HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Arrow: The Complete Second Season
HTS Overall Score:87
In my experience, DC has not always had the greatest of success adapting comic books to live action. We’ve had some good ones, some bad ones, and plenty of mediocre ones instead dominating the animated adaptation marketplace with a long and very successful line of films. I had really meant to watch “Arrow” when it came out a couple years ago for various reasons, but the VERY mediocre “Smallville” left me inclined to not want to watch another DC live action show adapted by our friends at CW. The great reviews for the show, however, piqued my curiosity and our own review by Todd Anderson put it on my short list, but somehow got bumped to my forgotten list with a plethora of other viewing items to do. When I realized season 2 was getting close to street date, I got down and set a few weeks aside for watching season 1 so that I could be caught up for this season. Little did I know that 2 weeks was WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too long for this series, as I binged all 23 episodes in less than 3 days, which has brought me to the conclusion that Warner has laced the discs with some form of crack, since I couldn’t stop cramming discs into my player with shaking hands, just begging for my next fix.
For those who haven’t seen the 1st series, I highly recommend reading our review HERE first, and proceed in this review with caution for there are heavy spoilers about season 1.
When we last left Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), he had just finished taking out Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) after failing to completely stop the madman’s quest to destroy the impoverished “Glades” subsection of the fictional Starling City. Grieving over the death of his childhood friend, Tommy Merlyn, Oliver has banished himself back to the island that created him, oblivious to the rest of the world. Finally convinced by his partners and backup John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity Smoake (Emily Bett Rickards), he returns once more to Starling City to return to cleaning up the mess left by his parents and the other elite that created this devastation. Now that the list has been fulfilled and Ollie has grown a conscience about his brutal methods, The Hood has to reinvent himself, becoming something greater and more potent, someone who’s concerned about ALL the citizens in the city rather than just a vendetta against those who were in his father’s black book of criminals. Now, reborn from his vigilante name of “The Hood”, he becomes “The Arrow”, a hero fighting for law and order everywhere, without the body count that littered his past.
Season 2 has a lot of surprises for us; we are let in really quick that Sara Lance (Caity Lotz this season) didn’t die in the boat accident that marooned our hero. She’s back in Starling City as a masked vigilant named “The Canary” and she’s looking out for the family that she has left in town. It seems that while Ollie had spent a lot of time on the Island, she had spent some time being trained as a member of the league of Assassins under the tutelage of Ras Al Ghul, becoming a world class killer. Now that her family had been under threat from the glades destruction, she leads those same assassins to them in an effort to drag her back into the fold. Add one more minion to the mix as Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) is not just sitting around after his encounter with the Hood. He’s out on the street dishing out his own brand of vigilante justice to criminals, and now with some new found super soldier powers that make him a very volatile creation.
Just like Malcolm Merlyn, we have an overarching villain to the series that has been hiding in the shadows for a very long time. Waiting, planning, scheming for a chance when he came come into the light and wreak havoc on our boy in green. All good DC comic book followers recognize who he is from the minute the series started and have been waiting in anticipation for the masked nemesis, Deathstroke, to make his appearance. Forged in war and created by grief, Deathstroke is armed with a super soldier serum that makes him nigh invincible to destruction; combined with being a master tactician, he is the most dangerous foe that the Arrow has ever faced in his entire life. Wreaking death, havoc, and pain on Oliver and his city is all that Deathstroke cares about, so Ollie, Felicity, Roy and Diggle have to come together and use every resource at their disposal to take care of him once and for all.
I loved season 1 of “Arrow” (as if you couldn’t tell by me binging it in 3 days), and it was an amazing 4/5 rated show in my opinion, but Season 2 takes it to a wholly different level. The 1st season was a great introduction, with a handful of comic book villains and some of that typical CW “angst” that they’re known for. It had a decent first half and then amped up into high gear for the 2nd half, making an amazing season finale. Season 2 decides to skip the “decent” part and just kicks off in gear 6, blasting in with such gusto and passion that you can’t help but hang on for dear life. Not content to mix in a few comic book tropes and villains, season 2 is just SLATHERED in awesome villains from the comics, albeit some of them slightly modified. We’ve got everyone from the Dollmaker, Shrapnel, Deadshot, The Bronze Tiger (played by Michael Jai White), The Clock King, the return of Helen as The Huntress, and even a teensy hint at Harley Quinn. We even get to see Amanda Waller of Argus and her suicide squad make an appearance! (that episode literally left me dancing around the room like a little comic nerd).
As previously mentioned, Ollie is running around with more heroes too, as he gets minions in the form of Roy Harper (soon to known as Arsenal for those who love comic lore), partners up with his thought-dead lover Sara Lance as The Canary. We even see a cameo by Nyssa Al Ghul and a cadre of the League for the final battle. And not to be outdone, there is a cameo by a young police analyst up in Central city, a Barry Allen by name that fans of the comics will IMMEDIATELY know (big hint, he’s getting his own spin off show starting with Arrow season 3). If anything, you can’t deny that the series saturates itself in the comic book lore and does an amazing job at translating these to the TV screen. I could rave about this series for hours, as I absolutely adore this season, but there are a few issues that I have to point out too. We aren’t completely free from the old CW angst as there’s plenty of dramatic tension between the Lances and the almost Batman like brooding Arrow to go around. Oliver has never had good luck at romance, and here we see his personal demons rise to the surface, forcing his loved ones to the background as he tries to protect them the best he can. Unfortunately, protecting people by lying to them and not extending trust ends up alienating a lot of the people he cares about, including his sister Thea (Willa Holland). The next comes with some of the dialogue in the show. The majority of the writing is top notch and fits the fun nature of the series, but every once in a while you get slapped upside the head with a phrase or a line that just is so utterly teenage cheesy that it sticks out like thumb that just got hit with a hammer. Complaints aside, you just can’t resist the sheer amount of fun that the show exudes, and in the last couple weeks I’ve severely hooked several friends on the series as well, a testament to its popularity and charm. With Season 3 starting in a less than 3 weeks, I can’t wait to get more of my newest addiction.
The episode rundown:
City of Heroes
League of Assassins
Keep Your Enemies Closer
State Vs. Queen
Heir to the Demon
Time of Death
Birds of Prey
The Man Under the Hood
City of Blood
Streets of Fire
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=26609[/img]As with most new Warner Brother’s releases, we have a fantastic home video release for “Arrow: The Complete Second Season” on Blu-ray. The series was shot digitally and looks simply fantastic as it’s spread across 4 BD-50 discs with a few special features to keep the encodes company. The show takes place mainly at night and is bathed in darkness, the time when the Arrow makes himself known to the criminals of Starling City, and the black levels are simply superb. There is a little bit of digital noise in some of the darker scenes, but not a whole lot, and it doesn't mar the fantastic detail that series has going for it. Plenty of beautiful cityscapes to look at, and the colors pop off the screen with bright neon reds of tail lights and colorful costumes that our superheroes and super villains just LOVE to wear (the Deathstroke costume looks exceptionally awesome). I did notice some VERY minor banding in the night skies every once in a great while, but I’m really nitpicking there as you blink and you miss it. A great looking image for an amazing series for sure.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=26617[/img]Not to be left out, “Arrow” is packed with a rocking 5.1 DTS-HD MA track that really pushes the boundaries for most TV shows. Extremely active and full of power, the “Arrow” experience is greatly enhanced by an audio track that isn’t satisfied with just being a front heavy little boy and roars with the power of a full on super hero itself. The surrounds are constantly active with the fisticuffs and even plenty of city traffic and bustle to satisfy even the most retentive of audiophiles. LFE is powerful and adds some serious weight to the track, really rocking when the fights get going and of course the dull throbbing power of Amanda Waller’s ever loving fascination with bringing in air strikes from military drones. The dialogue is clean and clear and locked into those front three speakers quite well. There’s some nice directionality to the track accompanied with some very well done panning moments. Specifically during some of the battle scenes. Almost reference, this track does the job, and does it WELL.
• From Vigilante to Hero
• How Did They Do That?! The Visual Effects "of Arrow"
• Wire work: The Impossible Moves of "Arrow"
• Arrow 2013 Comic Con Panel
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
“Arrow” is a show that is most DEFINITELY worth checking out if you haven’t seen it before, and the second season raises the bar even more, cementing its status as one of CW’s most popular shows and the resurgence of me actually watching another CW superhero show. It has all of what made “Smallville” fun, and has erased a lot of the tweeny issues that made it so bad, at the same time all wrapped up in a nice Batmanesque brooding way. All I can say that this is a must get season, amping up the action, the volume and the fun along with an amazing audio/video presentation. Definitely recommended.
Starring: Steve Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey
Created by: Andrew Kreisberg, Greg Berlanti
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Portuguese, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 1056 minutes
Own it on Blu-ray™ Combo, DVD & Digital HD September 16th
Buy Arrow: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It!
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