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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Heroes Reborn: Event Series (Blu-ray)
Heroes Reborn: Event Series (Blu-ray)
Universal // Unrated // April 12, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Thomas Spurlin | posted May 9, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The Season (Series):

Despite a hurried and anticlimactic ending, the first season of Heroes proved to be fresh and innovative television, laying the foundation for a series that could evolve with time about everyday people discovering that they possess extraordinary powers. Over the course of its three subsequent seasons, however, creator Tim Kring and his writers struggled to capitalize on that potential: they repeated story arcs from previous seasons, introduced too many characters engaged in uninteresting pursuits, and expanded the overarching scope of the threat -- and certain characters' powers -- too big for the story's episodic pacing to handle. By the time the fourth season brought the series to an unceremonious close, uncertain as to whether the show might be renewed or not, its viewership had dwindled into a largely frustrated fanbase who likely wouldn't be swayed with more promises of better things to come. After six years away, creator Tim Kring hopes to rejuvenate interest with the pseudo-sequel Heroes Reborn, but it proves to be a continuation of many of the same issues as the previous volumes.

Billed as an "event miniseries", Heroes Reborn takes place several years after the conclusion to the original Heroes, in a society where humans and "evos" -- evolved humans with powers -- are starting to coexist. Tragedy strikes at a peaceful convention in Odessa, Texas, though, where fatal blasts that kill both humans and evolved humans alike are attached to a renowned evo scientist, Dr. Mohinder Suresh (Sendhil Ramamurthy). Following the perspective of HRG himself, ex-superhuman investigator Noah Bennet (Jack Coleman), the series jumps ahead a year to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, to a world where evos must be registered, are considered dangerous, and are hunted by vigilantes. In true Heroes fashion, the show then bounces between evolved humans either coping with or discovering supernatural powers: Tommy (Robbie Kay), a teleporter who constantly changes cities with his mother; Miko (Kiki Sukezane), the daughter of a videogame designer, who can enter and exit the digital world; Carlos (Ryan Guzman), a young military hero who doesn't know about his family's bloodline; and Malina (Danika Yarosh), a nomad trekking the wilderness who can control the fabric of nature itself.

By dropping the story in the midst of the peaceful conference, which showcases the supernatural powers of the evolved humans and the potentially uniting society that comes crumbling down with the terrorist act, Heroes Reborn makes it so those watching don't really need to have seen the conclusion of the core series to grasp how its ending influenced the world. Unfortunately, the writing also takes a few easy ways out by using the series' love of memory wipes and time-travel to set up some of the circumstances, and those personal stories of the new characters exist somewhat independently from how Noah Bennet -- with the help of a quirky conspiracy theorist, Quentin (Henry Zebrowski) -- gets roped back into the world of evolved humans. There's a mystery at the center of this new miniseries, a missing part of the equation involving shifting patterns in nature and an ominous event to come, which leaves the plotting feeling jumbled and deliberately nonsensical early on without a few more details connecting it all. A few too many numb-skulled contrivances and recycled cliches doesn't really help matters, either.

With Heroes, the individual characters -- how they discover or cope with their powers in an everyday environment -- have always been more of a focal point than the vague overarching mysteries tying them together, and Heroes Reborn uses a few decent, though familiar and blandly written, concepts that fall into that pattern. Carlos and his association with the LA-based vigilante El Vengador works as a pretty obvious analog to Batman or Green Arrow, only with a bit of luchador wrestling flair to give the hero a bit of cultural spice. Tommy's projection/teleportation power gels fairly well with the trite Spider-Man-esque high-school romance going on with Emily (Gatlin Green) and his struggles with popularity. The pursuits of a group of evo bounty hunters, Luke and Joanne, taps into a raw emotional angle hinged on the deaths at the Odessa summit, given over-dramatic and violent attitude by Zachari Levi and Judith Shekoni. Most of 'em aren't discovering their powers, though, instead either already dealing with them or concealing them from the authorities, and the show lacks magic by not having these "origin" stories upfront.

A big part of Heroes Reborn operates around hyper-advanced technology and the networked realm of Evernow, a massively-multiplayer gaming environment that conceals a vital component of the show's mystery, and the lack of innovation in both these elements really casts a shadow over the storytelling. Yet another clandestine corporation gets introduced into the Heroes universe, and their grand scheme will seem oddly familiar to those who have seen either of Bryan Singer's first two X-Men films, led by a ordinary, not-so-gray corporate villainess, Erica Kravid (Rya Kihlstedt). Their plan's integration with what's hidden in the realm of Evernow transports the show out of reality and into a computer-generated, Matrix-esque situation involving Miko, the "Katana Girl", and how she slices and dices through digital enemies with the help of a famous online gamer, Ren. Coupled with unimpressive renderings of the digital environment and the violent hack-'n-slash combat within it, the jumps into the fantasy world of Evernow are an odd way of putting the show's reality on pause, deflating the stakes in the process.

Told within the series' signature, overt comic-book vignette structure and delivery of dialogue, Heroes Reborn has a lot going on within it, and not a lot tying it all together at first beyond vague prophecies about the end of the world and how evolved humans will, of course, save the day. Tim Kring and his team have a plan, though, one that manifests near the middle of the season in the two-part "June 13th", shaking up the narrative in an unpredictable way that draws in familiar faces from the Heroes universe, both good-guys and bad alike. There's quite a bit of zigzagging cleverness going on with this destination, too, making for what's easily the most entertaining pair of episodes in the season's run, sending the overarching plot down a convoluted yet absorbing path that finally starts to fill in some crucial blanks. In fact, these episodes stand at the epicenter of the mythology in Heroes Reborn, and it's unfortunate that it took this long to let the audience in on a few of these secrets, because a stronger emotional foundation might've been established with a more even distribution throughout the earlier chapters.

The pace quickens with the latter half of episodes as the cataclysmic event grows nearer, building with energy as all the pieces begin fitting together alongside a handful of brisk action sequences and a race against time. Ultimately, though, it's too little, too late: there are hardbound issues with the machinations in Heroes Reborn that cannot be overcome with this forward-moving momentum, from time-travel inanity and arbitrary evolution of powers to the reliance on the subpar Evernow gaming world as a repeatedly vital plot device. And even though there's trippy, ominous creativity in the events within the final pair of episodes -- the fruition of this prophecy and the conflagration of vast superpowers -- a loose grasp on sensible developments leads Heroes Reborn deep into the realm of nonsense for the sake of an explosive ending, as if making up for the anticlimactic happenings in the first season's momentous duel. Another mystery looms at the end of this season, too, another plot thread for the series to follow if the will's there; but, thankfully, there's also enough resolution at the end of this oddly-timed and clumsily-executed reboot to leave the Heroes mythology alone, as well.

The Blu-ray:

Also labeled an "Event Series" for the home-video release, Heroes Reborn arrives from Universal Home Entertainment in a fairly standard three-disc arrangement, with the episode arrangement unevenly spread out among the three discs. A snazzy, pearlescent slipcover duplicates the front artwork, with raised lettering for some of the text, while the inner artwork provides a listing of the chapters and breakdown of the limited extra features. Once again, howeer, Universal have opted for a minimalist, text-free menu interface that makes it a bit cumbersome to navigate into the other branches. It's a minor complaint, but plain text is certainly preferable to the icons. A Digital Copy slip has also been included.

Video and Audio:

Heroes Reborn descends onto Blu-ray from Universal in a fine slate of thirteen episodes that unleash slick, multihued photography onto its audience, framed at the broadcast ratio of 1.78:1 in these 1080p AVC transfers. A ton of color can be found throughout the cinematography, from the vivid shades of pink and red in Katana Girl's costume and the Renautus logo to the rich, glowing blues in underground facilities and the vibrant greens of the outdoors, all of which stand appropriately strong within the vibrancy of the color shades. There is some black crush occasionally in darker sequences of the underground facilities and other industrial structures, but it's largely tolerable and doesn't detract from how exceptional the contrast levels are in every other sequence sporting middle-range lighting and above, enhancing depth with its elegant shadows. Fine details in close-ups, garments (Especially Katana Girl and El Vengador's costumes), harsh industrial textures and little details -- the polish on a penny, the ornate pieces of a Eiffel Tower charm bracelet, ripples in dark magic and shards of ice -- are exquisitely sharp. Aside from the black levels and some minor banding, Heroes Reborn looks phenomenal.

Surprisingly, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track for Heroes Reborn isn't as noteworthy, though certainly a robust collection of sonic treatments with plentiful surround activity and punch. The crashing of glass, the impact of explosions and gunfire, and the heavy clank of blades tap into assertive high-def fidelity, reaching appropriately deep into the bass channel and hitting hard with mid-range clarity. Some dimensionality and separation in the front channels can be discerned in brisker action sequences, but most of the sonic department's capabilities are found in its consistent surround atmosphere, providing solid immersion with modest but reputable activity across all channels. Dialogue is largely decent, but there are a number of sequences where even mid-range volume level speech experiences some raspy distortion. There's also a few sequences throughout the series that suffer from some pitch issues, too, ringing at the upper end in a few spots. Despite the flaws, it's a suitable and satisfying aural presentation for the action-based series.

Special Features:

Aside from Deleted Scenes scattered across all three discs, the only substantive extra for Heroes Reborn arrives in the Heroes Reborn: Reliving the Legacy (10:52, 16x9 HD) featurette on Disc Three, which offers a cursory collection of interviews with the cast and crew about the storyline, the added darkness of this "dystopic" and "xenophobic" take on the universe, and its allegory to human rights.

Also included is the six-part introductory webisode series Heroes Reborn: Dark Matters (43:27, 16x9 HD), which offers backstory on Noah Bennet's conspiracy theorist sidekick, Quentin, and, more importantly, on his sister's discovery of her powers. It's only worth watching as a curiosity after viewing the season, but it does provide some clarity on Quentin's mindset and offers a portrait of what life's like for an evolved human in this universe, from discover of their capabilities to exposure and the dangers that come from it.

Final Thoughts:

It's a bit darker in tone and goes in some wacky directions, but the rebirth promised in the title Heroes Reborn doesn't really come to fruition, with the miniseries essentially offering more of the same from the lesser seasons of Heroes: too many new characters to keep the story focused, repetitive and wonky writing, and consistent missed opportunities with the superhuman tools at the characters' disposal. Underneath the show's signature moving music lies a disjointed, overblown rehash of elements from the first season, whose only ace up its sleeve comes in nostalgia and a little narrative trickery in the show's mid-season, two-part episode run. Universal's Blu-ray looks and sounds great, and arrives with the prequel webisodes on-disc as a nice extra feature. Rent It.

Thomas Spurlin, Staff Reviewer -- DVDTalk Reviews | Personal Blog/Site
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