Friday, August 19, 2011

Entourage – The Complete Seventh Season Blu-ray Review

Hollywood hasn’t been the same since Vince and his entourage came to town. Experience the wild celebrity lifestyle and true bonds of friendship when the seventh season of the Emmy, Golden Globe and Peabody award-winning comedy series Entourage hits store shelves, just weeks before the show’s final season premiere.  Entourage: The Complete Seventh Season is now available on DVD and Blu-ray and the season contains all ten episodes along with extensive bonus features in a two-disc set.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

Entourage tells the story of a group of friends and their journey through Hollywood life.  Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) is the only one of them that is an actual star.  With the start of season seven, Vinnie is starring in a new action movie called The Takeover which is being directed by Nick Cassavetes (who appears on the show as himself). Cassavetes wants Vinnie to perform his own stunt for a dangerous car jump to make it more real for viewers.  Vinnie agrees to it reluctantly, but asks his manager Eric “E” (Kevin Connolly) to get him out of it.  Vinnie’s agent Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) also doesn’t want Vinnie to do the stunt but after hearing that his friends thought he was a “pussy,” Vinnie decided to do the stunt which goes awry when he crashes the car into a wall.  Miraculously, Vinnie isn’t hurt, but the experience has adrenalized him and he starts to crave intense experiences which makes it even harder to control him.
Vinnie isn’t the only one with problems since Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) who was once a slacker is now an earnest business man who run a shuttle service catered to men as the drivers are hired for their beauty.  These girls don’t come cheap and the business isn’t doing as well as he needs it too.  Matters aren’t helped that the driver that he is attracted to is terrible at her job and it gets even worse when he tries to kiss her.  Vinnie’s brother Johnny “Drama” Chase is also struggling since he’s determined to have an acting career as successful as Vinnie’s and he pushes Vinnie to help him out which Vinnie happily does by ordering Eric to find a part for Drama even if it means he has to read new scripts to find one.
Ari has issues of his own making since the cost of his rise to power is about due.  He’s abusive to his employees which leads to some betrayals for this season as some former employees are looking for revenge.  Ari’s marriage is also in trouble since he puts his job before his wife and family which has gotten even worse due to his attempts to convince Jerry Jones to bring an NFL team to Los Angeles.  When tapes of his abusive behavior are leaked to the media, things get a lot worse for Ari as everything he values is now in jeopardy.  For Eric, life is really good as he is about to  be married and he loves his job.  Things get worse for him when his associate Scott Lavin (Scott Caan), insinuates himself into Vinnie’s life and pushes him to take more and more risks.  Their rivalry and their different ideas of what’s best for Vinnie play a big part of how this season ends.
The additional cast members include Rex Lee as Ari’s harried assistant Lloyd; Debi Mazar as Vince’s publicist Shauna; Carla Gugino as Ari’s nemesis Amanda; Emmanuelle Chriqui as Eric’s ex-girlfriend Sloan; Gary Cole as Ari’s embattled colleague and Beverly D’Angelo as Ari’s partner Babs.  Other guests this season (some portraying themselves) include John Cleese, Nick Cassavetes, Jonathan Keltz, Stan Lee, Maria Menounos, Bob Saget, Jessica Simpson, Aaron Sorkin, John Stamos, Mike Tyson, Mark Cuban, Eminem, Christina Aguilera, Minka Kelly, Drew Brees, Ryan Howard, Autumn Reeser and more.  Despite this season being a lot darker than previous seasons (especially with Vinnie’s new drug problems), this is still a fun show to watch and it’s always great to see so many guest stars on the show.

Video (4 out of 5 stars) 

The show’s 1080p transfer looks pretty good (which isn’t surprising since this is from HBO) and whatever small complaints I have could easily be attributed to a creative decision.  The picture quality is sharp but there is a layer of grain from the 355mm source which gives it a film-like feel to it.  It’s never to the point of distracting  but it is there. Flesh tones are natural and consistent but a tad warm which is fine since we are talking about celebrity life in Los Angeles.  Black levels are mostly good with only a few occasional shots with noise.  Overall, this is a nice transfer that captures the warm environment of L.A.

Audio (4 out of 5 stars) 

Entourage’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is also excellent with a lively mix that is well balanced between the dialogue and the ever present music in the show.  This is primarily a front speaker mix which is acceptable since this is a mostly dialogue driven show, but there’s also some nice ambiance across the channels and some nice panning and directionality as well.  While I would have liked to have the rear channels get some more action, this is still a good mix.  The dialogue is clear, the music sounds great, and I think the fans of the show will be pleased.

Special Features (3 out of 5 stars) 

This set is pretty light on extras but they are in high definition and the audio commentaries are very funny.
  • Audio Commentaries – There’s three hilarious audio commentaries with creator/executive producer Doug Ellin, executive producer Ally Musika, Adrian Grenier (Vince), Kevin Connolly (Eric), Jerry Ferrara (Turtle) and Jeremy Piven (Ari).  They don’t stay on topic but they sure are  funny since they spend their time joking, making fun of each other, and talking about the behind the scenes stuff that’s very funny.  This is the best extra on the disc and I highly recommend listening to these guys having a great time.
  • Inside the Hollywood Highlife – A talk with the cast and crew about the show and this season’s story-line.  While this featurette is interesting, it isn’t as in depth as I would have liked and it goes by pretty quick.
  • The Shades of Sasha Grey – The porn actress talks about her transition back and forth between working in the adult film industry and Hollywood.  If you are interested in her then you will probably enjoy this extra.

Final Thoughts (3 1/2 out of 5 stars) 

This show is kind of like eating Pringles to me since it’s hard to just watch one episode at a time.  The show is fun and has an accelerated rhythm to it that makes it easy to just keep watching one after another.  Watching the show on Blu-ray is the way to watch it since you can watch all the episodes you want and it looks and sounds better than it does when it’s broadcast.  I jut hope the upcoming eighth and final season is a lot lighter and more like the earlier seasons than this one!
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