Lost: The Complete Fourth Series The Expanded Experience (UK - BD RB)
Marcus agrees with Jack. "We have to go back!" to Lost Season 4 on Blu-ray
Previously on Lost...
Flight 815 is on its way to LA from Sydney when it disappears. We discover that the plane has crash landed on a mysterious island that appears to be a paradise, but turns out to be far more. Throughout season one, the survivors of 815 come up against polar bears, ghosts of their dead relatives, a batty old French woman and also discover a hatch hidden underneath the ground. All this and Walt (Malcolm David Kelley), a young boy who survived the crash is kidnapped by the islands original inhabitants, the Others. ‘We’re gonna have to take the boy.’
Into season two and after opening said hatch to discover the first of many Dharma stations (Dharma apparently being a research organisation that used to be based on the island) our losties get roped into pushing a button every one hundred and eight minutes or potentially the world will end. On top of that, the threat of the Others increases and there’s the added drama of discovering there are also survivors from the tail section of the downed plane. On top of all this there are ongoing visits from people or animals or objects that should not be on the island and seemingly have connections to the 815 survivors’ lives before they came to the island and then to put the cherry on the top of this already dramatic cake, John Locke (Terry O’Quinn), 815’s used to be in a wheelchair but can now walk guy has a crisis of faith, doesn’t push the button and the sky goes purple. ‘I was wrong.’
Season three, and Jack (Matthew Fox), the doctor who has to fix things, Kate (Evangeline Lilly), the killer on the run and Sawyer (Josh Holloway), the con man, have been captured by the Others and are all being held in another of the Dharma stations. The island, which incidentally is no longer invisible to the outside world, gets even more mysterious and we really begin to get a history of what this island may have been used for in the past—mainly through the back story of the Others’ leader, Benjamin Linus (Michael Emerson). We discover women cannot carry a full term of pregnancy on the island no matter how much the, ‘is she a goodie/ is she baddie?’ Juliette (Elizabeth Mitchell) tries in her research to fix the problem. We also get our first meetings with the mysteriously ageless Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell) and a glimpse at who we’re told is the master of ceremonies on the island, Jacob (man I wish I knew who played this guy), who is proper spooky.
The big cliff hanger for the season three, which left many a Lost fan chomping at the bit for more, involved making contact with a freighter just off shore, apparently there to rescue the losties, though many an islander feared the freighter is there for more heinous reasons. Countering all of that was a messed up Jack Shepherd, all whacked out on pills, bearded and trying to contact someone on the phone. This initially felt like a flashback story, which up to this point is how the show works episode by episode in order to fill us in on the islanders’ lives before they were islanders. However, the cliff hanger came with Jack finally getting in contact with who he was after and arranging to meet them at the airport. The person he contacted turns out to be Kate, another of 815’s survivors, and the realisation sets in that this was not a flashback at all. This was a flash forward and shows us that at least two of our losties managed to get off the island—even though Jack is insisting ‘we have to go back’.
So into season four and our islanders wait patiently for rescue, but Lost being Lost means this isn’t simple. For starters we immediately kick off in the future in an episode titled ‘The Beginning of the End’ where we meet up with another 815 survivor who has seemingly got off the island. I won’t say who it is as I know that Lost has quite a strong following of viewers who hold out for the complete experience on box set (I salute you for your patience), but they are arrested by the cops after a high speed car chase and whilst being restrained rant on about how they are one of the Oceanic 6. So yes, season four is already a whole new Lost experience. Not only do you go into each episode not sure if we are getting a flashback or flash forward but the first half of the season uses the new flash forward technique to let us know who these ‘six’ characters are who managed to leave the island are as well as worrying for those who seemingly haven’t. It’s actually a bloody good little television trick. Using the current story on the island with the losties waiting/fighting for rescue, countered with the many hints in the flash forward future stories that the events leading up to the rescue weren’t exactly ideal and even a bit of nightmare, you find the drama of the show turned up to eleven as the thirteen episodes play out.
As Lost has one of the most spoiler sensitive audiences out there and not everyone has seen the season I won’t give anything else away, but what I will say is this is one hell of a season. I’m not scared to admit that at this point in time I am a complete Lost geek and have been for a very long time. I went into the first season with very little background knowledge of the show other than knowing Charlie from Party of Five was in it joined by one of the hobbits and that funny tache’d guy from Millennium. A couple of episodes in and I was more intrigued than I have been with a TV show since the X-files and my only concern was that this couldn’t possibly sustain itself. I picked up the US season one boxset about midway through its run on UK’s airing schedule (yes I’m impatient) and over a weekend my wife and I blitzed through it. It became compulsive viewing and much more than just a show about castaways.
Despite being a little under whelmed with the season one finale, season two got me forever hooked. I adored everything there was to adore about the show and still regard it as my favourite of the seasons so far, if not of all television shows in general. The Dharma initiative stuff was a genius move and once again I’ll admit my geekiness but season two bought about my love of hitting forums after every episode and seeing the many Easter eggs and clues peppered throughout the episodes, whether it be the Dharma logo on a shark’s tale or Marvin Candle (François Chau) having a prosthetic arm and even a background ornament you see in the hatch that happens to also be in Kate’s flashback. Seriously I get great amounts of joy out of this stuff and there may be something wrong with me.
Season three wasn’t quite the same experience. As many a Lost fan will tell you, it had some problems, mainly due to scheduling and having huge chunks of weeks off during its run. It felt a little disjointed and really struggled to find its feet, especially when it came to what do with the losties on the beach camp, who played very much as second fiddle to the Others vs. Jack, Kate and Sawyer. However it was still by far the best show on television and when I re-watched it as a whole on DVD the problems I had with it initially were almost unnoticeable - as is the joy of TV boxset viewing.
As you can probably tell by this stage I am one of 'those' Lost fans. The ones who can talk with friends about the most farfetched of theories for hours and take great amounts of joy seeing if our theories play out or indeed don’t, which in all honesty is just as much fun. Lost just shines quality, out of a TV schedule that can sometimes feel a little flat and safe, relying on repetitive threads and refusing to push characters or indeed its audience forward. The fact that Lost gets lumped in with the likes of Heroes in the media infuriates me and is somewhat of an insult considering the un-chartable chasm in quality storytelling between the two shows.
With season four, I feel that Lost yet again managed to step up a gear. The show has an uncanny knack of upping its game and reinventing itself and with its makers officially confirming that the show would end in its sixth season, going into season four with an end in sight was sick-exciting. The season’s events really came with the feeling that we were finally getting the answers we’d been promised. I am so entwined in these characters fates at this point, that every little moment plays out perfectly, whether it be a knowing glance from Ben, a rash decision by Jack, or Locke blowing something else up. The fact the Lost creators feel confident enough to throw an episode like The Constant (which without giving anything away, is as kooky as it is genius) is a credit to the show's bravery.
Everything just feels perfectly natural and believable and important to the bigger story, which coming out of season four’s beautifully constructed thirteen episode run fills me with confidence that the impossible might happen and a TV show might deliver something more than just a convenient underwhelming conclusion that stifles many a classic TV show. Lost looks like it might actually go out on the super rewarding high that everyone involved in the show seems so adamant to uphold. I for one am on board and after coming out of my umpteenth viewing of season four, I’m filled with every confidence this will happen.
This was my first voyage into Lost in HD and it was immediately impressive. A big chunk of Lost is shot in exterior locations on a brightly lit Hawaiian beach and in dense tropical style forests so to say that it was made for an HD transfer isn’t too far a stretch.
Lost’s style comes with that slightly seventies look grain to the film stock which really makes the show looks every bit as good as a movie. What’s immediately apparent is just how sharp and detailed the image is. Skin tones are not only well presented but their textures are also very well captured. Jack’s grey stubble looks incredible as well as Ben’s blood soaked face clogging in every wrinkle. The grains of sand on the beach look amazing against the rich blue ocean and all in all anything that’s based outside looks nothing like I’d seen Lost ever before. It really was impressive.
It’s not all great though. Lost has never handled too well in darker scenes—never did on TV and never did on DVD. It does a better job on Blu-ray but it’s still problematic. The really dark areas of the frame can look a little muddy but never terrible and in some of the interior scenes that are low lit detail can suffer ever so slightly. That said, these are minor issues at best and I came away very impressed with the Blu-ray presentation of Lost. It’s just a shame that there seems to be no signs of the previous seasons hitting the format anytime soon.
Lost sounds great here. For a show based heavily on dialogue and with a fantastic score to sell its story and emotion, this mix does a very good job. Noticeable highlights include the use of the surround speakers when there are a lot of people in the scene. There was a real sense that many of the small pockets of surrounding characters were talking amongst themselves whilst the main dramatic dialogue was happening as the main focus. The atmospheric noises within the forests, underground bunkers and the freighter were all very well used within the surround speakers and quite frankly the smoke monster has never sounded so good but being in what seems an aggressive state probably helped that along its way.
Lost has built up a quite a stable of sounds unique to its storytelling over its four seasons and I’m glad to report that this has been thought about when all of these season box sets have been put together as it’s every bit as important as the other elements that makes this show so good.
First let me say that I’ve loved all of the Lost season boxset menu designs thus far and I’m glad they’ve stuck to the style. For those who may not have seen them, they use locations from the show and have the options dotted around the frame. It’s all very much in keeping with the shows visual style and I for one think more shows should take this much care and attention. Anyway, with this Blu-ray, there are even smoother and quicker transitions and the menu selections are even more enjoyable to skip around.
Most of the features are housed on disc five, but there are a few splattered throughout. Of course we get new spangled ‘season play’ where you can come and go from watching Lost and the disc plays back from where you left it. There’s a great little feature that was used to get people up to speed before the season aired on TV called ‘Lost in 8:15’, which gives you an eight minute catch up of everything that came before what you are about to see. I love stuff like this and it’s done with some wit to make it fun for even the most hardcore Lost fan who knows all this stuff already.
There are a handful of commentaries dotted about some select episodes, that come from cast and crew and all somehow manage to remain informative and fun. I especially dug Evangeline Lilly’s (Kate) goofing about with Jorge Garcia (Hurley) on the opening episode’s commentary track, it’s nice to hear actors having fun on a show and not taking it all too seriously.
Moving onto the big ol’ disc five features disc, I started with the Mobisodes or ‘Lost Missing Pieces’ (31:22). These were shown online and sent to mobile phones in the thirteen week build up to season four’s opener and turned out to be far more interesting than many gave them credit for. Essentially they are small moments that happened between the events of the last three seasons but rather than just being used as a way to let people catch up (which some are) the Lost creators actually laid down some incredibly big things to think about. The mobisode showing the Other’s reaction to what seems to be Walt’s apparent ‘powers’ when he was taken is staggering and the final mobisode featuring a spooky Christian Shepherd moments before Jack woke up in the season one opening scene is very exciting stuff. Basically what could have been mere fillers turn out to be every bit as involving and thought out as the actual show.
‘Lost on Location’ (41:54) which is split into eight chapters, focuses on the making of the episodes and is a great watch. There are interviews and a look at set ups and a lot of on-set footage showing how they do what they do—a great set of featurettes.
‘The Island Backlot: Lost in Hawaii’ (17:53) looks at the real island of Oahu in the South Pacific which the show is made on. This really shows off the magic of film making and just how diverse this island is. Every location in the show, no matter what country the story is set in, is recreated here. Iraq, Germany, England, you name it, they’ve built it. The set designers really do make miracles happen seamlessly and when they show off some of the CGI work that really sells the location, it’s incredibly impressive and more so unnoticeable (in the good way).
‘The Right To Bear Arms’ (11:15) initially feels like it might be a bit of a throwaway piece about the weapons of Lost, but once again it’s a featurette that really shows off how much thought goes into the show. This actually charts the journeys of what started out as a limited batch of guns in season one throughout the show’s run. Who had them, who they’ve ended up in the hands of and the poor guy that actually has the job of keeping a log about this sort of stuff and how he’s become the bane of the writers’ lives when he questions “which” gun they are referring to in their scripts. It’s a great watch.
‘Soundtrack of Survival’ (16:07) is three live recordings of the fantastic Lost score. This features the pieces: Character, Conflict and Crash and all in front of an audience.
'Lost Bloopers' (3:22) and deleted scenes (9:11) are all a lot of fun to look through. The nine deleted scenes all add a little weight to smaller moments within season four and are usually only cut for time reasons rather than being choppable fluff.
‘The Oceanic Six: Conspiracy of Lies’ (21:16) was a brilliant surprise. Rather than another featurette about who the six are, which wasn't what I expected, this is actually a fake TV style documentary about how the Oceanic Six’s story may be perceived in the real world. Told with a hokey voice over and featuring opinions from experts about the realism of the Oceanic 815 wreckage and how it could have been faked or discussing why none of these six survivors hair hadn’t grown or why they hadn’t lost weight is brilliant. There’s even a hint that these six may have eaten Boone, Libby and Charlie to stay alive and this is their big bad secret. This really is one for the fans and a nice addition to the reality of Lost.
The Freighter Folk (12:40) introduces us to the shows newbies, Miles, Daniel, Frank, Keamy and Charlotte and ‘Off Shore Shoot’ (7:50) shows us the complications that came with filming on a freighter in the middle of the ocean.
Now you’d think that would be enough, but Lost season four has more up its sleeve. ‘Course of the Future: The Definitive Interactive Flash Forwards’ is a great little addition to help us along with this new way of telling the story. We get a small intro from the show runners Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof (2:27) then a little game in which we have to put the flash forward scenes into chronological order. As someone who prides himself on following this stuff closely, I had a few issues with a couple of the scenes. This was the first game on Blu-ray or DVD that I’d played that didn’t have a series of pauses and annoyance between selections. It flows seamlessly and is very playable given the fact you can do multiple things at the same time without the disc having to catch up.
Anyway once you’ve cracked that you get the opportunity to watch all of the flash forward scenes in a number of ways—either one long run, which actually solidifies these events nicely or you can follow any of the characters who got off the island (again I won’t name them to save the surprises). On top of this you can watch them with script and story excerpts from the Lost writers.
There’s meant to be a whole batch of Easter Eggs as is usual with Lost but I’ve not found any at the time of this review.
Phew, Lost season four watched again with all the features was a blast. Lost works well enough on TV but watching it back to back at your own pace is always a great way to revisit the best show out there.
I am a huge fan of Lost, so I’ve probably responded to all of this with a heightened sense of reward, but there’s no denying that what we have here is a show that takes advantage of its Blu-ray possibilities as well as catering for its fans with a wealthy set of informative and interesting features and there’s nothing more you can ask for as a fan of Lost (except, maybe more Marvin Candle).
Oh, and what’s even better is season five begins January 21st 2009 in the US and hopefully not long after in the UK.
*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 20th October 2008
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 Italian, Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, DTS 5.1 Italian, DTS 5.1 Spanish, PCM 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, English for th Hearing Impared, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Portuguese, Dutch
Extras: Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Inereactive Flash Forwards, Series Play
Easter Egg: No
Director: Jack Bender, Paul A. Edwards, Stephen Williams, Eric Laneuville, Stephen Semel
Cast: Matthew Fox, Michael Emerson, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Henry Ian Cusick, Terry O'Quinn
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Sci-Fi and Thriller
Length: 598 minutes
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