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3 stars
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$26.98
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$6.49 (76%)
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Overall Grade
3 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2 Stars
HD Video Quality
3.5 Stars
HD Audio Quality
3.5 Stars
Supplements
2 Stars
High-Def Extras
3.5 Stars
Bottom Line
For Fans Only

Heroes: Season Three

Street Date:
September 1st, 2009
Reviewed by:
Nate Boss
Review Date: 1
September 1st, 2009
Movie Release Year:
2008
Studio:
Universal Studios
Length:
0 Minutes
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

NBC's 'Heroes' has been an "interesting" ride so far. The stellar, gripping first season, featuring ordinary people discovering their extraordinary powers, was both intelligent and entertaining, putting the viewers in the shoes of those few facing life changing discoveries. The writer's strike-shortened second season was everything that the first season wasn't, and since season one was all that, this was a very, very bad thing.

New heroes (with new powers) began popping up, but their tales seemed amazingly forced together by the most ridiculous of cheats, rather than connected naturally and seamlessly. The climax felt rushed, and was massively underdeveloped, the byproduct of merely a few episodes worth of build up. We didn't have an obvious villain, rather, half a season handling the fall out from the previous events, concluding with a bullshit "dramatic" new threat that was less than riveting. 'Season Two' ended with a cliffhanger assassination attempt, and from there, 'Season Three' begins, with the identity and motives of the shooter still unknown.

The fine line between family and familiarity has been drawn, as the Petrelli family seems to have expanded, and rifts between the family have hit new highs/lows, while the Bennet clan fractures after years of deception. A familiar face returns, but she isn't who she seems. The most powerful hero, turned powerless, is again on a rampage, but he isn't the most dangerous man the world has to face. Heroes will hunt heroes, while villains will hunt heroes and villains alike.

This season of 'Heroes' takes a new path, as the show is divided into two volumes, with the first half of the season following a story concerning the proliferation of villains in the world (aptly titled Villains), while the latter half of the season covers the hunt for those with powers, making them fugitives (in the also aptly titled Fugitives). The entire season turns on a dime when the volumes change, as the second season showed that taking a full 24 to 26 episodes to tell a tale would apparently be too strenuous to write cohesively.

After the second season of 'Heroes' paraded around like Hannibal Lecter in the first season's mutilated skin, I had nothing but high hopes for this season. Afterall, I thought, things certainly couldn't get any worse, they were almost certain to rebound. Alas, this latest full length season is no better than the previous, occasionally teasing us with great ideas, only to fall back into the same tired rhythms.

Where to begin? The never ending drama of who is actually dead takes on a life of its own, as it seems the show cannot maintain a level of continuity, keeping the dead dead. Long presumed dead characters such as Linderman (Malcolm McDowell) and Arthur Petrelli (Robert Forster) have roles requiring lives that were thought to no longer exist. The return of dead characters is nowhere near as troubling as the continued writing off of characters, as if the world cannot survive having too many living super powered individuals at any given time, much like an X-Men "House of M" storyline.

The entire season falls on its face, due the constant changes, and the immediate undoing of said changes within an episode. In fact, the rallying point (and most famous line) from the first season is utterly negated in the very first episode, leading to the entire Sylar (Zachary Quinto) character lacking accessibility simply by being too damn powerful. The motivations of nearly every character can turn on a dime (as do their powers), and the two seasons worth of character development gets thrown out the window in many of these about-faces. Many likable characters become utterly despicable!

In this season of 'Heroes,' the characters who never had real powers before gain and/or unveil them, while many popular heroes have their abilities conveniently removed when they need them most. The use of prophets using art to tell the future has come full circle, as the talent once used by a junkie, then the power leach, now is used by an African seer (Ntare Mwine as the awesome Usutu), who apparently passes his powers on to the mind-controlling Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), not to mention the cranky Arthur Petrelli. Is this power cursed, or just that damn common?

'Heroes' also makes no attempt to follow the patterns of comic book hero convention. In every comic, the super powered character seems to have a job, another life to maintain, a secret to keep, while in 'Heroes,' characters have their jobs, but then disappear from them for what can seem like months at a time, only to go back for a week or two like nothing ever happened, waiting for their next super-extended vacation. How can they save the world when they can't even maintain a schedule? How do they never get fired? Do they all have the greatest benefit packages in the history of the world? Is that a super power they all share?

Not everything in this season is a disaster, though disasters do greatly outnumber non-disasters . The shapeshifting found in the late episodes was fun, at first, until it became overused and abused. Sylar comes to grips with being labeled what he is: a serial killer, and he receives the same odd treatment real life killers get in Luke Campbell (Dan Byrd), a powered teen who idolizes the villain. This parallel made the show have a better subconscious reality to it, made it more rooted and accessible. Lastly, Matt Parkman and Daphne Millbrook (Brea Grant) have a very fun crossing story that had me pulling for them, much like fans had pulled for Jim and Pam from 'The Office' to get together for season after season (fans, stay tuned for that review!).

While 'Heroes' was quite awful the second time around, at least it kept the pain short and sweet, with a mere 11 episodes, while this season again creates a massive headache, which it sustains for 25 full length episodes, and the very beginning of the fifth volume: Redemption. After this season, 'Heroes' certainly needs said redemption badly.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

What is this strange sense of familiarity? It's like I've seen this before...

'Heroes: Season Three' is much akin to the previous two Blu-ray releases, in terms of video quality. Presented in 1080p with the VC-1 encode (at 1.78:1, the same ratio as the television presentation), this season isn't a powerful leap ahead of previous seasons, nor is it left in the dust. It's just more of the same.

Contrast is utterly superb. Colors are very accurate, with skin tones staying true and natural through the entire season. There are some striking primaries. Detail is consistently on the higher end of the dial, with finer facial details always on display, along with some very deeply accented fore(and back)grounds. Stray hairs fly boldly away from nearly every character's mane, and the random reflections in vehicles are stunning. Edges are utterly clean, detail doesn't smear from noise reduction, blacks are rich, and, in late episodes in the season, there are black and white sequences that are fan-freaking-tastic.

Not all is good here, though, as I found a laundry list of detrimental issues that pop up repeatedly throughout the season. While the grain level for the show isn't intrusive, it tends to fluctuate at times, with darker scenes possessing a somewhat overbearing sprinkling. Delineation is far less than respectable; in fact, it's one of the worst parts of this transfer. Motion blur pops up in slow motion sequences, banding rears its ugly head (blatantly) more than a couple times, and due to the enhanced clarity, flimsy special effects look disastrous, with cuts that move around a surface, shaking ever so slightly, with a neon appearance. This list of issues wouldn't be that massive if they were one-time deals, but the fact that they all happen numerous times is telling. One thing to consider, though, is the massive run time of the show (clocking in at just short of 18 hours), so there are far more opportunities for disaster to be had, and since this season doesn't reach that level of negativity, the good somewhat outweighs the bad.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Universal provides an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track for each and every episode of 'Heroes: Season Three.' Just like the video, it's more of the same.

Dialogue is clean, clearly prioritized over every bit of action, score, or special effect, and is very much front and center, with little rear localized dialogue or moving conversations. Surround usage is constant, though slightly underwhelming, as sequences in the Fugitives chapter have wonderful motion effects (and fades) from helicopters moving across the room, but few other effects come close to this amount of activity.

The score is a bit quiet, just like 'Season Two,' easily overpowered by the action and dialogue. High ends scream, while bass provides some nice accents (though no real powerful rumbles or roars), creating a very pleasing, respectable amount of range on display. One thing that really bothered me about this sound mix was a high pitched audio squeal that was present in a few of the 1961 flashbacks, as it was more obvious than the ringing in the Blu-ray of 'Sin City,' and was even possibly intentional for those sequences. All in all, though, these DTS-HD-MA mixes were respectable, though not extraordinary.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

There are extras on all five of the BD50 discs that 'Heroes: Season Three' is spread out on. Some features are on every disc, unique to their episodes, while featurettes are spread out randomly throughout the season.

  • Deleted Scenes: Disc 1 (SD, 13 min) - Many deleted scenes include unfinished special effects, and text notes as to what to add to them. On the first disc's worth of deleted scenes, we get a sneak peak at Mohinder playing with his new powers, Micah getting all emo, more Linderman (yay!), and most importantly, Mr. Muggles getting powned.
  • Deleted Scenes: Disc 2 (SD, 12 min) - Close up shots of taco production (yummy), while the Knox (Jamie Hector) character is fleshed out like he were a main character, with a nice origin story.
  • Deleted Scenes: Disc 3 (SD, 4 min) - Mohinder whining about his self-infliction, more shots of the soldiers, Molly is attacked by a monster of sorts, and Hiro and Ando discuss their trip to India.
  • Deleted Scenes: Disc 4 (SD, 1 min) - This section should have been labeled singular "scene," rather than plural "scenes." A throwaway line of dialogue. Whoop de doo!
  • Deleted Scenes: Disc 5 (SD, 6 min) - Micah and HRG chill and discuss ethics, Hiro and Ando fiddle fart around with miniature Matt Parkman, and Mohinder has a talk about his father. To sum up the deleted scenes, as a whole: a whole 'lotta nothin' goin' on!
  • The Super Powers of 'Heroes' (HD, 8 min) - Stunt coordinator Tim Gilbert discusses the excessive amount of powers, and the real filming elements needed to create the effects and stunts. Nothing is sacred, or secret, as Gilbert provides colorful commentary for some pre-effects shots, and behind the scenes looks at the filming of these sequences. A fun filled little ditty.
  • Completing the Scene (HD, 8 min) - A look at the special effects, told through numerous members of the production team, in interviews and meetings. How the 3D effects are made is lightly touched on, while plenty of CG use is discussed. There is a great look at the future annihilation sequence shown in this season as well, a great thing, as this was one of the best sequences of this season.
  • Alternate Stories (HD) - These short stories that tie into the show are from the series webisodes. While they are secluded to the point that they do not integrate into the main show, they are a pretty nice series of side plots. The Recruit (18 min) is a neat look at some of the soldiers from the end of the Villains chapter, while Going Postal (10 min) was a fun, though repetitive, origin story for a mailman gone evil. Scary. Lastly, Nowhere Man (18 min) is the continuation of the tale of one of the creepiest characters in this new season, Doyle (David H. Lawrence XVII ), who could control people like they were his puppets. This story is a bit silly, as Doyle showed how powerful he was before, and now he's doing such petty things. A complete waste of a character. The downside to these stories is the constant credits that come with every few minutes worth of footage, as they get annoying after the first couple.
  • Pinehearst Commercial (HD, 1 min) - A silly little mock Pinehurst commercial for their cover company. Totally lame and skippable.
  • The Prop Box (HD, 5 min) - The prop guys take us on a trip into the "gold room," which is loaded with random props from the show. I cannot begin to say how much money this pile of trinkets would be worth, especially the original paintings.
  • Tim Sale Gallery of Screen Art (HD, 1 min) - A quick moving montage of the paintings used in this season of 'Heroes,' including many that were painted into rocks.
  • Genetics of a Scene (HD, 20 min) - A four part segment, with a play all option. First up is a behind the scenes look at a few sequences, including the Claire brain sequence and the deformed test subject prosthetics. Then a look at the Daphne/Speedster character, and a really fun glimpse at how her powers were created on set and through CG. Then the hunter/hunted sequence between Matt and Danko is analyzed, with a look at how a few particular shots were made. Lastly, a silly little music video like look/instructional on the direction of an episode is shown, and is massively annoying.
  • The Writer's Forum (HD, 13 min) - Also known as the people to blame for 'Season Three:' Tim Kring, Adam Armus, and Aron Eli Coleite. I had a hard time really giving a damn as to what they said, having sat through nearly 18 hours worth of horrific plot holes, lame "twists," and actions not becoming of nearly every character's past. For those who don't want to bust out the pitchforks and torches due to these gentlemen, the trio discuss the themes they wanted to portray, and the new turns they wanted to take the show through.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

The above list of extras doesn't look all that deep, and that's because many of the features on this release are exclusive to Blu-ray (some are enhanced from their DVD incarnations, while others were completely omitted from the last gen release.

  • U-Control- Picture in Picture Commentary - Each episode of this season has an accompanying commentary track, enhanced through U-Control. Even with the PIP commentary volume on high (there are three volume settings for this feature), the conversations are still very quiet, so to hear them clearly, one has to crank up the volume, and then get boomed when there's a gap in coverage. A lose-lose situation.

    The picture-in-picture takes up approximately 1/6th of the visible screen (bottom right corner), is not movable, and often overlaps the Hiro/Ando subtitles. They consist of cast and crew sitting down in cliche movie chairs, and having a conversation in the middle of a random set from the show, nothing less, nothing more.

    Episode 1- Alan Arkush, Adrian Pasdar (Nathan), and Tim Kring. At one point Pasdar mentions on this track he can't hear the people on screen. Irony. Also worth noting: Kring mentions "the never ending quest to figure out new ways to bring dead people back onto the show." My suggestion: leave them fucking dead for crying out loud, unless they come back as zombies.

    Episode 2- Greg Beeman, James Kyson Lee (Ando), and Brea Grant (Daphne). A lovely echo accompanies this commentary, due to the hallway set (which wasn't a very good idea...). They discuss the entire future storyline involving Hiro and Ando, as if Ando were to know where that story will go, the strike and how it affected a few episodes, and they get spellbound by the show...often.

    Episode 3- Christine Rose (Angela) and Milo Ventimiglia (Peter). The duo discuss the Sylar/Petrelli storyline, the back of HRG's head (so exciting!), and fall prey to describing the ongoing action on screen, like we were blind. Christine says "so beautiful" a few times too many to not be annoying.

    Episode 4- Greg Grunberg (Matt) and Jamie Hector (Knox). After seeing the deleted scenes between these two characters, I was looking forward to a very good conversation. Unfortunately, that's not what I got. Greg shows his real life superpower...shaking his eyes. Astonishing. They freak out over Peter's facial scar (calling him assface), and make fun of Adrian's channeling invisible actors.

    Episode 5- Anthony Hemmingway, Adam Armus, and Kay Foster. No actors this time, which sucks, as I enjoy their insight far more than crew. They acknowledge how damn dark this season/show is (in appearance at times, not in tone), and seem to enjoy the show more than they care to talk about the show. A very dull track.

    Episode 6 - Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder), Christopher Zatta, and Chuck Kim. They discuss Robert Forster's gift giving habits, Masi Oka's punch taking ability, praise my favorite line in this season (see the final thoughts section for that), and do a nice job interpreting situations, rather than just describing them. Ramamurthy is a great commentator, as he's full of insights and anecdotes, and is never dry.

    Episode 7- Charlie Lieberman and Scott Boyd. Boyd has to be the worst guest up to this point, as he makes stupid faces, repeats lines from the episodes he's watching, and gives off uninteresting anecdotes that I honestly couldn't have cared less about. Unprofessionalism ("is that a spoiler?"), and a complete lack of intriguing information makes this track akin to torture.

    Episode 8- Allan Arkush and Jack Coleman (HRG). I would have enjoyed some details on when the flashbacks were filmed, as Peter's hair is massively different here than it has been in later seasons. Arkush makes nice references to 'Eyes Wide Shut,' his inspiration for the party sequence, while Coleman is more the second banana, replying to stories rather than telling them.

    Episode 9- Blake Shields (Flint), Charlie Lieberman, and Don Aron. We get informed on what a recap is, as if we hadn't figured them out in the 40 some odd episodes before this one. We get some production anecdotes on set design, while Shields provides some light insights into playing his character. The conversation here is less than interesting, a trend that is happening quite often in these commentaries.

    Episode 10- Greg Beeman and Sendhil Ramamurthy. Sylar's human side is briefly examined, Sendhil talks about his slimy, gooey makeup, along with projectile vomit, and the duo discuss their favorite sequences in the episode, laughing along with the action, and interpreting eye movements of Angela Petrelli as meaning "beotch!"

    Episode 11- Christine Rose (Angela) and Greg Grunberg (Matt). Goodness gracious, watching the PIP on top of the eclipse makes the dull colors and muted tone look even worse. It's an absolute wreck! Greg mentions company sponsored crotches, and goes so far as to describe Christine's crotch. The odd couple also get all hot when the show gets hot and heavy, and I was fearful of what might ensue next. These two sure are comfy with each other, and the fact that Christine says she's played Greg's mom in a past show makes their sexual banter all that more creepy. A humorous track, as these two have good chemistry...possibly too good.

    Episode 12- Masi Oka (Hiro) and Brea Grant (Daphne). These two carry on the good chemistry, much like they had on screen (as Hiro and Ando are the first to encounter Daphne). They discuss shooting logistics due to going back in time to a very similar scene from 'Season One,' baby wrangling and on set baby actor experiences. These two have a very lively, rapid fire back and forth conversation that is a fun listen.

    Episode 13- Zachary Quinto (Sylar) and Gary D'Amico. The conversation unnaturally heads towards stunts, D'Amico's background, despite none happening on screen. Quinto naturally leads the conversation, while D'Amico is a bit of a clunky talker here. The guys act like they just called out the wrong name in bed or something, as there are countless awkward silences, far more than any other commentary. Possibly one of the worst commentaries on this set that includes an actor.

    Episode 14- Milo Ventimiglia (Peter), Tim Kring, and Greg Yaitanes. There's not a single mention of Ali Larter topless, as the guys just talk over her changing clothes. Yeah, these are guys on a mission. The discussion is very analytical, rather than descriptive, and no one man dominates the track (though Milo is a bit of the odd man out, not getting many words in edgewise). A respectable, deep track for a very important episode.

    Episode 15- Allan Arkush and Mark Verheiden. The analogy of the escape sequence to a prison movie is interesting (and obvious), while Nathan's actions are analyzed and interpreted. The camera homage to 'Full Metal Jacket' is fun, and the wide range of restaurants one set has portrayed is absolutely astonishing, and flat out hilarious. How one set can be a waffle house/bowling alley, bar, and ramen joint, with no similarities, is really neat.

    Episode 16- Sandy Getzler and Ruth Ammon. The ladies talk about the logistics of sets and locations in the show (while keeping track of who's where), cannot pronounce Sylar correctly, and ramble on and on about scouting and building locations and dressing them. A poor track, that adds nothing to the package.

    Episode 17- Jack Coleman (HRG) and Sendhil Ramamurthy (Mohinder). Kidnapper and kidnapee converse! Jack is entertaining in a very dry manner (that was Indian food...), while Sendhil throws his voice a bit, rather than staying constant. Jack also talks about turning black and white for the flashback sequences, so perhaps HRG *does* have a power. A very entertaining and informative track, full of rapid fire conversation and fun anecdotes. One of the best commentaries in this release.

    Episode 18- Milo Ventimiglia (Peter) and Greg Grunberg (Matt). The duo joke around about the episode introductions, hint at a contest where they watch the show in random teenage girl's bedrooms, mention an all-nude episode of 'Heroes,' and discuss torturing Mr. Muggles with gallons of ranch dressing. Another good track.

    Episode 19- David H. Lawrence XVII (Doyle) and Oliver Grigsby. The black and white with one color sticking out effect is pondered (something I've always been curious about, I'll admit), they smooch some producer derriere, explain writing deadlines, provide Rebel conjecture, and out the Unabomber cabin.

    Episode 20- Masi Oki (Hiro) and Bryan Fuller. The pair discuss the Fugitives storyline and the issues that it presented for writing and production, some neat original ideas for the Building 26 "coma" room, Masa's thoughts on the use of Hiro/Ando as comic relief between dramatic sequences, plot holes, and Fuller's previous works with the show.

    Episode 21- Nate Goodman and Joe Pokaski. Joe and Nate talk about fleshing out Danko's character and the Nathan/Claire relationship that has been widely ignored since the first season, when they're not universally praising anyone and everyone.

    Episode 22- Mark Verheiden and Rob Fresco. This pair mostly discuss the shapeshifting themes that started in these late episodes, while hitting on how some characters are undertaking darker changes. Most of this commentary covers how they toe the line in this late episode as to not give away the twists to come.

    Episode 23- Jon Koslowsky and Adam Kane. Again we get told what an intro is by these men who must think us viewers are utterly ignorant. The transitions between black and white are focused on, as are the differences in 1961 and current day Coyote Sands. For the most part, this track is uninteresting, and dead serious to a flaw.

    Episode 24- Nate Goodman, Kay Foster, and Adam Armus. An interesting point is brought up: The extended Petrelli family see Nathan talking on television live, and instantly suspect that Nathan as the fraud. Why don't they accuse the Nathan in their midst, even a single iota? Other than this early puzzling though, this track is absolutely dull, full of conversation, but nothing informative, interesting, anything.

    Episode 25- Charlie Lieberman and Donn Aron. They certainly saved the best for last! These guys speak in a sleep inducing monotone, sit nearly perfectly still, and have long gaps at times. The only thing worth a damn here is the changing computer graphic behind the guys full of random 'Heroes' art and character designs and sketches. One of the worst commentaries I've ever tried to sit through.

  • Hero Connections- Network - Accessible on the DVD set, this feature is enhanced through U-Control on this Blu-ray disc. A map, much like the one found in the future episode of 'Season One,' where characters pictures are linked with string to show their connections, while a brief, brief bio is included for each. There is nothing here that is new or exciting, or really even informative, as the info provided here wasn't exactly difficult to figure out in the episodes. The neat thing about this feature, found on each disc, is that the content in the bios changes, like a progress meter, to show what the viewer has seen so far in the season. Oh, how quickly the red x's designating someone dies add up...ugh.
  • Building Coyote Sands (HD, 10 min) - The last feature on the set, a look at the fantastic Coyote Sands Internment Camp location. From the building of the barracks, to the logistics of camera placement in concerns to creating the camp, the difficulties and battle plans the construction crew had making the area and the decoration of these "dorms," nothing isn't thought of in this very thorough feature, which was possibly my favorite extra on this release.
  • BD-Live - Hop online with BD-Live! The portal includes the generic trailers and whatnot on the mainpage, but in the exclusive content tab, there is a 'Heroes: Season Four' sneak peak, presented in SD. Some questions about the finale of 'Season Three' are answered, while the upcoming plot themes for many characters are hinted at. The Hiro and Ando hints look very fun, new characters are introduced (including Robert Knepper from 'Prison Break' fame, and Ray "don't call me Darth Maul" Park), while the rest looks like more of the same.
  • My Scenes - Bookmark your favorite scenes, and share them with friends!
  • D-Box - Each episode of 'Heroes' is D-Box Motion Enabled, giving those who have the equipment more punch.

Final Thoughts

'Heroes' was once an amazing show, but for the last two years, it's been a shell of its former self. What fans were left after the unsatisfactory 'Season Two' may finally find the reason to jump ship with this 25 episode disaster. Shark jumping appears to be a weekly affair, and those not convinced have one thing to consider: Seth friggin' Green ('Robot Chicken') appears for two episodes as a comic jockey, with the super power of being massively annoying, as always. The video and audio for this release are more of the same, but the extras, my goodness, are they extensive! I wanted, ever so much, to be able to steal this season's best line (High five, Turtle!) to describe the season, but really, the only difference between this show and the corpses Sylar leaves behind is the fact that the corpses still have their brains.

All disc reviews at High-Def DVD Digest are completed using the best consumer HD home theater products currently on the market. More about our gear.

Technical Specs

  • Blu-ray
  • BD-50 Dual-Layer Discs
  • Five Disc Set

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/VC-1

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 1.78:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH
  • Spanish
  • French

Supplements

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Featurettes
  • Hero Connections

Exclusive HD Content

  • D-Box Enabled
  • My Scenes
  • BD-live
  • U-Control- Picture in Picture Commentaries
List Price
$26.98
Amazon
$6.49 (76%)
3rd Party
$2.49
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