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Magic City: The Complete Second Season(TV) (2013)
No synopsis for Magic City: The Complete Second Season.
For more about Magic City: The Complete Second Season and the Magic City: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray release, see Magic City: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on October 30, 2013 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 Second Season Blu-ray Review
James Caan makes things a little more magical.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, October 30, 2013
The cable television drama rat race heats up again for more dark dealings on the bright beaches of Miami in the second season of Magic City, the Starz program about the late 1950s beachside hotel business and the corruption, bad dealings, personal intrigue, sex, politics, and the law that shape the business behind the scenes, certainly more than even the glitz and glamour façade that lures customers and makes money. The truth is that the big money is made and exchanged in the back rooms and the penthouses and away from the hustle-and-bustle of tourism, and through the sort of dark, shady deals that would probably leave customers running and ruin a reputation that even the most extravagant decor and prime real estate couldn't fix. Magic City enjoys all of the bells and whistles of modern television, including a top-notch cast, amazing production values, passably intense drama, complex (albeit rather generic) characters, and a suitably intriguing arc. But that's also part of the problem. The series never does feel quite so fresh as the best that television has to offer. It's striving to duplicate success rather than make its own. It's certainly very good in that regard, but there's never a real spice, a real groundbreaking novelty, a real escape from genre basics. Series Creator Mitch Glazer has crafted an alluring world, but no matter how smart the writing, how good the acting, how compelling the drama may be, the series never quite reaches the heights of success for which it strives.
Season two does what good season twos should: build on everything that happened in season one and, like big time business, expand, expand, expand. Season two sees new characters and fresh angles but a familiarity in style and a further development of characters in and around the glitzy Miramar Playa. The show continues to capitalize on the glamour of its setting -- late 1950s Miami remains a quintessentially sexy landscape that contrasts beautifully with the dark and lurid dealings that play out in the figurative background -- while never really forcing it into the center or hobbling on it like a crutch to mask any other shortcomings. It's much the same sort of success, though on a smaller scale, that Hawaii Five-0 finds with its setting, making it a figurative character but not such a critical part of the series that it would otherwise crumble if the action were to shift elsewhere for a time. But enough with the superficialities. Magic City embraces its lurid characters, its corruption, its unique inter-character dynamics and rarely takes the easy way out. It certainly telegraphs a bit and follows a general path that grows emotionally darker, but there are some surprises along the way as the characters play one another and the show toys with the audience in where it's headed and why. It's an improvement on season one, largely because the character, setting, and plot dynamics have been explored and are now allowed to expand. There's still a general staleness to the program, but there's certainly serviceable drama that's better than a good bit of what's currently masquerading as television sensationalism.
Though there's an underlying conflict between "good drama" and "stale drama" at play throughout the season and the series, Magic City excels from a technical perspective. The show looks terrific and sells its era in every scene. Wardrobes and set design are resplendent and nearly reason enough to catch an episode. Even when the drama doesn't quite pull the audience in the entire way, the setting certainly does and that attention to detail helps to better define the series' characters. On another page, Magic City's character roster feels a little generic -- these are fairly complex characters but they're not particularly original characters -- but they do soak up every bit of atmosphere and snuggly fit in with their surroundings. The cast breathes more life into them than does the script. There's a vigor and verve to the characters that's manufactured by first-rate performances across every lead and an authenticity to the emotions, the shady deals, the sticky situations, the affairs, the fears, the wins, and the losses that's almost all on the actors. Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Danny Huston absolutely dominate, even through rather stock characters. The deeper through the series they travel, the more they seem to shine and feed off their surroundings and come to understand the very real, very dangerous dynamics at play and that are waiting for them with the next Miami sunrise that could mean the sunset of their days and dealings with one another and the hotel.
Where season two truly takes off and improves, albeit slightly, on its predecessor is through the arrival of James Caan. The actor adds a clearly defined and perpetually realized heft to the program, not simply through name recognition and screen domination but by solidifying the storyline and adding to the Ike-Ben dynamic that grows closer, more complex, and more dangerous with every development. Caan doesn't simply ruffle feathers in the show. He also helps to rally the audience with a fairly prototypical but determined performance as a Chicago mobster whose mere presence complicates the dynamics of Miami and the Miramar Playa. He's particularly strong when he plays against Danny Huston's Ben Diamond; the two make for a complimentary pair not only as it relates to the characters they play but, maybe more evidently, in how the actors feed off of one another and build a tension and story dynamic that wasn't quite this juicy in season one. Caan solidifies the roster but doesn't dominate the program; he effortlessly fits into the story and the setting and, at least in the scenes in which he appears, rescues what can be a rather sluggish pacing for the program.
Magic City: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Magic City: The Complete Second Season's 1080p transfer looks terrific. Colors are a little warm, favoring and reinforcing that hot Miami feel. Still, the palette proves suitably vibrant, providing rich exterior greens, beautifully realized makeup and clothing shades, and more regal hotel backgrounds. Skin tones do push a little warm, but black levels are rather deep and accurate. Detail is strong throughout. The HD video source can look a little flat, but not to the detriment of facial textures, clothing lines, or the clarity with which all of the gorgeous Miami scenery is presented. The image always borders on excellence and achieves excellence more often than not; it's so well colored and detailed that it often passes for lifelike, particularly in its brightest outdoor scenes. It's a satisfying image that's also largely without the fault of banding, noise, or other eyesores. In sum, it's a very strong, very enjoyable transfer from Anchor Bay.
Magic City: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Magic City: The Complete Second Season features a balanced and enjoyable Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Musical notes play with even spacing, frequent and balanced surround support, good general clarity, and basic low end support heft, whether the opening title theme music or the many popular tunes that play throughout the season. The track also provides very well realized ambient effects, whether rolling beachside waves or well integrated background noises at parties. All of the basic front-and-center sound effects enjoy a rather natural, nicely realized accuracy, including gunfire; a few shotgun blasts in episode two are particularly noteworthy for their stage presence and power. Dialogue plays smoothly and evenly from the center channel. This is a good all-around sound presentation from Anchor Bay.
Magic City: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Magic City: The Complete Second Season's supplemental features may be found on disc three. Optional English SDH subtitles are included.
Magic City: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Magic City: The Complete Second Season's bread-and-butter drama satisfies, but there are an awful lot of rather empty dramatic calories here. The show feels rather stale and never really innovates, maneuvering through typically big-staged and occasionally overblown new-wave cable television drama. It doesn't push the envelope in the way other Starz series tend to; it's a fairly routine experience that's enhanced by gorgeous photography, fantastic costume and set design, and superb performances that elevate otherwise stereotypical characters into people whose complex lives are worth experiencing. The show received its walking papers a couple of months ago, leaving fans with an empty feeling but also an empty slot that Starz will, hopefully, fill with something a little more novel but equally, or better, acted and structurally realized. Anchor Bay's Blu-ray release of Magic City: The Complete Second Season features top-end video and high quality audio. Disc three is dedicated to five brief featurettes. Worth a rental, though fans can purchase with confidence if the lack of bonus features isn't a deal breaker.
Magic City: Other Seasons
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Magic City: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Magic City: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray - August 22, 2013
Anchor Bay Entertainment has announced the Blu-ray release of Magic City: The Complete Second Season, which stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Danny Huston, Olga Kurylenko, Jessica Marais, Steven Strait, Christian Cooke, and Kelly Lynch, James Caan, Esai Morales, rapper ...
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