Arrow Season 5 Blu-ray Review
New Team Arrow
DC's oldest and strongest TV offering, the Batman-esque Arrow, tries to use fresh blood to liven up the familiar formula.Arrow is the DC TV universe's answer to Marvel's Iron Man films, with its success propelling DC into spinning off The Flash, then Legends of Tomorrow, and even drawing Supergirl into the fold. Indeed, five seasons in and the 100th episode crossover saw them all brought together, The Avengers-style, to defeat an alien big bad. In hindsight, nobody would have really expected it from this sub-Batman character, but it's ironic that – beyond his excellent animated series – Batman could only hope to have an enduring ongoing saga as rich and expansive as this (the theme of killing or not killing is superb). Unfortunately, as with all long term shows, the formula does get stale after a while, and even Arrow is not immune to this, with its Lost-esque flashbacks approaching new levels of incredulity as they misguidedly kept them going far beyond their worth (this latest season has a Dolph Lundgren-boosted Russian slant, and is hopefully the last).Stephen Amell's titular character, now juggling an above-board life as Major of Star City, is struggling to deal with the disbanding of his entire team (and loss of some members) at the end of the last season, and with new gang threats on the rise, decides to recruit a new team. Season 5 of Arrow takes a little bit of getting used to (for some, it's reminiscent of the season in House where he gets a brand new team of students), and the new teammates are frequently painful to endure, but Amell's Arrow remains a strong force, his opponents - the ongoing season villain Prometheus (whose reveal is contrived) and a few along the way, including the Punisher-esque Vigilante - are pretty solid, and the action is excellent, but the season takes longer than ever before to get going, and, ultimately, despite its highs, is only further evidence that Arrow needs to go solo for a spell.
Picture QualityArrow's fifth season continues the strong presentation that has been pretty consistent - both for good and bad - across the last four. Warner's Region Free UK Blu-ray release of this latest season promotes the series with a solid 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the show's original aired aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen.
A strong enough visual presentation
Although arguably not the prettiest of DC's shows – and perhaps the most gritty (even Gotham maintains a certain flashy style) – it offers up decent detail throughout the piece, picking up on skin textures and clothing weaves, as well as running with the brand new enhanced budget (which allows for plenty of meta-mayhem – one of the team now has special powers – as well as that spectacular crossover saga) and integrating that into the proceedings. The flashbacks are slightly less monochrome than the island-based ones from before, and the colours are still strong and vibrant in the present, with blacks sporadically suffering from hints of banding, fluctuating noise and a little softness, but generally proving capable considering their prevalence. Overall, it's a strong enough presentation, but not without qualification, and certainly not a top tier Warner/DC TV title when it comes to visuals.
Sound QualityArrow has always delivered on the aural front and Season 5 is no exception. The show boasts the most bullets of all its siblings and the most action, with plenty of power – and also precision – on offer this time around on its accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.
Not consistently demo, but the soundtrack has some great moments
Dialogue remains well-prioritised across the frontal array and, in spite of the propensity for the majority of characters in this show to either growl their words and/or deliver them through a voice modifier, comes across reasonably coherently throughout. The score remains the same mainstay theme that it has been from the get-go, with the same cues every time Arrow appears and, somehow, even 100 episodes on, it doesn't get tired. It's not quite a defining theme, a la Batman, but it's still a nice trademark for the show. Of course the highlight of the track comes in its delivery of the effects. Thunderous gunfire (particularly when Vigilante enters the fray) pounds your living room, carrying some tremendous LFE weight and offering a good sense of space across the array. It's not consistently demo through and through, but it certainly has some great moments.
ExtrasA slightly better-than-normal selection of extras
The fifth season of Arrow boasts a slightly better-than-normal selection of extras, perhaps due to its landmark 100th Episode, with a trio of decent Featurettes - 10 minutes with the new recruits; a quarter-hour looking at the Big Bad; and 12 minutes dedicated to that aforementioned 100th Episode. There's also the usual slew of throwaway Deleted Scenes (which really could be better serviced by extended episodes), a Gag Reel and a solid half-hour 2016 Comic Con segment.
Blu-ray VerdictUltimately, despite its highs, it's only further evidence that Arrow needs to go solo for a spell
Warner's Region Free UK Blu-ray release of the fifth season of Arrow boasts strong video and excellent audio, as well as a solid selection of extra features. It's neither the best Arrow season, nor a standout entry in the DC TV oeuvre, but it's remains a solid must-see for those following this particular franchise.
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