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Magic City: The Complete First Season(TV) (2012)
No synopsis for Magic City: The Complete First Season.
For more about Magic City: The Complete First Season and the Magic City: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see Magic City: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Olga Kurylenko, Steven Strait, Jessica Marais, Christian Cooke, Elena Satine
» See full cast & crew
Magic City: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
Not so magical after all.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 28, 2012
I will do whatever I have to do to stay alive.
Late 1950s Miami is the backdrop for the new Starz original series Magic City, a flashy but rather empty program that follows the lavish and sexy beachside hotel business and the darker underbelly and shady characters that keep it running behind the scenes. That sounds like a rather juicy premise for a series -- and it is -- but Magic City never finds its stride through season one, getting the glitz and glamour just right but offering a rather empty-headed wannabe dark and complex family narrative and business drama. Series creator Mitch Glazer sources the program from both fiction and historical fact. The series admirably builds up a convincing exterior that effortlessly lures audiences into the sex and flash of the place and period, but the rest of the program never gels, working through bland plot arcs and uninteresting stock-like characters who fail to give the series the sort of teeth it really needs to ascend to the top of the television heap where equally lavish programs like Spartacus and more dramatically satisfying fare like Breaking Bad reside.
Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is married to the beautiful Vera (Olga Kurylenko) and owns the prestigious Miramar Playa hotel in Miami, Florida, an empire built on sand, a lavish retreat for A-list guests with money to burn and prominence to display. It's bustling with attractive women but it's not so sexy underneath. It's New Year's Eve, 1958. Frank Sinatra is performing, the event promises to be packed, and it would seem that Ike has it made. Unfortunately, all is not well. Ike's employees are striking and he's forced to turn to the sly and slick Mikey (Leland Orser) to call off the strike, but he's determined to play hardball. Ike has no other choice but to turn to local mob figurehead Ben Diamond (Danny Huston) to strike a deal with the proverbial devil and get the hotel back to 100% operation, complicating a previous business arrangement and creating the opening Ben has been waiting for, hoping to seize further control of the hotel from Ike. Meanwhile, Ike's playboy son Stevie (Steven Strait) begins an illicit sexual relationship with Diamond's much younger wife, Lily (Jessica Marais). His other son, Danny (Christian Cooke), is a law student with his eye on an old friend, hotel maid Mercedes (Dominik Garcia-Lorido), daughter of the hotel's General Manager Victor Lazaro (Yul Vazquez). Ike's daughter, Lauren (Taylor Blackwell), is preparing for her Bat Mitzvah, and she would like nothing more than for her grandfather Arthur (Alex Rocco) to set aside his religious cynicism and attend her event.
Magic City plays like a tale of two programs, one a beautifully lavish spectacle, a near perfect recreation of the late 1950s that at worst passes the eyeball test and at best -- which is pretty much every scene -- sucks the audience into both the era and the Miramar Playa's atmosphere and the sex appeal of the people who inhabit and run it. It's the perfect setting for a modern retro-themed television program, the 1950s representing the last great era of classy automobiles, cutting edge design, sexy but not necessarily revealing clothes, and a time of calm before the height of the Cold War, the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam, the 60s revolution, and all that would come in the decades to follow. Magic City is, in that way, pure magic, a veritable time machine of period nostalgia and painstaking recreation. Underneath, the show efforts to create a seedy second world that's only skin-deep in the feel-good vibes of Frank Sinatra, bikinis, sex, and lots and lots of money. It's here where the show feels rather hollow, venturing through unimaginative twists and turns and exploits seen countless times before in films and shows that cross the business world and the mafia underworld. It's trite and best and banal at worst, snazzy and slick to be sure but not particularly moody and never finding much of an original angle to support the superficial.
Likewise, the series' character roster fails to elicit much of a response. The actors look great in costume and blend right into the painstakingly recreated environment, but their characters fall victim to the hollow pursuits of stock players maneuvering through all of the expected twists of love and lust and longing for money, power, and sex. Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Ike Evans seems pulled straight out of Mad Men, a series that hangs over Magic City with an almost inescapable presence. Longtime Mad Men fans will note several distinct similarities and probably leave them pining for AMC's vastly superior period drama offering. The side characters don't find much more originality. There's a disappointing staleness that lingers throughout the entire roster, whether the good son/bad son dynamic, the foreign wife who longs to be more than eye candy and an arm trophy, the dangerous mob boss, and the risqué mobster's wife. The series absolutely sinks with its characters, failing to shape them in any sort of meaningful way beyond the superficial or any more than the series requires to get from episode one to episode eight. Here's hoping season two brings more dynamic interaction and development rather than the stale crumbs that shape the characters in season one.
Magic City: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Magic City: The Complete First Season rolls onto Blu-ray with a polished and pleasant 1080p transfer. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray presentation handles the golden-tinged series nicely, displaying colors with brilliance and exacting precision. Whether lavish poolside scenes that offer brilliant blue water and a multitude of bright clothing shades or darker, moodier interiors that hang on to that golden tint, the transfer displays the series' color palette with commendable ease and efficiency. Detail is often striking; facial lines, fine clothing seams, and the pinpoint textures in and around the hotel dazzle with their complexity and natural appearance. The HD video production does go somewhat glossy and flat at times, but fine detail is rarely lacking. Lower light scenes can reveal some troublesome color gradations across faces, but shadow detail is otherwise strong and skin tones are largely natural and reflective of various lighting conditions. Minimal banding and light noise are the only other negative aspects of note. Altogether, this is a very strong, balanced, and attractive transfer that suits the series very well.
Magic City: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Magic City: The Complete First Season features a high quality Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. The presentation offers a clear, clean, sometimes robust, and consistently pleasant and natural sound presentation. Music drifts nicely off to the sides, and listeners are greeted with a rich, accurate sound presentation from the beginning. Music is smooth and nicely detailed through the entire range. The surrounds don't carry too much musical information, but the spacing and clarity up front are superb. The track offers plenty of light but mood-critical ambience. Whether beachside waves, general sounds within the hotel lobby, or rolling thunder and light rains, Anchor Bay's presentation does well to gently envelop the listener in the various Miami environments and situations. For the most part, dialogue is clear and accurate as it flows from the center. There are a few minor instances when it sounds a little harsh and detached, but such are certainly outliers in what is, overall, a very nice presentation.
Magic City: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
All of the Magic City: The Complete First Season supplements appear on disc three.
Magic City: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
It's a shame that Magic City cannot find a more dynamic plot and superior characters in light of the first-rate work that shapes the series' superficial qualities. Magic City might be the most glamorous program on television, unsurpassed in its production design and unequaled in its ability to effortlessly draw its audience into a fabulously recreated era of power, sex, and prestige. Unfortunately, the series flubs both its characters and its story, making the former stock and the latter pulled from the Book of Unimaginative Scriptwriting. Fans deserve more than what often feels like Mad Men meets The Sopranos but without the great characters and alluring plot arcs to set it apart. Magic City: The Complete First Season features strong video and audio but only a handful of low-effort supplements. The relatively low asking price makes this worthy of a purchase should fans be so inclined, but the curious viewer would be smart to rent before committing to a purchase.
Magic City: Other Seasons
Blu-ray bundles with Magic City: The Complete First Season (1 bundle)
Magic City: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Exclusive Giveaway - Magic City: The Complete First Season - September 26, 2012
Blu-ray.com and Anchor Bay Entertainment are offering three members an opportunity to win a copy of Magic City: The Complete First Season, starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Danny Huston and Olga Kurylenko. The first season of the new Starz original series comes to ...
Magic City: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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