House of Cards - The Final Season Blu-ray Review
"I know, you want to know what really happened to him. A man like Francis doesn't just die. That would be... what's the word? Convenient."
House of Cards - The Final Season Review
Does House of Cards finally collapse following Kevin Spacey's infamous departure?Although it's easy to write off the impressive Netflix Original production House of Cards just because it was basically Kevin Spacey's House of Cards, and without Spacey's Machiavellian manipulator, Frank Underwood, it ostensibly makes about as much sense as Lethal Weapon without Martin Riggs. But House of Cards has been building to something over the last five seasons, with the rise of Frank to become President, inevitably destined to result in his magnificent fall - or, at least, as was suggested, faked fall to be reborn as something greater than a mere President. Despite Spacey's much-publicised fall from grace, the transition to a series without the legendary Frank Underwood isn't all that contrived, with the sixth season on a strong footing right from the outset. The trouble is, judging it on its own merits, it can't help but feel like something is missing - and this is less about the loss of Spacey's Frank and more about the shortcomings of Robin Wright's President Claire Underwood.
Wright was exceptional in the show over the last five seasons, easily matching up to Spacey's ruthless husband with her own style, grace and strength. She could stand up to him, stand up to anybody - even those Frank couldn't handle - and could manipulate (and kill) as coldly as her husband ever could. But they were a great team, and what's lacking is not Spacey, but somebody for Wright's Claire to collaborate with, scheme with, and fight with. She's one half of a conjoint union, and however tough she comes across, she feels incomplete without someone - even a lesser, supporting player - at her side.
There's something self-defeating about pitching Wright as the centrepiece and, in the same breath, announcing that she's gone in 8 episodes
Season 6 - the Final Season (and there's something self-defeating about pitching Robin Wright as the centrepiece of the show and, in the same breath, announcing that - good or bad - she's going to be gone in just 8 episodes) - spends altogether too long dwelling in the vast shadow of Frank Underwood. Not of Kevin Spacey, but of Frank Underwood, with Claire's primary battles coming from the contrived appearance of 'old friends' who want debts owed by Frank to be paid by his newly empowered wife. House of Cards enlists big names to help sell its swan song, with Diane Lane and Grey Kinnear rising to want their pound of (dead) flesh, but their presence is more jarring than threatening, as if they were old characters from a season that viewers missed, when they are patently new additions drafted in to fill a void.
However there's altogether too much Frank Underwood left to muddy the waters, and Wright's President is left adrift dealing with such plot lines, unconvincing as someone quite so naturally manipulative but - more importantly - unable to make her own mark. The character simply isn't given the opportunity, and Wright (particularly now she's involved in directing episodes, which she's been doing for a while now) should have made this a priority if she wanted to stand a chance of stepping out of Frank's - and Spacey's - shadow.
House of Cards - The Final Season Blu-ray PictureSony's UK Blu-ray release of the Final Season of Netflix's flagship show House of Cards affords the show an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the series' original airing aspect ratio of 2.00:1 widescreen.
An excellent presentation
Detail is superb, with the digitally shot feature promoting superior nuances, fine textures on clothing and on the immaculate hair and makeup adorning these political celebrities, and the perfected wood-and-stone backdrop affording rich backgrounds to the events. The colour scheme delivers rich tones, and inky blacks - sure it only offers up a few primary pops, but Presidential blue abounds, and it's a very nice looking show indeed.
House of Cards - The Final Season Blu-ray SoundSony's House of Cards Blu-ray releases have always delivered on the aural front, although they have always had great material to work with - right from the opening title track with its haunting, sweeping tones, the show has hardly skimped on the bass and frequently favoured enveloping you despite the ostensibly limited nature of the actual political drama.
A very strong track
Dialogue remains firmly prioritised throughout, delivered clearly and coherently across the piece, whilst sporadic moments involving bustling crowds, press audiences, or even the occasional gunshot ring true. It's a very strong and reasonably nuanced track, which really excels when it comes to the score, which is easily the highlight of this audio offering, expanding out across the array, drawing in the LFE channel and underpinning this whole affair.
House of Cards - The Final Season Blu-ray ExtrasAs is the case for all the Sony House of Cards releases, the extras are limited to non-existent - here the latter.
House of Cards - The Final Season Blu-ray VerdictThe season does get going 3-4 episodes in, but you can't help but feel that they wasted those episodes getting there, giving just 3-4 more proper quality episodes before the show makes its end run and the bodies mount up in satisfying but unusually overwrought style, rounding out a final season which had a hard - arguably impossible - task delivering a conclusion to six years of manipulations, let alone doing it without the lynchpin of House of Cards, Frank Underwood. Fans will find this utterly unmissable - impossible to resist getting those last final answers - even if House of Cards was never as good as during its earliest, hungriest, seasons, and even if life in the shadow of Frank just isn't quite the same.
Fans will need this set to complete their collection
Sony's UK Blu-ray release of the Final Season of House of Cards affords it excellent video and strong audio, and the same dearth of extras that is likely more a reflection of it being a Netflix show than any inherent shortcomings on Sony's side. Fans will need this set to complete their collection.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £34.99
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