The first rule of Mr. Robot club is you don’t talk about Mr. Robot club.
Season 1 Review
One of the best new shows of late, the exceptional Mr. Robot blends Fight Club anti-consumerism with almost Kubrikian style and Carpenter-esque synth scoring, to great effect.Originally envisioned as a feature film, writer/creator Sam Esmail’s 10-episode first season has you hooked from the outset, charging head-first into the life of super-hacker Elliot Anderson (Rami Malek), who has a comparatively normal day-job at a cyber security firm, but spends his nights scouring the web to get to the truth about suspicious individuals who enter the lives of those he knows, and take them down if need be. His conspiratorial, anti-consumerism ethics see him drawn to a group of hacktivists led by the charismatic Mr. Robot (Christian Slater), who wants to change the face of the county by taking down the massive E-Corp (a thinly-veiled Apple), which happens to be the biggest client of the security firm that Elliot works for. But Elliot’s got his own problems – a supposedly under control morphine habit and a litany of psychological disorders which leave him feeling all the more alone in the world, and also leave him prone to delusions.With a protagonist whose internal monologue evokes Taxi Driver’s Travis Bickle and a villain who seems to aspire to be Patrick Bateman’s American Psycho, ultimately Mr. Robot owes the greatest debt to the aforementioned Fight Club. Its atypical style and setting, however, gives it an unusual flavour, with a striking visual flair that has a Kubrikian feel and is undoubtedly informed by the fact that the pilot was shot by the original (superior) Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Niels Arden Oplev, despite the fact that Esmail himself helms the majority of the rest of the episodes; as well as a highly unusual 80s synth-inspired score that mixes a Carpenter-esque vibe with more modern electronic beats to great effect and makes you feel like you’re watching some kind of sci-fi flick, and not an expertly crafted psychological drama. It’s this confluence of exceptional ingredients that, despite the overt referencing of several classic films, leaves Mr. Robot with a unique and compelling slant.
Picture QualityMr. Robot looks largely excellent on Blu-ray, promoting its first season with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. The moody, slightly colour-skewed look for the series offers a suitably tainted look at the streets of New York.
Universal’s presentation of Mr. Robot looks largely outstanding.
The often exceptionally framed, stylishly-shot series laps up the nuances of the sets and setting, from the more luxurious E-Corp locale to the clinical Allsafe environment, juxtaposed with the run-down arcade of the hacktivists. Detail is impressive, particularly on close-ups, with the digital image lapping up skin textures and background nuances, with only glimmers of banding and motion issues which prevent this from being a reference title but leave it largely demo-worthy nonetheless.
Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is exceptional, made infinitely greater by one of the best TV show scores of recent times.
Dialogue is promoted clearly and coherently throughout the series, not least Elliott’s ‘internal monologue’, which rises above the rest of the proceedings. Effects are mostly atmospheric, picking up the electronic hum of server farms, and the buzz of busy offices, hectic New York streets and tinny 80s arcade pings. There are few bombastic flourishes, although aural elements are well-prioritised where necessary and manage to consistently engulf you in an authentic environment. It’s the outstanding score which towers above the rest though; a contemporary 80s synth-styled offering which evokes everything from Carpenter to M83’s immersive Oblivion score, heightening the tension and challenging your pre-conceptions about the show too, often helping it rise to another level. Even non-80s-synth score flourishes – like orchestral pieces in Episode 2 – superbly blur the line between diegetic and non-diegetic music. Overall it’s a great aural accompaniment, easily demo quality and often nigh-on reference.
ExtrasA fairly limited selection of extras is dusted across the two discs, with a short but information-packing quarter-hour making-of, a few deleted scenes, and a gag reel.
Season 1 Blu-ray VerdictMr. Robot is an exceptional new TV drama, and the real question is whether or not it can keep up the intrigue beyond the scope of a single season.
There are few new TV dramas that offer this kind of quality scripting and story plotting right from the outset, and, given the twists and turns at the tail end of the first season, it will be interesting to see where they go next. It's utterly unmissable TV, though, and this UK Region Free Blu-ray is the perfect way to lap up every episode in quick succession. Pick it up NOW.
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