9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2011
I didn't know what to expect when I saw the previews. Steve Buscemi is an odd, but interesting actor, and I generally like most of the things that he has done. Well, from the opening chords and intro of the first episode, I knew that this would be something worth watching. With HBO, you know that you are going to probably get something that is pretty decent, but I have to see that this is one of the best series that I have ever seen, and I think the other reviews you'll see will give the show high praise.
I am surprised it has taken so long for the set to come out, nonetheless, a great gift even if it doesn't arrive in time for Christmas!
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Atlantic City, 1920. The war has just ended, Prohibition has just started, and a new breed of criminal is on the rise.
Based on the true-life story of Enoch "Nucky" Johnson, this brilliant HBO series brutally kicks aside any romantic notions we might have had about the flappers'n'bathtub-gin era of American history. It's bloody, sexual, and full of cruel ruthless men who are saved from being TOTALLY despicable by little acts of kindness.
Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (Steve Buscemi) is the unofficial boss of Atlantic City. While officially only the state treasurer, he actually has his fingers in every business in the city -- and now that Prohibition has started, he's also the boss of the bootlegging biz in New Jersey. His creepy brother is the sheriff, so he basically controls the cops as well.
However, his "boardwalk empire" is constantly under threat. His protoge Jimmy (Michael Pitt) is involved in a whiskey robbery that ends up becoming a huge bloody mess, and soon fanatical Prohibition agent Van Allen (Michael Shannon) arrives to uncover what REALLY happened. So now Nucky must fend off the Feds, as well as dealing with a lynched black gangster, boardwalk thefts, the "Celtic Dinner," and weeks of pre-election politicking.
And while all this is going on, Nucky is forced to play hardball with Jimmy, who is now wanted by the New York mob. He also becomes acquainted with Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald), a lovely young Irish widow who appeals to Nucky in a way his sleazy showgirl mistress does not.
There are only twelve episodes of "Boardwalk Empire Season 1," and somehow that's never quite enough -- they're packed with so much blood, sex, politics, murder, booze and subterfuge that it's dizzying to watch. And there are at least a dozen intricate subplots, all of which are constantly changing from one episode to the next.
And the writers are unafraid to unleash some really graphic violence (head blown off, severed fingers, a shooting where the guy's BLOOD SPLATTERS ON THE CAMERA LENS), as well as exploring the ugly underbelly of this glamorized age. The dialogue is strong, quick and peppered with the F-word, and the characters are outlined carefully by the stories they often tell (such as Chalky informing a KKK jerk about how his dad died).
And how do they manage to make us actually LIKE these cruel, ruthless characters like Nucky, Jimmy and Luciano? Well, just when you're preparing to hate them... they suddenly reveal a soft spot for premature babies, or they tear up about their deaf child. Steve Buscemi is absolutely wonderful as Nucky -- he's a wise-cracking, politically savvy bootlegger, but you do NOT want to cross this guy.
And there are some great smaller performances by the pretty-faced Pitt, Macdonald, Shannon, Shea Wigham, Stephen Graham, and a lot of other solid actors. The one downside? Paz de la Huerta as Nucky's mistress Daisy -- she's basically there to lounge around naked in almost every scene, whining in a creepy little-girl voice about random topics.
"Boardwalk Empire Season 1" is a rich, amazingly-written slice of American history -- that is, the American history that is often glossed over because of its ugliness. A must see.
While it doesn’t have quite the depth, and emotional power of The Wire, Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, its epic view of prohibition era Atlantic City is a wonderfully acted and directed, beautifully production designed and photographed and intelligently written.
It takes a different tack than The Godfather or The Sopranos; it doesn’t focus on the gangster experience as the dark side of the struggling US immigrant dream, the outgrowth of trying to care for your family in a society that places material wealth above all. Steve Buscemi’s Nucky Thompson is already at the top, and he’d rather stay on top through political smarts and manipulation than violence when he can. He’s not an everyman, not a family man. He’s a loner who tried to bury his humanity when his wife died, and now focuses on growing his position as the real power in Atlantic City. He’s not obsessed with honor or codes. He’s more interested in being behind the throne than the focus of the headlines. A man of immense practicality. A charming, smooth, sophisticated businessman who happens to be utterly corrupt and utterly powerful. He’s a great anti-hero for now, when the villains of society are running the corporate-political machinery, not the neigborhood.
It’s also different from it’s predecessors in that its truly an ensemble piece. Nucky may be at the center, but we get to know a huge number of fascinating and well-drawn characters in surprising depth. The series is more mosaic than character study (one of the reasons it’s not really an emotional experience).
I resisted the show the first time through, because it lacked the kind of strange empathy that anti-hero shows like Breaking Bad and Sopranos traded in, But on second viewing, knowing that it was doing something closer to “Nashville” in it’s brilliant if distanced overview of a moment and place in America, I was able to be completely caught up and absorbed in its tremendous attention to detail, and richness of character
I wasn't drawn into True Blood as much as I tried (gave them three seasons before giving up), and I only recently got into Game of Thrones, but I hadn't heard a single thing about Boardwalk Empire, so I was completely innocent as to what the series held... and once I watched the first episode, I wasn't glued... I was nailed. Not that I had to watch every episode in a run, but I always looked forward to discovering Nucky Thompson's world and how Prohibition was being held...
Boardwalk Empire presented itself to me with likeable characters (not all of them, granted), a pilot directed by Martin Scorsese and plot twists that didn't feel as forced as True Blood's (I seem to hate True Blood, but not at all, it's just not cut out for me even though it was okay). The 1920s were a different time indeed and it's nice to see how taboos of then are treated into the actual storyline. It makes me see the period in a very different light and this series knows how to pull the right strings for me. I'm anxiously waiting to finish this season and begin the second one, because there's just such an attention to details, characters, backgrounds, dialogues... This is one series I won't mind at all to watch over and over again.
As far as special features are concerned, you will find quite a load to be satisfied: A making of featurette, an enhanced viewing mode, a creation of the boardwalk, character profiles, a look at Atlantic City, a tour of speakeasies (illegal bars) and six audio commentaries... it doesn't look like much, but most of these features run over 30 minutes and truly convey interesting facts on the shooting of this series.
I didn't expect to be drawn as much as I was into this. If you're into historical dramas (Mildred Pierce is next on my list, right after Boardwalk Season 2), or have an interest in the Prohibition era, this is a show that has it all and then some (for me at least).
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2011
This series should be added to your mobsters' collection. Steve Buscemi is perfect as Nucky Thompson and the rest of the cast is simply captivating (Micheal Pitt's performance needs to be mentionned!). The clothes, decors and music really take you back to the 20's. If American History classes were half this interresting, kids would eat them up! Like most of HBO's series, you won't be disappointed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 14, 2014
Boardwalk Empire is one of those rare shows that get better and better each season and three continues that trend. New characters mixed with the traditional ones makes this series wonderful. After each espoide you can't wait to see the next one! Definitely a must buy if you liked the first two seasons.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Well done as usual HBO! This one is as big as I've seen yet!! By the way, I mean big set, big costumes, big acting, etc. (I'm sure you get the point!) I really enjoyed this series, it's so mesmerizing and grandiose it's almost distracting from the plot and acting at times. The viewer gets so heavily submerged into the 20's you honestly feel like you're living it. I have no complaints about this series, everything from writing to directing is far above my expectations, making this series one that can't be missed! I love how open the storyline is, I can see this series getting really violently "nasty" in the next few seasons. A must for anybody with an appreciation for time periods, "gangster/mob" flicks, or anyone who just enjoys some incredible substantial viewing. It's so good it's an instant classic, hope this helps, enjoy your popcorn!!
on May 5, 2013
Fabulous in so many ways. Lots of sex and violence as a back drop to the complexity that is the United States at an intriguing moment in its history. So many good ideas (like democracy, even prohibition but not of tobacco) subject to greed, corruption and a willingness to look away if personal advantage is at stake. The acting is astonishing, especially by Steve Buscemi, but many many others. The creation of Atlantic City in the early 1920s is a tour de force. It's a gangster series but the gangsters are oh so young (well some of them are). It is also a story of the immigrant experience and the significance of race (and the horrors of racism) and the appearance of Michael Kenneth Williams (who played my favourite character in The Wire) is wonderful. The features are well worth looking at.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 31, 2013
BRIGHT WHITE HARD TOP Code: VRL $2600
Was everything that I expected. To see all of the famous people and their beginnings into the mobster world was great. The first season give y insight has to what is coming up next season. I have purchased season 2 & 3 so far
on February 9, 2015
This is sort of a tricky one. This season, in itself, is excellent. It's well written, well made, well acted drama, with excellent production values. The problem is, you shouldn't allow yourself to be drawn in, because the series plummets downhill drastically after the first season, and descends pretty much to the point of worthless, drivelling garbage by the end of the third season. So, yes, it's worth watching this season. But resist the urge to follow the series any further, because you'll just get sucked into a mire of obnoxious rubbish, which will do nothing but annoy you and convince you of the futile worthlessness of human endeavour.