enjoy a far larger canvas than a single movie would afford, and the results, like the very best episodic television, attain a richness and scope far closer to a novel than movies normally get. Unlike Francis Coppola’s operatic dramatization of Mario Puzo’s Godfather epic, The Sopranos sustains a poignant, even mundane intimacy in its focus on Tony, brought to vivid life by James Gandolfini’s mercurial performance. Alternately seductive, exasperated, fearful, and murderous, Gandolfini is utterly convincing even when executing brutal shifts between domestic comedy and dramatic violence. Both he and

Rating: (out of 330 reviews)

List Price: $ 69.98
Price: $ 29.09

The Sopranos: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] Reviews

Review by Nicole Hamilton:
I’d been hearing about The Sopranos all last year but honestly, I just never have time to catch a series every week. I just don’t watch TV with any regularity and I’m not crazy about missing episodes or seeing them out of order when I know there’s continuity. When I saw that whole first season of The Sopranos was coming out, I figured that would be just right for me.I wasn’t disappointed. Matter of fact, I was blown away. It’s a great show, at times hysterical, at times very dark. The characters are sometimes over the top but they stay close to basic story, unlike a lot of shows where, struggling to fill 60 minutes and having run out of any sensible ideas, they’ll have doctors from an ER show caught in an improbable plane crash in the Andes or whatever.The most interesting thing for me is the way they’ve used Tony Soprano’s sessions with his therapist as a way to stitch everything together and let you get inside Tony’s head. The actors playing both Tony and the therapist turn in remarkable and very believable performances.This set is also a heck of a bargain. You get 13 episodes, four per DVD, plus some bonus materials, which is a lot of viewing time for the money.I recommend this set as easily the best DVD purchase I made all year (this from someone who buys nearly everything that comes out.)

Review by R.D. Monsoon:
The Blu-ray version of Season 1 boasts significant video quality improvements over the 2000 DVD release.

Season 1 used a grainier film stock than subsequent seasons. This was problematic for the 2000 DVD release because MPEG II encoding has a difficult time handling grain, HBO squeezed 4 episodes onto each discs (except the last one) resulting in a high level of compression, there was a lot of edge enhancement applied to the video, and that this was a relatively early DVD release — MPEG II encoding has significantly improved since then. As a result, the video on the DVDs had a lot of artifacts — and the larger the TV you have, the more obtrusive the artifacts and edge enhancement are.

The Blu-ray release pretty much fixes all of those problems. You can really see the difference in the closeups on the actors’ faces. The image is clear with a film texture. You’ll also notice a lot more details in the background.

The pilot episode doesn’t look as good as the rest of the season. This is no doubt because a cheaper film stock was used and they had less time to light scenes due to it being a pilot. The rest of the episodes look uniformly excellent.

Don’t expect the show to look quite as good as good as the HD broadcasts of the later seasons. Starting in Season 2 much more money and effort was put into the cinematography in order to give the show a feature film look. The interiors of Season 1 are typically slightly over lit with a soft white light. I suspect this was done because they had a shorter production schedule then later Seasons when the show was a hit, and they didn’t have time to relight sets every time they moved the camera.

The packaging is virtually identical to the DVD box. HBO has wisely decided to spread the season across 5 discs — no more than 3 episodes per disc. This minimizes compression and helps improve video quality.

Nothing to report about the sound. Like the DVDs, the surround sound channels only come to life during explosions and shoot outs.

Fans of the show will be very happy with the results.

Buy The Sopranos: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] now for only $ 29.09!

How To Make It In America [Blu-ray]

List Price: $ 49.99
Price: $ 34.99

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