Agent Carter Season 2 Blu-ray Review
Season 2 Review
Whilst Agent Carter, the short-lived Marvel prequel series, goes out with less of a bang and more of a whimper, at least it does so in glamorous 40s Hollywood style.The period after Captain America got frozen in ice and the love of his life, Peggy Carter, was left to deal with the aftermath - eventually working with Tony Stark's visionary father, Howard, towards the entity which would later be known as S.H.I.E.L.D. - was rich for mining. It was perfectly captured in Agent Carter, with returning actress Hayley Atwell bringing Peggy's no-nonsense heroine to life in this antiquated sexist environment, stepping up to the plate for a series of outlandish adventures that often had a steampunk flavour to the technology being wielded, and that maintained a welcome sense of classic derring-do requisite for this kind of vintage tale. Unfortunately, the viewing figures saw the short first series barely renewed for a slightly longer second one, itself swiftly abandoned when viewing failed to improve. There's much to appreciate with all the things that Agent Carter gets right, from the period settling to the strong lead from the perfectly chosen Hayley Atwel, but it's clear something didn't quite go right too.Perhaps the sense of inevitability to the lives and ultimate goals of these individuals and organisations was simply not enough to maintain a sense of intrigue and tension. Carter, herself, given her presence in the latter MCU films, could never quite be in 'real' danger, and her office politics and the repeated rebukes of her seniors were of limited interest when we know, eventually, where her ambitions will take her. Still, it's not the first time that a prequel series has evolved in a way that still generates a tangible air of mystery - even when there logically isn't one - and Carter certainly tried its hardest to subsist on this, persisting through an equally glamorous (if not moreso given its transfer from NY to LA) second season which spends a little too long focused on Carter's love-life (although, I guess, there is at least genuine mystery there) and relying on James D'Arcy's sidekick Jarvis to make her escapades a little more diverting. It's a shame; it probably could have gone places, but never really had the chance to.
Picture QualityAgent Carter Season 2 reaches UK Region Free Blu-ray in a Zavvi steelbook package complete with a very slick1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation framed in its original production ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. Despite not quite boasting the same budgetary clout as the first season, the more glamorous West Coast locations allow for an equally - if not even more - impressive visual offering, whilst delivering the same excellent production standards you would only expect from the Marvel universe.
Matching up to its Marvel heritage, Carter entirely escapes its budgetary restrictions to remain as polished and stylish as you would expect from the monolithic franchise. Maintaining a surprisingly authentic period tone - in no small part thanks to a slight soft-focus sheen that pervades the piece - detail remains superior throughout, with strong clarity evident in every corner. The colour scheme is broad and boasts vivid, vibrant tones, as well as some rich wood backgrounds furthering the 40s setting. With strong black levels and no significant interference from digital defects, it's very impressive and fits in well within the Marvel oeuvre.
It may not be quite up to the demo standards of the MCU, but it's a good presentation nonetheless
The authentic period tone remains in place, complete with that near soft-focus sheen designed to maintain a suitably vintage piece, but it does not detract from the detail level and clarity on offer, with a rich environment ripe for mining. The colour scheme is bolstered by these rich tones and looks lavish and deep, with strong black levels to bolster them. It may not be quite up to the demo standards of Marvel's cinematic work, but it's a very good presentation nonetheless.
Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also does a solid job with the material, which has a fair few nice steampunk-esque moments of before-its-time technology to expand the effects offering.
Agent Carter remains visually and aurally in-line with the rest of the universe
Dialogue is promoted front and centre, remaining clear and coherent throughout, and rising above the remaining elements. The period score manages to further the authentic feel to the piece, whilst also accentuating the tension and more action-driven sequences, delivering further fuel for the surrounds. Effects carry some reasonable weight, despite the limitations of the production, offering up both environmental atmospherics for a near-constant ambience, and also some more punchy nods during the more boisterous moments. Despite the budget, Agent Carter remains visually and aurally in-line with the rest of the universe.
Steelbook ExtrasDistinctly lacking on the extras front - once again limited to just a gag reel as per the first season's UK release - at least we get another impressive Steelbook package to make up for it somewhat.
Lacking extras, at least we get another impressive Steelbook
Again, whilst the Steelbook matches up to its predecessor, boasting another distinctive, almost iconic shot of Carter on the front cover, complete with a debossed title and some rich colours and design-work, there is an equally frustrating rear cover.
Blu-ray VerdictIt's a shame; Agent Carter probably could have gone places, but never really had the chance to
As Agent Carter winds down to an abrupt-ish end, at least it gets a decent send-off on this steelbook Blu-ray release, if not with a good selection of extras, then certainly in terms of video, audio and steelbook (front cover) design.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
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