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Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season(TV) (2012)
Chronicles the life and times of Nucky Thompson, the undisputed ruler of Atlantic City, who was equal parts politician and gangster.
For more about Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season and the Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray release, see Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on August 17, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon, Michael K. Williams, Kelly Macdonald, Stephen Graham
» See full cast & crew
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray Review
"I got money. You got booze. What could be simpler than that?"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, August 17, 2013
(Spoiler alert: The following assumes that the reader has watched the first two seasons of Boardwalk Empire. If you have yet to finish The Complete Second Season, proceed at your own risk. A review of the first and second season sets can be found here and here.)
Whereas The Sopranos charted the fall of a New Jersey criminal kingpin, Boardwalk Empire charts its Jersey kingpin's rise; a riveting ascent coursing with a very palpable sense of dread, and a promise of the inevitable fall that will one day come. No, Season Three is not that day, despite escorting Steve Buscemi's Enoch "Nucky" Thompson closer to the brink of destruction than ever before. But after the second season's jaw-slackening finale, all bets were off. The blood on Nucky's hands was now fully his own, his damnation suddenly a certainty. Thankfully, showrunner Terence Winter's third season doesn't afford Nucky much opportunity -- or desire -- to wallow in guilt or remorse. If anything, he's far more comfortable in his skin and profession, making for a much more frightening force of gangland nature than was the scheming politician we first met three years ago. He was once too calculating, perhaps too cautious, to overindulge his ego. To embrace his demons. To reach too high or grasp too low. Now, though, Nucky is beginning to buy into his own myth, and every obstacle in his path is becoming a target in his sights.
January 16th, 1919. The 66th U.S. Congress ratifies the controversial 18th Constitutional Amendment, prohibiting the "manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors." October 28th, 1919. The House overrides President Woodrow Wilson's veto of the Volstead Act, a bill designed to grant authorities the power necessary to uphold the 18th Amendment. October 29th, 1919. The U.S. Senate agrees. The Volstead Act becomes law and the now-infamous Prohibition era is born. January 17th, 1920. Six armed men steal a shipment of medicinal whiskey valued at over $100,000. February 22nd, 1920. Bootlegging and liquor trafficking explodes. Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey are the only states in the Union that still refuse to ratify the 18th Amendment. August 11th, 1920. Organized crime and government corruption, both state and local, are at an all time high. The United States learns that Prohibition doesn't curb crime; it fosters it.
New Year's Eve, 1922. It's been sixteen months since the increasingly dangerous Nucky Thompson (this season a more menacing Buscemi than we've ever seen) executed his former protégé, Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), and living the life of a career criminal in politico's clothing hasn't gotten any easier, particularly in the shadow of Prohibition. Trouble soon follows when Nucky agrees to sell exclusively to Jewish mobster Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), a shrewd move that puts Nucky at deadly odds with an easily offended New York gangster Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), a block of a man as brutal as he is volatile. It's a conflict that quickly spills out of control, beginning with a transport route blockade that threatens profits that leads to a botched hit and, eventually, all-out war. It's Nucky vs. Rosetti, Jersey vs. New York, and every mobster, criminal and two-bit crook in town scurries out of the woodwork.
Caught in the middle is Nucky's estranged wife Margaret (Kelly Macdonald), who's come to loathe her husband and all he represents; Nucky's firecracker mistress, a flapper named Billie Kent (Meg Chambers Steedle); and his world-weary brother Eli (Shea Whigham), recently released from prison after being convicted of election rigging. Meanwhile, enemies and allies, new and old, align on either side of the fight: racketeer Albert "Chalky" White (Michael Kenneth Williams), Chicago gangster Al Capone (Stephen Graham), Prohibition agent turned fugitive Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon), ambitious heavy hitter Charlie Luciano (Vincent Piazza), bootlegger Dean O'Banion (Arron Shiver), Jimmy's old partner Richard Harrow (Jack Huston), Jimmy's mother Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol), con artist Gaston Means (Stephen Root), a young Bugsy Siegel (Michael Zegen) and New York crime boss Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi), among many, many other upstarts, shooters, assassins and pawns.
Boardwalk Empire's third season centers around a slow-brew series of bloody cause-and-effect confrontations that, late in the game, amass a bodycount so high that the final stretch of the season borders on being disjointed from the first ten episodes. Winter and directors Tim Van Patten and Allen Coulter keep a tight grip on the reigns, though, and even at its most intense, the show never drifts too far off the character-driven course. There are scenes of achingly complex, masterfully restrained human drama involving Nucky, Margaret, Richard, Eli and others, and entire episodes in which everything important occurs just beneath the surface. There are also scenes of startlingly devastating consequence and shocking hits courtesy of the likes of Rosetti, Capone, Siegel and, yes, Nucky, who falls into both camps. The contrast between the two classes of gangster -- the wolves and the lions -- hinges on a delicate balance; a balance that's only tipped to unfortunate extremes on rare occasion. (Van Alden's torment at the hands of his co-workers and his eventual breakdown are redeemed only by Shannon's performance. Handled with a brief but almost cartoonish heavy handedness, the at-times irritating subplot is undone by a sales office packed with cruel, on-the-cheap character actors.) Season Three is sometimes a bit more akin to Goodfellas than The Godfather, but even during the most visceral carnage and chaos, the showmakers never lose their heads.
The series also remains a sumptuous, richly designed, utterly convincing period piece that boasts stunning production design and costuming. I'm not often distracted by the craftsmanship and fully realized research entailed in a series like Boardwalk Empire, but it's difficult to focus solely on an episode when a show looks this good. From top to bottom, script to screen, this 1920s Atlantic City. The authenticity is astonishing, the dialogue expertly penned (and so much more than mere tough-guy chit chat), the little, seemingly innocuous details flawless, the performances as studied as the set decoration, and the sum total the airtight illusion executive producer Martin Scorsese envisioned from the start. Even when one of the series' storylines wears thin or grows tiresome -- which isn't often -- the world, the cinematography, the music... it comes together beautifully, and without a hint of the cancerous modernization that afflicts many a period drama. The action is sometimes too stylized for its own good, sure. The explosive violence a bit contrived, or the brutish intimidation a bit thick in the jowls, I'll concede. And Season Three doesn't always feel itself. I noticed too. But bullet for bullet, bottle for bottle, Boardwalk Empire is something special and continues to stand as one of the most absorbing series on television, as well as yet another award-worthy HBO triumph.
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Season Three episode guide:
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like the two seasons before it, not to mention the bulk of HBO's Blu-ray releases, Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season doesn't falter or fail. Its 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation is so exacting and proficient that it's hard to imagine a scenario where it could look much better than it does here. Sharpshooting videophiles will notice a bit of crush here and there, as well as an occasional unevenness to the series' ever-mild graininess. But none of it should be cause for alarm. What little inconsistency there is traces back to the series' photography and source, and the season's twelve episodes are spread comfortably across five BD-50 discs, giving each one ample room to breathe. And without significant artifacting, banding, aliasing or other anomalies to speak of, the pristine presentation doesn't have any easily discerned flaws. The series' palette shifts gracefully from the warm, decadent hues of Nucky's extravagance to the bleak, dusty reality of the streets. Primaries are vibrant when called upon but muted on the whole, skintones are lifelike whatever the scene, and black levels remain satisfying throughout. Moreover, detail is excellent, allowing viewers to further marvel at the series' gorgeous production design. Edges are clean and well-defined, fine textures are rewarding, and delineation is revealing, without anything in the way of distractions or eyesores. Some inherent softness enters the fray, but it too is a product of the source. Likewise, the darkest scenes feature almost impenetrable shadows, but the showrunners' intentions have been preserved. All told, HBO has done it once again.
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Complete Third Season's bloody shootouts and gangland warscapes mow down the competition with a top tier DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track every bit as enveloping as its lossless Season One and Two predecessors. Dialogue is clear, perfectly intelligible and masterfully prioritized, no matter how volatile the action becomes or how aggressively the gunfire growls. LFE output is packed with punch and power, adding weight to every gunshot, intensity to every explosion and dramatic heft to every kill, chase or interrogation. The rear speakers carve out their own piece of the soundfield, meanwhile, and create a fully immersive, altogether involving experience. Directionality is precise, pans are impeccably smooth, and the series' score and period music teases, erupts or creeps along with ease. The finale episode amounts to a standout among standouts, and the sonic culmination of Rosetti's war with Nucky is as nuanced as it is enthralling. I don't have a single complaint, and didn't jot down a single negative. I doubt any of you will either.
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Boardwalk Empire is unlike any other series on television. From its magnificent production design to its period authenticity to its gripping gangland drama, it remains one of the finest shows around. Season Three isn't as strong as Season Two -- the Nucky v. Rosetti storyline isn't as suspenseful or unpredictable as its Nucky v. Jimmy predecessor -- but it's hard to look away, and even harder to wait to see where the series goes in Season Four. HBO's Blu-ray release of The Complete Fourth Season is about as perfect as they come, though, thanks to a stunning video presentation and terrific DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The lone asterisk to the "perfect as they come" label is the second season's supplemental package. It's loaded with content, sure, but only six of the season's twelve episodes sport commentaries, and there isn't any Picture-in-Picture goodness to speak of. Still, it's tough to top an HBO Blu-ray release, and the 5-disc killer that is The Complete Third Season is yet another example of the premium cable network's edge over the competition.
Boardwalk Empire: Other Seasons
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Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: August 20-27 - August 17, 2013
For the week of August 20th, Twentieth Century Fox is releasing Epic, the fun, sprightly adaptation of William Joyce's The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs. Other releases include Season Three of HBO's Boardwalk Empire, the Academy Award-winning Amour, Mark Steven ...
• Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season Blu-ray - May 10, 2013
HBO has announced and detailed the Blu-ray release of Boardwalk Empire: The Complete Third Season. One of HBO's signature shows, the series chronicles the life and times of Atlantic County treasurer Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (Steve Buscemi), at a time when Prohibition ...
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