The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2008
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 594 Minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Ron Perlman, Katey Sagal, Charlie Hunnam, Kim Coates, Mark Boone Junior, Maggie Siff, Tommy Flanagan, Ryan Hurst, Taylor Sheridan
Created by: Kurt Sutter
Written by: Kurt Sutter, Dave Erickson, Jack LoGiudice
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 18, 2009
"A true outlaw finds the balance between the passion in his heart and the reason in his mind"
The Sons of Anarchy live, ride and die for brotherhood. But as the club's leader (Ron Perlman) and his wife (Katey Segal) steer them in an increasingly lawless direction, her son Jax (Charlie Hunnam) is torn between loyalty and the legacy in this adrenaline-charged first season.
An FX original TV series, Sons of Anarchy, is an adrenalized drama with darkly comedic undertones that explores a notorious outlaw motorcycle club's (MC) desire to protect its livelihood while ensuring that their simple, sheltered town of Charming, California remains, just that, Charming. The MC must confront threats from drug dealers, corporate developers and overzealous law enforcement officers. Behind the MC's familial lifestyle and legally thriving automotive shop is a ruthless and illegally thriving arms business. Their outlaw style subculture manages the seduction of money, power, and the daily threat of bloodshed.
I have said this before, one of the things I enjoy about reviewing is the opportunity for exposure to quality films or programming that I haven't seen before. This is just such an example but I have to admit when I initially received it I wasn't expecting much. It was evident to me after watching the pilot episode that this show had excellent potential. The show revolves around a California motorcycle club called the Sons of Anarchy. The club is lead by Clay (Perlman) and is run by a strict code of ethics and conduct that is pretty much what you'd expect from bikers. The club maintains a hierarchy that includes various positions such as vice president, sergeant at arms, treasurer and runs all the way down to the low man who is referred to as the prospect. Jackson Jax Teller (Hunnam) is second in command as well as a second generation member and is primarily the show's central character. His father was one of the clubs founders but he died from injuries sustained after being hit by a tractor trailer when Jax was a boy. His mother Gemma (Sagal) is now with Clay's old lady and keeps a watchful eye over Jax while maintaining a fair amount of influence over both men. Each member of the club brings an important element to its purpose. The purpose is for the club to thrive through various means which unfortunately place it in direct contravention of state, local, and federal laws. Jax has no qualms about the club's purpose or seeing it through. He is intelligent and forward thinking (most of the time) and doesn't always see the need to handle matters in the traditional sense. This occasionally puts him at odds with Clay which raises eyebrows among the other members of the club. The first few episodes introduce the characters and establishes the foundation upon which the storyline will be built over its 13 hour long episodes.
Let's be honest these are not law abiding citizens and in fact in many instances they prove to be ruthless criminals. While they are depicted this way they are also hold family and personal interests in high regard, and have a strong support system which extends beyond the boundaries of what one might consider when thinking of image of a biker (sorry, you will have to watch and see for yourself). I love the depth of these characters and the grounded manner in which they go about their business. They are well written which clearly establishes their connection and reinforces their strength while enhancing their likeability. Yes they are bad but looking beyond that they live within a definitive and structured subculture where without rules survival would be impossible. Creator/writer Kurt Sutter did his home work and has come up with a superb balance of good and bad that allows acceptance and forgiveness as we bond with and ultimately root for them. This and the selection of the cast that portray them lends strength and balance to the show. Sagal steals every scene she is in and completely nails Gemma as the tough, honest and vulnerable matriarch to the MC. Perlman's gravelly features, commanding presence and sarcastic wit provide Clay with the tools necessary to lead such a diverse group. I have no prior experience with Charlie Hunnam but in my opinion he IS Jax. The remainder of the cast is primarily made up of seasoned actors with pedigrees that make them well suited to their characters. This includes Kim Coates, Mark Boone Junior (who plays my favorite character Bobby), Tommy Flanagan, and Ryan Hurst. Other notables include Mitch Pileggi, Drea De Matteo, Glenn Plummer, Henry Rollins, and William Lucking.
Having encountered bikers at work that would be similar in status to the Sons of Anarchy I think that Sutter's attempts at authenticity are somewhat based in reality. Season one's 13 episodes is spread over three BD-50 Blu-ray discs and sees them encounter a multitude of situations, including the premature birth of Jax's son, Able, rivals trying to thwart their weapons business, a rogue ATF agent, a persistent (but likeable) local cop, and trying to find new ways to survive in a changing world. These are just to name a few. In between there is plenty of ass kicking, gunplay, inner conflict, various twists and a few surprises. No stone goes unturned as the season builds to a thrilling and ultimately devastating climax that left me hankering for more of this compelling, well written, and fun character driven show.
This show contains strong violence, thematic material and language that would not be suitable for younger viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Sons of Anarchy comes to Blu-ray from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 4.2 mbps.
This is an excellent high definition video presentation that boasts warm, inviting colors with deeply saturated primaries and vivid hues. Fleshtones are naturally delineated with warm tonal highlights and discernible complexional variety among the cast. Detail is abundant as images look crisp with clearly resolvable texture, and three dimensional acuity that on occasion offers a near infinite visual perspective. Blacks are rich with excellent dynamic range and appreciable gradational stages. Contrast is strong which provides plenty of pop to colors and whites without overemphasis or loss of detail. The video has a punchy, pleasing, and pristine quality that looks great throughout the presentation. The DTS-HD MA soundtrack features crystal clear dialogue, potent dynamics and a subtle, yet enriching surround sound mix. I was impressed with its use of spacial dimension and directional cues to create a realistic and occasionally immersive sound field. This worked hand in hand with shows excellent music score, and action based sequences to build tension and drive its thematic elements. I thought it sounded great.
- Commentary with select cast/crew for The Pilot episode, The Revelator, and The Pull
- (HD) The making of Sons of Anarchy season one - 9 minutes
- (HD) The Ink - 5 minute feature on the meaning behind the character's tattooed markings
- (HD) The Bikes - 7 minute feature that looks at the motorcycles featured on the show
- (HD) Casting Sons of Anarchy - 14 minute featurette
- 29 deleted/extended scenes
- Anarchy on the set - 7 minute gag reel (sort of)
I found Sons of Anarchy to be a compelling TV drama that features strong, well written characters that are capably brought to life by the show's superb cast. Creator Kurt Sutter has done an excellent job with the series inaugural season which keeps interest high with an engaging storyline that competently dictates the pace with ample amounts of action, drama, and suspense. I look forward to September when season two kicks off. If it's anything like season one, FX has themselves another winner. The series comes to high definition from 20th Century Fox Blu-ray in a well rounded package that not only looks and sounds great but offers fans an entertaining look behind the scenes as told by the cast and crew. If you are a fan this set is worth adding to your collection. Otherwise I highly recommend giving this a rent to check it out. Enjoy!
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