Quantcast

Vikings – The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Review)

Vikings - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Review)I heard about this series when it first started and I had kinda written it off as just another Game of Thrones knock off.  So I never really gave it the time of day.  But it has TURLY surpassed my expectations!

This season follows Ragnar Lothbrok who has since taken the throne of King of his Viking tribe.  With his new duties he must venture to Wessex, England to negotiate land for his people from King Ecbert.  In exchange for this land, Ecbert requires that Ragnar and his raiding party, or small army, lead a campaign for the Princess Kwenthrith that would dethrone her uncle and brother who currently rule the land of Mercia.  But there is a growing dissent among Ragnar’s people.  They are worried that he is throwing away the traditions and values of the “North Men” in favor of those who follow the “Christ God”.  There are those who think he is abandoning his Viking heritage of conquering new lands so that he can settle down as a simple christian farmer.

Vikings - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Review)

Series

One thing that ALWAYS bothers me with period dramas is they always have the actors use British accents despite the fact that most often they take place in countries like Greece, Italy, or in this case Scandinavia.  But I was pleasantly surprised to hear the actors at least ATTEMPT to do region specific accents.  That’s one of the many things that this show seems to take great care to authenticate.  Though there are some subtitles, the dialog for the vikings is spoken in English when the characters are speaking the same language.  But when they are interacting with people that are from say, England, the foreigners are unable to understand the Vikings as their dialog changes to their native tongue.  I found this to be a creative way to avoid making the viewer watch an entire show with subtitles.

For a show that airs on network TV I was  impressed by the massive scope of the set design.  The ships, weapons, and costumes don’t seem like they came fresh off of the assembly line.  They have detailed characteristics that give them a sense of weight and wear and tear.  This show has a considerable amount of characters to follow.  But where most period dramas usually require graph charts in order to follow all of the plot lines, Vikings focuses on few key characters while also following some side stories to maintain momentum.  It would be easy to write the secondary story lines as filler.  But they make sure that each character and story line, no matter how small, resonates so well that they still maintain the show’s level of excitement and drama.

It’s definitely a change of pace to see Vikings depicted in such a personal manner.  When most people think of Vikings they picture large, brutish, monosyllabic savages who only live to destroy and conquer.  Now, that’s not to say that these Vikings don’t live to fight and pillage new lands, but they also explore their religion and culture in a way that is rarely touched upon.  The Viking characters are definitely antiheroes.  They kill and brutalize innocent people but the writing is so fluid that they’re actually able to make you sympathize with them as they explore each Vikings home life.

The soundtrack is pretty subtle.  But when you actually listen to it, it is also quite rich with emotion and passion.  It would be easy to simply bang on some drums and blow some horns for the entire score.  But Trevor Morris has really taken the time to create a textured sound that still knows how to take a back seat to the drama on screen, or when to burst with flourish.  The title theme is also well crafted.  Most themes tend to become stale after a few episodes, but every time it comes on it really pumps you up for things to come.  I think that that may be due to the fact that Trevor doesn’t incorporate pieces of the main theme into the score of the show.  Often times a TV show will add bits and pieces of the theme music throughout the series as sort of a call back for certain characters.  But I’ve found that this can sometimes take the viewer out of the moment of the scene when they suddenly recognize the melody.

I ONE HUNDRED percent plan on going back and watching the earlier seasons!  I can tell that each of these characters has a rich back story.  The Ragnar character in particular is one story line I’d like to see develop first hand.  This season he seems very calculating and aloof.  But I have a feeling that in past seasons he may have been a little more naive and unassuming.  I really can’t wait to check’em out!

Episodes

Disc 1:

Mercenary

The Wanderer

Warrior’s Fate

Disc 2:

Scarred

The Usurper

Born Again

Disc 3:

Paris

To the Gates!

Breaking Point

The Dead

Vikings - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Review)

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC (18.23 Mbps)

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Crisp and very clear.  It’s easy to make out the traditional Tattoos and engravings on all of the props and costumes.

Depth:  A show like this requires massive scope and detailed depth or else everything looks like mud.  But they’ve gone above and beyond in this department.  For example when they pull back to display the Vikings casting off on their boats it feels like you’re actually looking out beyond the horizon.

Black Levels:  Rich and accurate.  Considering that many scenes take place in the snow or the rain, one could fall victim to the hazy tones.  But there is clear definition between the dark clothing and the grey skies.

Color Reproduction:  Excellent and vibrant colors.  When blood is spilt and splattered the tones are quite life like.

Flesh Tones:  Like I said earlier many of the characters have multiple tattoos and most of the tonal palettes are blacks or dark blues.  But everything is quite accurate and clean.  Every single Tattoo is arranged with great care and precision.

Noise/Artifacts: CleanThe battle scenes have many axes and swords clanging about but it never turns to audio mush.

Vikings - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Review)

Audio

Audio Format(s): English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish.

Dynamics:  The dialog is set just a bit lower than the sound FX.  But I think that was to give the action scenes a little more weight.  But unlike many Blu-ray’s this one seems to have a nice balance between big sounds like screaming warriors and smaller sounds like dialog.

Low Frequency Extension:  Other than the music it doesn’t take much advantage of the LFE.  I think that that may be due to the time period in which it is set.  Back then, there weren’t any explosions or gun shots!

Surround Sound Presentation:  N/A.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Like I said earlier the dialog is at a nice level and it is quite clear.  Though it does take a bit of a back seat in mix once the action starts.

Vikings - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Review)

Extras

Disc 1:
  • Extended versions of all episodes.
  • Deleted scenes.
  • Athelstan’s Journal Part 1 (HD 36:51) –  Narrated by Athelstan who is played by George Blagden, this short film basically recaps the last two seasons from the character’s perspective. It also includes some clips from seasons one and two which contain spoilers so take that into consideration if you haven’t watched them.
  • Guide to the gods – Interactive Exploration – This is an interactive feature that gives you some backstory in regards to the role of the gods in the show.  It also gives you the theology of the Norse Gods which is explained by actual historians.
DISC 2:
  • Extended versions of all episodes.
  • Deleted scenes.
  • Audio Commentary on “Born Again” (Extended version).
  • Athelstan’s Journal Part 2 (HD 9:28) –  This is a continuation of part 1. This time it is told through a conversation between Athelstan and The Seer.  This one contains spoilers from season three.  So it is best to wait until after you’ve finished watching season three before you watch this feature.
DISC 3:
  • Extended versions of all episodes.
  • Deleted scenes.
  • Audio Commentary on “Breaking Point” (Extended version).
  • Heavy is the Head: The Politics of King Ragnar’s Rule. (HD 11:43) – In this featurette they address whether the importance of authenticity merits precedence over quality of story.  It also gives you an in-depth backstory about Ragnar Lothbrock, his motivations, and the mindset behind creating the fictional version of this historical figure.  They explain that this is an interpretation of the real Ragnar Lothbrock.  For instance, historically, Ragnar was said to be jealous of his sons as opposed to hoisting them on his shoulders and celebrating them as he does in the show.
  • A City Under Siege: Creating and Attacking Paris. (HD 14:35) –  This feature explains the process behind recreating the massive siege on Paris.  There are historians who describe the difficulty of building this story as there is little information as to what really happened.  They go on to describe how they’ve taken some liberties with the events for the sake of story telling.  But it’s impressive what they’re able to accomplish through the use of CGI and green screens.  It’s allowed them to expand the scope and massiveness of everything. You wouldn’t even notice the computer effects unless they were pointed out to you.
Vikings - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Review)

Summary

I really enjoyed this show!  It is thoroughly entertaining and does a great job of pulling the viewer into the drama.  Though it is action packed, and the fights are quite impressive, the REAL strength of this show lies in the chemistry between the actors and the way that they all strive to make sure that you feel a genuine sense of authenticity.  Other historical dramas tend to focus primarily on the specific events that took place at the time.  But Vikings really takes it’s time to develop and endear you to it’s characters despite the fact that they live to invade and destroy other people’s lands!  So gather you’re raiding party and secure yourself a copy!  It’ll make for a fine Christmas gift!

 Vikings - The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray Review)

Share

Writer, Musician, Composer, Singer and Dancer. To sum up: I like to get jiggy with it!

Comments are currently closed.