The Fades: Season One Blu-ray Review
Directed by Farren Blackburn & Tom Shankland
Written by Jack Thorne
2011, Region A (NTSC), 338 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on February 21st, 2012
Iain De Caestecker as Paul
Daniel Kaluuya as Mac
Johnny Harris as Neil
Natalie Dormer as Sarah
Lily Loveless as Anna
Tom Ellis as Mark
Daniela Nardini as Helen
Sophie Wu as Jay
Poor Paul. It's bad enough that he and best friend Mac are such outcasts at school that even kids two years their junior make fun of him, but he also has bed-wet causing apocalyptic dreams. This might be all well and good if he were 5, but Paul is 17. After he witnesses a horrific creature attack a stranger, Paul's dreams get worse, he starts seeing ghosts (or Fades) and he finds out that he's the chosen one in a battle of good versus evil to save his town, and ultimately the world, from the flesh eating beasties.
It's difficult not comparing The Fades to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. Both shows have a hero that is unaware of their power, both have the polar opposite sidekick, both have an adult pushing them to fight for the cause and in both characters are teenagers forced into a fight they want no part of, but reluctantly lead because it's the right thing to do. Yet, similarities aside, in just six episodes (which is all this first season is) The Fades shows that it has the capability of being far darker than Buffy could ever hope to be.
The Fades is one of those shows that will take at least a season to find its footing, but once it does it has the potential to be a freight train of awesome. I have to admit, the first two episodes are mediocre as you get the story of Paul, his developing powers, the Angelics (those fighting the Fades) and the start of some side stories that take place throughout this first season. But by episode three, things move along nicely as the set pieces are in place and its time to get down to business. Episode four, the best in this first season, truly shows how nasty the show can be and how it is completely fearless in what it's willing to put the characters through. Where I watched an episode a night the first three days after receiving this set for review, I knocked out the remaining three in one evening. It gets that good that fast.
The acting in The Fades is fantastic. Iain de Caestecker really is great as the painfully shy Paul. He shines the most with his character's conversations with Jay (Sophie Wu) as the two awkwardly start a relationship. Johnny Harris rocks as Neil Valentine, the man responsible for guiding Paul on the path with the Angelics. Valentine is a troubled soul, filled with angst and turmoil and Harris has you loving and hating the character at the same time. And while she is astoundingly cookie-cut, Lily Loveless does an admirable job as Anna, Paul's bitchy twin sister with the inevitable good heart buried under a lot of anger. Joe Dempsie is fantastic as John, leader of the Fades and primary antagonist. You so much want to like him, and every time you buy into his game, he turns on you. Jenn Murray is effectively creepy as John's number one follower Natalie.
Yet the stand out of this first season, hands down, is Daniel Kaluuya as Mac. While he's certainly relegated to the wacky sidekick, Kaluuya effortlessly adds a little more depth to the character than you generally see in that role. Mac seems to breeze through life without a care in the world, but as it usually goes with these sorts of people, there is definitely some trouble in paradise. When more of Mac's home life is developed, it's a bit crushing and that is due to Kaluuya's ability to sell what is a somewhat stereotyped character. He is at the very top of his game in episode four, where he's dealing with guilt over a particular situation with Paul. I won't go as far to say that Kaluuya makes the show, but The Fades would definitely suffer more without him than anyone else.
As mentioned before, The Fades is one of those shows that is going to have find its footing before being an amazing series (which you can see glimpses of this potential). There are some unnecessary plotlines that thus far seem pointless — like how Sarah (Natalie Dormer) a once-Angelic-now-Fade keeps haunting her ex-husband — and some of the pop culture dialog seems really forced at times, but the good in this season far outweighs any of the bad. If you haven't seen it yet, do so now before series two starts and you won't be behind. While it has a bit of a slow start, it picks up speed quickly and finishes off really strong. Give it a spin.
Video and Audio:
While The Fades does an admirable job nailing detail, colors and skintone, the video does suffer at times with black levels, appearing murky instead of deep and lush.
The DTS HD-MA 2.0 gets it done with no major complaints. Dialog is always clear and never overpowered by either music or effects. The minor issue, though, is this is one that should have been at least a 5.1 mix. Don't get me wrong, the 2.0 is admirable, but this show has ghosts and scares throughout and a better mix would have amped the enjoyment.
- Mac Explains
- Extra Scenes
- Deleted Scenes
- Behind the Scenes
In the Mac Explains featurettes, Mac answers the questions: What is a Fade? What is Ascension? What is an Angelic? How is Everyone Connected? Why is Paul Special? What is a Reborn? Even though this is somewhat a recap of the show, it's nice to have if you missed something.
The extra scenes consist of Paul and Mac discussing movie trivia, pop culture and other random things teenage boys talk about. This is amusing in parts and actually works better than some of the forced conversation I mentioned above.
There are six deleted scenes offered, each with an introduction by either the director or producer. With the exception of one (a very awkward yet touching scene with Mac and his father), it's easy to see why they were left on the cutting room floor.
The behind-the-scenes offering is just a fluff piece. Consisting of six featurettes at about two minutes a pop, they can be skipped altogether unless you can't get enough of the show. Interviews with Johnny Harris and Natalie Dormer consist of two of the six featurettes and don't offer much in depth. However, Dormer is so damn pretty, I have no complaints about her interview.
Outtakes are outtakes. Like most, these seem to be more for the cast than the viewer.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are not a reflection of the Blu-ray image. They are promotional images.*
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