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Magic City: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

I think I was watching Spartacus: Vengeance on Blu-ray last month, when I had seen the first previews for Magic City: The Complete First Season. It took hold right then and there and I sent out a mass text to my fellow Why So Blu writers asking what the hell that was? It looked like a mesh of Mad Men and any other recent gangster flick combined. I made a request to review it and was blessed to have received the opportunity to do so. As is my custom with television shows and series – I dedicated an entire day to plowing through Magic City: The Complete First Season. It’s an 8-episode season, so it wouldn’t take me too long. Keep reading to see if it was worth my time.

Series 

I guess it was time to make a show that dealt with the mob set in the seedy, but glamorous world of Miami Beach, Florida, in the 1950’s. Magic City is that show. Ike Evans (Jefferey Dean Morgan) runs owns the Miramar Playa Hotel. Such prestigious figures like Frank Sinatra, the Kenndeys, the mob, and even the CIA all kick it at the Miramar at any given time. It almost has that “what ever happens at the Miramar Playa Hotel, stays at the Miramar Playa Hotel.” I am totally okay with that.

It’s not all umbrella drinks and rainbows for Ike, because his shadow business partner, Ben “The Butcher” Diamond, has helped Ike finance his dream of making the Miramar the premiere place to party in all of the United States. The Butcher wants more and as he so eloquently puts it to Ike: “More is never enough.”

Again, by my enthusiastic response to the trailer for the show, I knew it would be mine to review. It had to be. It also helped that the show featured a stellar cast of people that I enjoy seeing on the big and small screen. Jefferey Dean and Danny Huston, among others were the main draw. Ike and Ben’s next step is to grease the pockets of the local politicians in order to get them to legalize gambling in the state of Florida. Whether hooking up these powerful guests with influence will work or not is not really Ben’s concern. He’ll get his money or favors one way or another.

What will also complicate matters even more is that one of Ike’s sons named Stevie (Steven Strait)  is having an affair with The Butcher’s wife, Lily (Jessica Marais). If they get caught, well, they will both be skinned alive and fed to the sharks piece by piece. The Butcher will do this himself.

The lovely (damn hot) Olga Kurylenko is Ike’s wife aka known as the “Queen” of the Miramar, but she’s not just window dressing for the place. Beneath that lovely frame lies a strong, compassionate woman who has taken in Ike’s sons as her own, and whose charm also rivals Ike’s.

I love that the show is so ying and yang. Ike is the “good guy” and Ben is the “bad guy.” We get Ike, who is a family man, a business man, a religious man, but he deals in illegal activities. Ben is a charming business man, as well, but he is also an important pillar of society. Unlike Ike, he wears “evil” on his sleeve. His explosions into anger and madness are a true highlight of the show, because just as fast as he turns on someone, he’s their sweet friend the next. I’ve always liked those kind of characters and believe that Huston has nailed it with his performance as The Butcher.

As I said before, Magic City is only 8-episodes, but there will be a second season to come in 2013. I can’t wait!

Episodes

The Year of the Fin

Feeding Frenzy

Castles Made of Sand

Atonement

Suicide Blonde

The Harder They Fall

Who’s the Horse and Who’s the Rider?

Time and Tide

Video 

Magic City: The Complete First Season is presented in 1080p, 1.78:1 widescreen. This should be a quick write up in that the picture quality, pros and cons, can easily be addressed. Flesh tones are exquisite, even on fair skin, out in the Miami sun. Details are sublime. You can see everyone’s pores! The color palette truly shines as the 50’s model cars come through in all their pristine cherry goodness. The women, too. Wink. Black levels remain steady, without hints of crush, and edge enhancement didn’t ruin the picture. The only noticeable drawback would have to be the slight DNR and softness that is prevalent in all of the cgi sequences – mainly in the water. Noise is also a problem in those scenes. In any event, Magic City looks fabulous.

Audio 

Magic City: The Complete First Season is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. lossless surround sound. It’s a very fitting soundtrack all things considered. You’ve got various themes that intersect one another that the music and sound effects segue the experience from one scene to the next. Dialogue is clean, clear, and centered. The LFE only wakes up during the more intense scenes of action, which there are a few, and during the more dynamic musical performances. The surround sound channels handle the Miami nightlife without fail. From voices, musical cues. to the insect life (it is humid as hell Miami), you’ll be very pleased at how it all comes together on this 5.1 lossless surround track.

Extras 

Magic City: The Complete First Season should be fully loaded with special features and commentaries, but has neither. What is included, and adds up to roughly 30-minutes of supplements, are various fluff pieces on the making of the show. These clips are really short – some as short as 2-minutes. Why? The longest one is about 12-minutes long, but is the main fluff featurette telling us why the show is great and what not. There should be more substance to these supplements. The show deserves it.

  • Starz Studios: Magic City
  • The Cars of Magic City
  • The Style of Magic City
  • Building An Empire
  • The Golden Age of Music
  • Miami Beach: The Real Magic City

Summary 

Magic City is definitely an entertaining series – it’s like Mad Men and Casino rolled into one. The cast sizzles in their classy outfits and spectacular surroundings all the while navigating through a pretty seedy underbelly of crime and politics. The season is really short, at eight episodes, and I believe season two will premiere in 2013. The Blu-ray features above average video and audio specs, but very mediocre special features. Give it a whirl.

 

 

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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