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House of Cards: The Complete Second Season(TV) (2014)
Ruthless and cunning, Congressman Francis Underwood and his wife Claire stop at nothing to conquer everything. This wicked political drama penetrates the shadowy world of greed, sex, and corruption in modern D.C.
For more about House of Cards: The Complete Second Season and the House of Cards: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray release, see House of Cards: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on June 21, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Directors: David Fincher, James Foley, Allen Coulter, Carl Franklin, Charles McDougall, Joel Schumacher
Writers: Michael Dobbs, Andrew Davies (I), Sarah Treem
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright Penn, Reuel Pendleton, Sakina Jaffrey, Michael Kelly, Kristen Connolly
» See full cast & crew
House of Cards: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review
“The best thing about human beings is that they stack so neatly.”
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, June 21, 2014
When it was first made available via streaming, House of Cards' debut season was in some ways overshadowed by Netflix's bold charge into the future of television. Sure, Cards was one of the best new series of 2013; a powerfully addicting water cooler drama in a post-water cooler age. I knew it. You knew it. We all knew it. But no one could talk about the show without, at some point, going on and on about the latest source of premiere programming, the freedom it provides its stable of creators, paced viewing vs. binge watching (still an ongoing debate) and the redemption arc of Netflix itself, which just two years prior had nearly imploded following a poorly implemented price hike that left millions of customers outraged. (To put it mildly.) With House of Cards' second season, though, we're well on our way to taking Netflix Streaming's original programming business model for granted. So sit back, take a breath and focus on what really matters: one of the finest shows of 2014.
Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey): former House Whip. Ambitious, intensely calculating politician. Vindictive force to be reckoned with. Newly anointed Vice President. Murderer. In Season One, Frank proved he was capable of anything, even bringing a very literal end to a well-intentioned public figure standing in his path. At the outset of Season Two, the House of Cards showrunners make a point of reminding audiences exactly how far Underwood is willing to go with a shocking, unsettlingly decisive move that blurs the line between protagonist and outright villain. From there, tying up loose ends seems like child's play as the VP turns his attention to a whole new set of problems, none of which afford him a moment's rest. His schemes soon infect President Walker (Michel Gill), White House Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez (Sakina Jaffrey), POTUS' confidant Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRaney), Majority Whip candidate Jackie Sharp (Molly Parker) and everyone else that poses a threat on -- and off -- Capital Hill. The only person safe from his scorched earth tactics is his wife Claire (Robin Wright), who's busy orchestrating plans of her own. The Underwoods are out for blood, and it suits them all too well.
The series' second season wanders down two or three questionable paths and takes a handful of tricky turns here and there, but it does so with the swiftest of steps and a confidence as compelling and captivating as the characters involved. It's an improvement on its predecessor in almost every way, and Season One was already a taut, unbearably suspenseful slow-burn thriller. From Frank's most sinister Machiavellian machinations (somehow more shocking than before) to the new politicos introduced (Jackie Sharp chief among them), to the cast members added to producer David Fincher and creator Beau Willimon's enviable ensemble, to the expertly constructed scripts, the increasingly daunting stakes, and beyond, Season Two serves up a high-risk, high-reward long-con every bit as intricate and exciting to watch unfold as a classic heist film. The habitually manipulative Underwood isn't plotting to crack a bank vault or loot a casino, of course, but he could pull it off with his eyes closed and his hands tied behind his back. And probably without stepping foot outside his office. A dragon in a garden of serpents, the VP readily embraces the kill-or-be-killed game of Washington political warfare, with the frightening certainty he'll either be crowned king or branded a traitor and lose his head.
Spacey is as irresistible and charming a silver-tongued devil as Underwood. Knowing the inner-workings of the VP's mind and the motivation behind every move transforms the man into an even more magnetic monster. There are crystalizing moments when you realize you're rooting for one of the most vile politicians to grace television; an unmistakably vicious opportunist eager to sacrifice anyone and everyone if it furthers his agenda. And yet every ugly truth, devious plot and stunning revelation only makes Spacey's audience that much more complicit in Frank's crimes. It's the work of a master manipulator -- Spacey more than Underwood -- and inseparable from the mechanics of the season, as designed by the equally formidable Willimon, operating behind the scenes in an even more crucial role. Not that Spacey and Willimon are the only hypnotists in the mix. Spacey's co-stars, Wright and Parker in particular, nearly swipe entire scenes from Willimon's leading man. And for anyone who's watched the original BBC miniseries, you'll know that's precisely the task all involved will need to invest in to bring House of Cards to what promises to be an unforgettable climax. Whether the series ends with Season Three or earns a longer lifespan isn't quite clear at the moment. What is clear is that Willimon and company have the wherewithal to abandon the British miniseries' three-act structure. I'm anxious to see Underwood's story come to a close -- for no other reason than to know how Fincher and Willimon plan to wrap it all up -- but I also wouldn't be heartbroken to learn a fourth season was on the horizon.
The Complete Second Season features thirteen episodes spread across four BD-50 discs:
House of Cards: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like the series' first season release, House of Cards: The Complete Second Season boasts a striking 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation framed at 2.00:1. Each episode has been shot digitally using Red Epic cameras and the resulting image is pristine. There's a hint of noise to darker scenes that's inherent to cinematographer Igor Martinovic's photography, but nothing that proves distracting. Significant macroblocking, banding, aliasing and other potential issues are simply nowhere to be found, meaning there's a fairly substantial uptick in quality when moving from the overly compressed Netflix stream to Sony's roomy 4-disc Blu-ray. (It's just a shame Sony isn't also releasing a 4K edition, since the series is currently available to stream in 4K for those with compatible 4K displays.) Although the palette is often desaturated and devoid of vibrancy, skintones remain quite lifelike throughout, primaries still have a presence and black levels are rich and foreboding. Detail is excellent as well; crisp and refined, with exceptionally well-resolved textures and revealing delineation. Close-ups are particularly rewarding, with contrast and clarity providing perfectly balanced bipartisan support from nail-biting start to jaw-dropping finish.
House of Cards: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
House of Cards' DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is as slick and deceptive as Underwood, lulling listeners into a false sense of security before pouncing with all the fury and might at its disposal. Dialogue is clean, intelligible and impeccably prioritized, without any mishaps that might impede the experience. LFE output is restrained on the whole but strong when called upon, much like the rear speakers, which deliver a nuanced soundfield brimming with oh so convincing ambient effects, acoustic prowess, directional sleight of hand and immersive know-how. And while the mix only grows aggressive and bears its teeth on a few heart-stopping occasions, it never goes for anything but the jugular when it attacks, and does so without hesitation or mercy. Sony once again delivers on its AV promises.
House of Cards: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
House of Cards: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
House of Cards's engrossing second season is darker, slicker and more dangerous than its first, with a frightening furtherance of Francis Underwood's power the brings with it higher stakes, bigger risks and more startling surprises. It remains one of the best written, best performed shows on television (online or traditionally broadcast). Watch for it to make a killing at this year's awards ceremonies. Sony's 4-disc Blu-ray edition is a terrific set as well, with a flawless video presentation (that handily bests its Netflix streaming counterpart), absorbing DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track and, unlike The Complete First Season BD, a number of special features (even though the available content clocks in at less than an hour). If you aren't already watching House of Cards, snap to. If you are, you already know adding The Complete Second Season to your Blu-ray collection is one of the easiest decisions you'll make this year.
House of Cards: Other Seasons
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• House of Cards: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray - April 15, 2014
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has officially announced the Blu-ray release of executive producer David Fincher and award-winning playwright and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Beau Willimon's House of Cards: The Complete Second Season. The critically acclaimed ...
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