Arrow: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
Green Arrow has long played second fiddle to DC’s most lucrative dark, brooding hero, Batman. Comparisons have often been made between the two characters, and it’s easy to see why – they’re both billionaires that decide to take the law into their own hands, utilizing a host of advanced gadgets and prowling the city rooftops for criminal scum. CW’s hit show Arrow aims to modernize the character and carve out its own identity, and it largely succeeds. I could absolutely see Stephen Amell’s hooded vigilante fighting alongside Supes and the Caped Crusader in a Justice League film.
Arrow tells the tale of Oliver Queen, a rich playboy who survives five years as a castaway on a secluded island after his father’s boat the Queen’s Gambit is shipwrecked. Oliver is the sole survivor, with his father having taken his own life to save him and Sara Lance, the sister of his girlfriend Laurel, having drowned. Fast forward to the present day, and Oliver is reunited with his family, including his mother Moira, his sister Thea, and his best friend Tommy Merlyn. He’s hesitant to talk about the trials he suffered through on the island, and these events are brilliantly revealed to us in a series of flashbacks throughout the season.
Oliver Queen tasks himself with righting the wrongs of his father and his associates, who have brought his home city of Starling City to ruins. By day Oliver plays the part of the irresponsible heir to the Queen fortune, and by night he takes on the role of The Vigilante, a hooded figure who is targeting the corrupt one-percenters and scumbags of his city. His mother assigns a bodyguard to watch over him, an ex-soldier named John Diggle who later joins his crusade against villainy. Oliver knows that his father hid some dark secrets from him, and it turns out his mother isn’t quite the angel he thought she was as well…
Arrow is obviously heavily inspired by the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy, and attempts to keep its characters and storylines as grounded as possible. The show manages to strike a great balance between action and drama, and though it can feel a bit soapy at times with its love triangles and the like, the acting and writing really make you care about these characters. It helps that every one of its 23 episodes feature incredible fight choreography, sharp dialogue and very solid acting. Lead actor Stephen Amell imbues Oliver Queen with heart, and manages to portray the dual identities of the emotionally damaged billionaire and the bow-wielding badass The Hood with ease.
The supporting cast is also great, and the writers masterfully interweave the events of the island with present-day storylines. The entire season has a great build, leading up to an epic, emotional finale. There are hardly any lulls or filler here, and even with 23 one-hour episodes I had to force myself to take breaks in my binge-watching – it’s that engaging. For a season that’s literally twice as long as some other show’s seasons, that’s really saying something. The show constantly introduces new characters that quickly grow on you, including the awesome Deathstroke (Spartacus’ Manu Bennett), Diggle, Yao Fei and the Dark Archer.
The Blu-ray set comes with four Blu-ray disks and five DVDs, as well as a code to unlock the entire first season through Ultraviolet. As far as special features, there’s a decent enough set here – deleted scenes are included with most of the episodes (it’s hilarious watching these with no sound effects), there’s a few documentaries, and a gag reel. Arrow Comes Alive! talks about the process of modernizing the Green Arrow character for a TV series, while staying true to its comic roots. Arrow: Fight School/ Stunt School takes a look at the expertly choreographed action sequences, and how the shots are roughed out by the stunt men and made safe for the actors to perform. Arrow At Paley Fest 2013 is a bit like a Comic-Con panel, featuring the writers, directors, and the lead actors. Nothing overly amazing, but Arrow is spectacular enough to warrant a purchase even with no extras at all.
Arrow: The Complete First Season Blu-ray can be purchased on Amazon here.