Sunday, September 14, 2014

Supernatural: The Complete Ninth Season Blu-ray Review

The exhilarating and terrifying journey of the Winchester brothers continues as Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group delivers the ninth season of Supernatural on Blu-ray. How do you deal with a fallout of heavenly proportions? With the angelic Host’s descent to Earth, Sam and Dean are now facing a world inhabited by thousands of powerful beings, who soon form their own chaotic agendas. Before tackling the threat of the “loose nukes” roaming the globe, however, the Winchesters engage in their most personal conflict yet. Meanwhile, Castiel finds he’s more vulnerable – and yet capable of more humanity – than ever. As the threat escalates, a way must be found to reopen the gates of Heaven and head off a demon insurrection in Hell. The whole time, darkness leaves its mark on Dean, but has he finally crossed the line to protect his family? The excitement of this 23-episode ninth season is positively epic.

Show (4 out of 5 stars)
The Road So Far….Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) and older brother Dean (Jensen Ackles) are hunters of all things supernatural. Sometimes that means ghosts, sometimes demons, occasionally vampires, and they’ve been known to tangle with a werewolf or two. Season nine is all about the angels and the demons storyline with a few standalone episodes in the mix. At the end of season eight, the Winchesters had the chance to close the gates to hell but didn’t choosing family over the greater good.

Now….season nine begins with Sam in a hospital bed and Dean learning there is no hope of saving him. As you’d expect, Dean refuses to accept no for an answer praying to Castiel and then anyone/anything that will listen when Castiel doesn’t respond. Metatron (Curtis Armstrong) is trying to take over heaven (and maybe earth too) and as a result, the angels have fallen. Sam and Dean are seeing these fallen angels cause all kinds of problems. Some are lost, some are angry, and many are banding together in factions with different agendas. Castiel (Misha Collins) finds himself vulnerable and at times, human. 

While everyone works to re-open the gates of Heaven, Abaddon (Alaina Huffman) attempts to take over Hell and oust the current king, Crowley (Mark Sheppard). In order to kill the indestructible Abaddon, Dean locates Cain and the first blade. Cain must transfer the mark of Cain to Dean in order for the blade to work. The mark is very powerful and begins to change Dean. By the end of the season, the mark will become even more important than anyone realized.

The Men of Letters bunker is still the homebase for the Winchesters – with Dean settling into to his new home, and Sam refusing the idea of home. For Sam it’s a workplace where he happens to sleep. The bunker’s dungeon has a full time resident, Crowley, who is held captive by the Winchesters for much of this season. The final occupant of the bunker is prophet Kevin Tran, who works hard translating and doing research to help the fight against evil. Although the bunker is supposed to be warded from everything, the Wicked Witch attacks from within in an episode with elements from the Wizard of Oz. Many fans will be glad to see the return of Charlie (Felicia Day) in the same episode.

One of my favorite episodes of past seasons involved Dean being afraid of a small puppy. This season, one of my favorite episodes involves him becoming a canine detective. We learn a lot more about Crowley, including his past, his family and his addictions. We also get to see Castiel (aka Cass) in many new lights. He loses the trench coat for a bit, gets a job at a gas station convenience store and is given the knowledge of books and movies. Still, his pop culture references, come out with very unique phrasing and are very Cass-like.

Season nine, is very dramatic for all parties involved. For much of the season, Sam is dying or being lied to by Dean (to save his life). The brother’s relationship is beyond strained as there is less of the lighthearted joking and fun they used to have during their hunts. The hunts are less about an isolated incident in a small town, and are more global, biblical catastrophes. This season is definitely not as fun as previous seasons as the Winchesters have the weight of the world on their shoulders.

There is definitely a lot going on with Supernatural but the show is well written and it all works. I have yet to get tired of the show, or ever consider giving up on it. I do watch some shows that leave me wondering if it’s really worth the time. With Supernatural I’m happy to follow Sam and Dean on all their journeys. If you aren’t a fan of the show, nothing about season nine is going to turn you. If you love watching Sam and Dean Winchester in all that they do, this season offers quite a ride. Having seen Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki in person at Comic-Con they are two fun guys who clearly enjoy working together even with the darkest of material. New fan favorite Misha Collins has a big part in this season. Watching the Comic Con Panel you do have to get used to his normal speaking voice, without the batman-like growl. I definitely recommend purchasing the Blu-ray for fans of the show. If you think you might become a fan, I recommend starting back at season one if you can. Either way, I would hurry to be ready for the season ten premiere in October.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)
Supernatural: The Complete Ninth Season is presented on Blu-ray in 1080p high definition with a 16x9 1.78:1 ratio. The show is often visually very dark but detail and clarity are excellent in these circumstances. Textures in clothing and even stubble are noteworthy. The color palette offers a wide range of the most depressing hues, but also shines when anyone does make it outdoors in the sunlight. Reds for blood from a fresh wound or blood drained in a bowl to make a demon phone call are varied and add to the authenticity of the events.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
The English 5.1 Dolby Digital Master Audio track offers great clarity and range. The dialogue, in Castiel’s batman-like whispers or during an intense fight between the Winchesters, is always intelligible. The peripherals, backgrounds and environmental additions make this a well developed and full bodied audio offering that I hope to hear in 7.1 future seasons.
Extras (4 out of 5 stars) 
The Blu-ray discs contain a good mix of special features, which are easy to find and access. I appreciate the summary listed so you know what you’re in for, including the length of the feature before you get started.

Disc One
  • Comic-Con Panel (28:51) – The 2013 Supernatural Comic-Con Panel which was held in Hall H (the big room) featuring The Executive Producer, Show Runner and actors Jared Padalecki, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard and Felicia Day. Includes questions from the audience with text on screen instead of the actual audience member asking the questions.
Disc Three
  • Audio Commentary – “Blade Runners” with Writer/Producer Brad Buckner, Writer/Producer Eugenie Ross-Leming and Actor Mark A. Sheppard and “Mother’s Little Helper” with Actor/Director Misha Collins and Writer Adam Glass.
Disc Four
  • Behind the Scenes of Supernatural: A Fan’s Perspective (18:26) – Misha Collins hosts a behind the scenes tour and “mockumentary”.
  • Audio Commentary – “Bloodlines” with Executive Producer/Director Bob Singer, Writer Andrew Dabb and Executive Producer Jeremy Carver.
  • The Men of Letters Interactive Set Experience – An interactive menu which allows viewers to access featurettes hidden within the Men of Letters’ bunker.
  • Gag Reel (8:28) – Laughs, bloopers and jokes from the cast and crew.
Summary (4 out of 5 stars)
Supernatural: The Complete Ninth Season looks and sounds good on Blu ray, and has a good mix of special features. Having recently watched a few other Warner Bros. Blu-ray releases of CW shows, I like the way they set up a Blu-ray. From any disc you can see what is available on all the other discs. Some Blu-rays get so complicated with the way they lay the information out for you that it’s easy to miss something. I don’t mind a static photo for a menu as long as I can find what I’m looking for and easily decide when to watch it (after the episodes from each disc or at the end of the season for a good recap). The show is very complicated and there has been a lot of history established over nine seasons. With less stand alone random creature episodes, it’s even more important to understand the past. Although they do give you a bit of info about the road so far it’s easy for even a big fan to forget what’s happened from season to season. If you can’t start over and watch from season one each year, I recommend starting with the previous season’s finale and then beginning the new season.

Order your copy today!

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