Smallville: The Complete Tenth Season Blu-ray delivers stunning video and audio in this enjoyable Blu-ray release
In Smallville's tenth and final season, Clark Kent abandons his alter ego, the Blur, to become DC Comics' most iconic hero: Superman.
For more about Smallville: The Complete Tenth Season and the Smallville: The Complete Tenth Season Blu-ray release, see Smallville: The Complete Tenth Season Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on November 28, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Smallville has been patiently biding its time, banking on its finale for ten years now. Brazenly (some might say stubbornly) saving up the best for last: the glasses, the alter ego, the iconic red cape, the "up in the sky" in "Look, up in the sky! It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Superman!" And here it is, after ten seasons, the final hurrah of the unsure, insecure Clark Kent and the rise of the Man of Steel. So why does it feel like just another season? A strong season, I'll admit, but up until its grand finale (and, to an extent, even then), Smallville seems content on going out with a wink, a grin and a lingering sense that very little actually happened over the course of its twenty-two episode end run. Darkseid is a tease. Oliver Queen is wasted. Chloe disappears for half the season. None of Superman's foes manage to out-muscle Season Nine's Zod (except Zod himself, who returns for a single episode). Lex's absence remains now, more than ever, a devastating blow to the series. Villain-of-the-week misfires still fizzle. And the DC cameo of the season award goes to... Booster Gold? Yep, Gotham's billionaire vigilante and Themyscira's feisty Amazon barely earn a passing mention, and the Lantern Corps' hotshot pilot doesn't even get that. (Unless I missed an offhand quip somewhere along the way.) Don't get me wrong, there's still plenty of meaty comicbook goodness (and goofiness) for fans to feast on. It's just not very filling.
You know you want to sing it. "Somebody saaaaave meeee!"
Clark Kent (Tom Welling) has come a long way since high school. The quaint, meteor-peppered days of his small town adolescence seem like distant memories and the bustling metropolis of DC Comics' glistening Metropolis has become his home. His powers have almost fully been realized, his purpose almost entirely defined, and his love for Lois Lane (Erica Durance) almost completely sealed. But even after nine seasons of slow, steady affirmations, Clark has yet to embrace his fate, doesn't seem sure of anything, and has developed a mean streak of Skywalker self-pity. It's hard not to complain too, especially when the Boy in Blue retreats, again and again and again, from the prospect of being the true hero he's obviously destined to be. The uncertainty schtick has certainly run its course; to the point it's grown stale. Season Ten, to its detriment, doesn't deal with any of it head on either. Instead, its showrunners wait until the finale and cram everything they can into Smallville's two-part endgame. Before that, it's business as usual. Darkseid's presence is spotty at best and the Big Bad himself doesn't show up until the sun is setting on the series. Militaristic zealots and possessed minions chew scenery but don't really register. And dear, dear Clark is reluctant, racked with double-daddy issues, and hesitant to step into the public spotlight. Smallville goes out with a bang when it could have opened with one... followed by twenty-one more.
Even at its worst, though, the tenth season is merely uneven. It rarely fails or falters outright; in fact, it stands as one of the more solid seasons of the show. It delivers -- several times -- it just delivers in single-serving doses. Clark and Lois return to Smallville for Kent's high school reunion, only to have a reunion with Braniac (James Marsters) instead. Oliver (Justin Hartley) comes out of the superhero closet, a decision that leads to more trouble than he initially anticipated. Clark tries to impress Lois' father (Michael Ironside), but finds it difficult to deal with the general's anti-vigilante stance. Tess (Cassidy Freeman) learns more about her Luthor heritage and her connection to a mysterious woman known as Granny Goodness (Christine Willes), a herald of Darkseid. Aquaman (Alan Ritchson) is front and center in a surprisingly entertaining episode. Lex Luthor's clone, Alexander (Lucas Grabeel), drives the season's best arc (complete with a twist everyone who's ever picked up a DC Comic should have seen coming but didn't). Clark and Lois try to tie the knot (to disastrous results) and Oliver and Chloe (Allison Mack, sadly in a reduced role) struggle to come to terms with one another. Meanwhile, Booster Gold (Eric Martsolf) and Blue Beetle (Jaren Brandt Bartlett) blast it out, Zod (Callum Blue) makes a (much-too-brief) reappearance, and an alternate-universe Lionel Luther (John Glover) takes up residence in Clark's reality. And Lex (Michael Rosenbaum)? Well, you'll just have to watch Season Ten to see if Rosenbaum mans up and slips on a bald cap for old time's sake.
That said, the misses of the hit-or-miss tenth season miss as notably (albeit less frequently) as its hits connect. Entire episodes are squandered -- Lois' body is commandeered by a vengeful Egyptian goddess in "Isis," Clark and Lois face off against radiated townsfolk in "Harvest," another Smallville serial killer is on the loose in "Masquerade," an enchanted gift from Zatanna transforms the series into a PG-rated version of The Hangover, and Lois and Clark swap powers and non-powers for a day in "Fortune" -- and the larger DC universe is set aside to make room for quick-hit easter eggs, character cameos and references that will soar over the heads of all but the most diligent DC Comics readers. It doesn't help that the show's best actors -- Durance, Mack, Hartley, Blue, Freeman, Glover, John Schneider, Alessandro Juliani and others -- are often flanked by overreaching bit players and typecast guest stars. To his credit, Welling holds his own... one-note as the bounding boyscout in blue sometimes is, overshadowed as the leading man tends to be, and outshined by his castmates as he typically is. Smallville's Clark Kent, clumsy or extraordinary, is still a touch too flat and two-dimensional for my tastes, but those who've professed their love from the beginning will be moved to tears by the culmination of Clark's ten-season arc, Welling's seasoned performance, and the consummation of Smallville's long-brewing themes. (Particularly when Clark confronts not one but three different fathers in an emotional finale that's almost worthy of Superman's legacy.) As always, the show's sub-modest budget is the Man of Steel's greatest enemy; its recurring characters and cast members are the series' greatest assets.
If you're a longtime Smallville fan, though, you're accustomed to overlooking the occasional TV-tainted hitch. After all, these same hitches have been cramping Clark's style for ten years now. (Far more than that if you lump in Lois & Clark and some of Superman's other less-than-ideal small-screen superheroics.) Aimless episodes and pudgy FX come and go. It's the storytelling that matters, and the Smallville showrunners and writers have continued to churn out a stream of comicbook clashes, superpowered histrionics, sneering intergalactic sadists, and flashy end-of-the-world near-misses, most of which aim for conflict over camp. Season Ten disappoints now and again, but it brings Clark's story to a fitting close and ties in nicely to everything from Richard Donner's Superman: The Movie to the comics, new and old, than inspired the show. If nothing else, the tenth season will leave fans wishing there were more episodes to be had, more tall buildings to be leapt in a single bound, more villains to be fought, more heroes to be met, more evil plots to be thwarted, and more lives to be saved. More, more, more.
If you can look past the presentation's inherent issues -- the errant inconsistencies and occasional anomalies that beat and batter some of Season Ten's visual effects sequences into submission -- Warner's 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer bests its Smallville predecessors and looks every bit as good as it should. The tenth season may be darker and starker than previous seasons, but colors remain bright and bold, primaries hit with tremendous force, black levels are deep and ominous, and contrast never disappoints. There are a few soft shots lying in wait for our hero, but none that should be attributed to a faulty encode. Detail is nothing less than striking, with plenty of razor-sharp textures, refined closeups, crisply defined edges, and well-delineated shadows to be had. "Dominion" is particularly stunning, and solidifies the tenth season Blu-ray's place at the head of the high definition Smallville table. I noticed a few seemingly random bursts of artifacting and banding over the course of its four BD-50 discs and twenty-two episodes, but none of it is especially significant or troubling. And nothing else comes close to nicking the presentation. Aliasing, noise, crush and other mishaps don't pop up, and The Complete Tenth Season ends as strongly as it begins. Fans will be more than pleased with the results.
Warner's Tenth Season Blu-ray release marks the series' first foray into lossless audio, and it's a spectacular one. Relatively speaking anyway. Smallville is the same modestly budgeted superhero show it's always been and its sound design follows suit, although I will say the series doesn't sound as if it's been generated on a dime and a prayer. Its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track hits, hits hard and takes full advantage of every shot it gets. Dialogue is clean and clear, without any lines being sacrificed to the LFE-primed superheroics and enveloping soundfield. The LFE channel throws its weight behind every blow, explosion, roaring energy blast and rapidly approaching fire planet, and the rear speakers turn everything from the Fortress of Solitude caverns to the Daily Planet offices, the Smallville wheat fields, and the desolate wastelands of the Phantom Zone into (reasonably) convincing environments. Effects are a bit punchy by design and dynamics are a tad temperamental (almost by default), but directionality is impressive, pans are faster than a speeding bullet, and the entire experience infuses some welcome oomph into every clash of the titans at Season Ten's disposal. It not only represents Smallville's best audio offering to date, it soars. Up, up and away.
Audio Commentaries: Two commentaries barely scratch the twenty-two episode surface of Smallville's tenth and final season. Casual fans will appreciate what little they're given, but diehards will feel overlooked and underwhelmed. Commentaries include "Lazarus" with writer/producers Holly Henderson and Don Whitehead and actors Allison Mack and Cassidy Freeman, and "Dominion" with executive producers Brian Peterson and Kelly Souders, actor/episode director Justin Hartley and actor Callum Blue. For whatever reason, though, the series finale is untouched and unexplored.
Back in the Jacket: A Smallville Homecoming (HD, 20 minutes): Clark returns to Smallville (with Smallville in tow) as the cast and crew discuss the series, its themes, its larger story arc, its characters and, above all, "Reunion," the tenth season high school reunion episode that delves into each one.
The Son Becomes the Father (HD, 17 minutes): A look at Smallville's father/son relationships -- Kal-El and Jor-El, Clark and Jonathan Kent, and Lex and Lionel Luther -- and their evolution over the course of the show's 200-plus episodes. It's the best feature on the disc but, once again, the finale and the season's status as the series' last aren't given the attention or the coverage both deserve.
Deleted Scenes (SD, 4 minutes): A short, undeniably disappointing collection of brief blips, smart cuts and deleted trivialities. Scenes are available for "Shield," "Supergirl," "Abandoned," "Beacon" and "Scion."
Music Video (SD, 4 minutes): Swank's "How Do We Do" via actors Cassidy Freeman and Alessandro Juliani.
Smallville's tenth season doesn't land every punch and doesn't save every day, but as endgame's go, it brings the series' take on the Superman mythos to a satisfying close and gives fans a strong finale worthy of their ten-year investment. Warner's 4-disc Blu-ray release is even better, though. Its special features don't amount to much, but its video presentation and lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track leave nothing to chance, and shouldn't leave any fan wanting. The Blu-ray edition of The Complete Tenth Season isn't The Complete Series box set some have been dreaming of, but it stands as the best high definition Smallville release on the market. If you already own the first nine seasons of the series, purchasing this 4-disc set is the easiest decision you'll make all week.
This November, Warner Home Entertainment will release Smallville: The Complete Tenth Season on Blu-ray. The last season of the cult CW television program, this season of Smallville finds young Clark Kent (Tom Welling, The Fog) undergoing a final struggle to realize ...
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