Learn more Download now Shop now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more

on 18 August 2014
so creepy that i threw it away in the garbage can, didnt even want it in the house.
33 Comments|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 June 2016
This made for Tv series from 2003 is a dark fantasy mystery set in a travelling freak show come carnival and takes place in the Depression-era Dust Bowl between 1934 and 1935. The first episode sees Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl) evicted unceremoniously from his farmstead upon the death of his mother and is taken in by a passing carnival. A second story arc follows Brother Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown), who has prophetic visions. As the series progresses both men become aware they have strange powers, but what are they and where will it lead.
The first episode opened strongly stating it was a battle between good and evil insinuating it would be filled with mythology while the ‘freak-show’ angle suggested a large cast of alternative characters with varied abilities, but the pace was a little slow [lose a *], ultimately causing viewing figures to drop by 1/3 for the second episode. The visual accuracy of the series is undeniable and the characterisation becomes so deep and multi faceted that the actual plot and mythology seems to be side-lined making the middle of the series quite plodding and tiring work [lose a *] never really getting anywhere until the series finale.
Each of the 6 discs carries 2 episodes with the following features; a series index and making of documentary or commentary, the language selection is audio [5.1 default, or 2.0 in English, Francais or Magyar] while subtitles are in 14 languages, mainly European]. Selecting the episode goes to a plot summary. With scenes of attempted rape, graphic suicide attempts, shootings, death, ghosts, themes of prostitution, murder and some full frontal nudity and use of the F word, this will offend some viewers. It has similarities to the much later ‘Heroes—season 4 volume 5 [2009]’ with a ‘Twin Peaks’ feel but lacks the haunting music and it’s overtly surreal world.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 10 November 2013

Carnivale was a TV series that ran for 2 series on HBO between 2003 and 2005, concerning a growing (fictional) battle between good and evil back in 1930s America, between a being of light and a being of darkness. A serious and sombre affair, particularly in the beginning, the series had an apocalyptic, Ragnarok-like feel about it, which made it very heavy-going in the early stages and probably led to the series' own cancellation. However, with high production values and a lot of effort put into making its Depression era authentic, and with some fine performances the show is well worth a look.

The show has 2 concurrently-running storylines, one centred on a young farmer boy, Ben Hawkins, who joins a travelling circus show which meanders its way through numerous American states, and one about the rise (and troubles) of an increasingly disturbed preacher man by the name of Brother Justin, based in California. It becomes increasingly obvious that a confrontation is due between the two, and that they are connected in some way. The question is which is good, and which is evil?

An epic show, for sure, and a pity that it only had 2 series to wrap its storylines up. However there's 2 things that have to be said - this series is at times very slow, and at times very serious ( particularly this season). The first half of the season might leave viewers wondering if the storyline's actually going to go anywhere at all, and whether its protagonist and antagonist will ever actually meet, despite a few tantalising moments where they are apparently in the same room. However, the show's disconcerting style (with supernatural moments combining with brief dreams and nightmares for the central characters) means you're not always sure what's a premonition, or a 'power', or just a disturbing flashback. Sometimes world events get thrown in to add both dramatic clout and texture - such as the first nuclear test, which is featured in both seasons, the 1st world war, famous boxing matches, and so on, whilst the titles, which feature Stalin, FDR, the Ku Klux Klan and so on, also achieve this effect.

Another issue is that the characters aren't always exactly the bunch of loveable rogues - notably the carnies - that one might expect, and take some time to warm to in season 1 despite the enormous amount of time in developing them, and their world, at the expense of driving the plot. Sampson, the diminutive leader of the troupe, is well-played by former Twin Peaks star Michael J Anderson, who opens each season with a straight-to-camera monologue, yet seems pragmatic and money-grabbing to the point of being utterly uncaring (note the sequence when he visits a prostitute). The limping yet tough Jonesy (Sampson's 2nd in command, and a kind of unofficial 'foreman' for the carnies) has a strange naivety that despite his rugged decency simply makes bad situations even worse. Sofie, who initially appears to be a straight 'love interest' figure for Ben, is an enigma, being both highly emotional yet reserved and sometimes calculated, and even her sexuality remains fluid. The blind, sinister mentalist Lodz, played by Patrick Barchau, is probably the stand-out among the supporting cast, particularly in the early stages of s1, and his almost creepy obsession with Ben's powers is the main plot-driving device here, the actor also having great on-screen chemistry with Debra Christofferson who plays his partner, Lila the bearded lady. Toby Huss heads the Dreifuss family, whose women dance the 'cootch' (striptease) and supply other 'favours' to the customers, bringing in some much-needed humour later on. A more alarming presence though is Diane Salinger, as Sofie's mother, who is catatonic for almost all her screen time and who therefore feels slightly wasted.

However the acting is of a high standard, and the leads - notably Clancy Brown as Brother Justin - are great. Nick Stahl gives Ben a heady mix of panic, suffering, seriousness and reluctance, which despite his anti-social behaviour and mistrust of many of his new colleagues (often with good reason) makes him a sympathetic anti-hero. But it's Brown, brilliantly supported by Amy Madigan as his devoted sister Iris, who really makes the show - with his deep voice, fixed glare, curled lip and sinister manner, the moral downfall, breakdown and rebirth of Brother Justin as an increasingly dangerous threat is carried off by the actor fantastically. The twisted, sexually-charged relationship between Justin and Iris is as compelling as it is unsettling.

Take a trip with the Carnivale, then, and you won't be disappointed - as long as this season you're not expecting shootouts and explosions! But stick with it, and in s2 all will be revealed...
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 28 January 2013
Bought this because it was HBO which is usually a sign of quality, and because the storyline appeared to be interesting. But... well, we'll come to the buts later, lets start with the good parts. It recreates the period - or at least how someone from the UK imagines that period - beautifully with great attention to detail. It does not let itself down here. The furnishings, the cars, the ragged clothes, the dusty country roads, are all here. And the plot - yes in theory the story could be a good one. If only they had got around to telling it. Several episodes in, the supernatural aspects of the plot (the bit people actually buy it for) stalled and they filled the episodes by substituting a soap about the affairs and love interests of a group of travelling show-people. Regularly swapping to a seemingly separate plot about a demonic preacher, but even there the extra-marital liaisons got greater air time. Sporadically something supernatural happened (I think) presumably to keep our interest (no chance), but by the time the series dragged its way to the end terminal boredom had already set in. It's the first HBO series I've watched where I've had no interest in buying the follow-up. I gave it a couple of stars for the sets and cinematography.
11 Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 4 October 2013
Truly awful. Bitterly regret having bought it. Regret watching almost half of it in the hope it might get better. God knows what they're all up to in those caravans. Is it allegory? Is it satire? Who cares. It's a dud and a pretentious one at that.[[ASIN:B000EHPOMI Carnivale: Complete HBO Season 2 [DVD]
22 Comments|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 June 2011
Having first watched both seasons of this magnificent HBO TV drama on their first UK TV airing some years ago (on 'FX', so often a channel that excelled at broadcasting quality programmes) then bought the DVDs of them soon after, I am writing this review now as I see it has just started being re-broadcast, this time on 'Sky Atlantic' and I want to help promote it for others to enjoy as much as I did and perhaps own on DVD.

Produced by HBO when they were already riding the crest of a wave (which I'm not sure they've fallen from yet !) with their other marvellous productions such as 'The Sopranos', 'Six Feet Under' and what was then their newest series 'The Wire', 'Carnivale' was really something quite different. It shared the same excellent cast/acting and superb screenplay but added an unmatched level of production values, which also made the programme both stylish and sumptuous to watch.

For some reason best known to themselves, Amazon UK have chosen not to 'honour' the DVD item page for Season 1 with any kind of synopsis (they do for Season 2), so below is a paste from the Amazon USA website as it does the job well enough and it saves me trying (!) :

Carnivàle doesn't waste any time making its--wildly ambitious--aims clear. As carnival manager Samson (Michael J. Anderson, Twin Peaks' diminutive backwards-talker) notes in pilot episode "Milfay," directed by Rodrigo García (son of Gabriel García Marquez), "To each generation [is] born a creature of light and a creature of darkness." With that the story begins. The year is 1934, the setting the Oklahoma dustbowl. In short order, Ben Hawkins (In the Bedroom's Nick Stahl) loses his mother and his home. He's poor, he's alone--he needs a job. So he joins Samson's carnival, en route to the West. Hawkins, naturally, is the good guy. Waiting for him in California is the not so good Brother Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown, The Shawshank Redemption), a fire and brimstone preacher with supernatural powers and a fiercely loyal sister (Amy Madigan). Hawkins, as it turns out, has similar powers....

To say much more than I have by praising the programme, stating the qualities it possesses and recommend it to you is really quite enough. However, you might also have seen Nick Stahl play the lead role in 'Terminator 3' and the incredible acting skills of Clancy Brown as 'The Kurgan' in 'Highlander ! If you want to get a taste for what you are going to let yourself in for before buying, why not sample the first minute or so of the Season 1 trailer (not all of it as it reveals too much) which is available for playback on a well known video website ? It's also worth observing that it rightly has a '15' viewing certificate.....

The only other 2 things to mention in passing are :

1. Whilst the series did get cancelled after 2 of the planned 6 seasons, aside from each season existing quite adequately in their own right, the culmination of season 2 does reach some kind of satisfactory conclusion to elements of what has already passed - although it does obviously leave open scope for further production (cancellation came either at the end or just after it, so the screenplay was already established for the intend further seasons...).

2. This Region 2 DVD does not omit anything significant compared to other regions - it's audio/video presentation does justice to the quality of the source material and includes 3 x commentaries and a featurette.

*** Whilst I will mention it in my separate review, this is apparently NOT the case for the Season 2 Region 2 DVD issue ! It is reviewed as having significant problems with the video transfer and there are websites showing the problems. I took heed of the warnings and bought a Region 1 edition without even contemplating buying the Region 2 offering...

So, if you can't catch this superb drama on TV why not get it on DVD instead ?

Either way you will be watching a beautifully shot, well-acted and written drama which is both highly original and capable of stirring deep emotions - it is a truly wonderful TV experience.
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 5 February 2007
I was lead to rent this series by the enticing promotional strap-line: "where Twin Peaks meets PJ Barnum". I was absolutely spellbound by david Lynch's Twin Peaks but found Carnivale serie 1, less than satisfying. The recreation of the period sets, are brilliant and conveyed a plausible visual representation of John Steinbeck's classic, Grapes of Wrath. However, I found the plot meandering and the story-line often obscure with too many detours into byways that seemed to have little bearing on the particular scene. It did not help that I found Ben the central character's mumbling inarticulacy, irritating. On the other hand I thought Michael J Anderson's performance (Samson the dwarf), thoroughly engaging. As a story, there were too many false leads for my liking and too many loose ends and unanswered questions by the end of the series. The series undoubtedly grows on one with each episode but on the whole would have benefitted from a tighter script and a firmer directorial hand. I will not be rushing to view series 2.
22 Comments| 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 20 June 2016
This box-set as a standalone purchase has nothing wrong with it, be it package or content. But beware! The story/production/acting is SO good, that you'll get hooked. So, you'll buy the Second season too, which has the same merits. Maybe you'll get even more hooked, and TAHT is where the bad news come along...
The production was so top-notched that it became quite expensive, so HBO decided to discontinue the series. Now, they say that they belive that the series have an adequate ending as it is, but boy are they lying! Just when the gears have been set in motion for a big finale, the confrontation of the two main antagonists has just started, just as it's been revealed to us what they truly are, what are the powers that be, and what's at stake... THE END.
Not even a special feature length episode to wrap things up, for those of us who where invested in the characters and the lore.
Shame, HBO, for you have given us many fine series to shine out there. Shame...
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 11 April 2005
"Carnivale" has now become my favourite show. I didn't know much about it when I got the first season on DVD for Christmas. I just knew that it looked like something that I'd really like. It seemed to have that strangeness and darkness that I find so fascinating at times. I think it only took two episodes, and I was hooked. I finished the 12 episodes in less than two weeks. Never has a show grab my attention like "Carnivale." It is one of the most unique, beautiful and disturbing shows I have ever seen.
The year is 1934, a pretty dark and depressing time in history. A traveling carnival finds Ben Hawkins, a restless kid that has a lot of mystery to him. He turns out to have a rather remarkable gift of healing, but he has yet to learn the true power of it... or the consequences. States and states away is Brother Justin Crowe, a man of God. He has always tried to serve the Lord to the best of his abilities, until he starts finding out strange things about himself. A darkness within that reveals itself little by little until it is all clear what his real purpose is. This sets the stage for the ultimate battle between good and evil. Even though Ben and Justin have not met each other, they know their paths will meet eventually.
The first season is really a set-up of things to come, but boy does it ever hook you in. The show is so well-written and well-acted. At first, you're not entirely sure what's happening, but with each episode you learn a little more. It doesn't cheat, either. Everything is in there for a reason, even if it's not very clear at the beginning. Out of the 12 episodes in this first season, I did not fine a single episode that I didn't like. All of the episodes are intense and mesmerizing. Nick Stahl is terrific as "Ben Hawkins" and you really buy into his role right from the word, "Go." The showstopper, in my opinion, is Clancy Brown, who plays "Brother Justin." He is absolutely amazing in this show. One of the best characters from a series in recent years.
If you plan to check out "Carnivale," then you really have to give it a chance. You have to let it soak into you. It'll take at least two episodes to really pull you in. It is a very complex show, so if you're looking for something simplistic, stay clear from this. Also, the show can be extremely violent at times. While it's not gratuitous, there are more than a few uneasy and disturbing scenes that will get to you, so be prepared for that. The show looks BEAUTIFUL and the sound is superb.
"Carnivale" is a phenomenal show. It's really set my standards high when it comes to new shows, now. After seeing this, it's hard for any other show to really grab me. As soon as you finish the first season, you'll immediately want to watch the next season... hopefully that'll come out soon (if you thought this season was wild, you haven't seen nothin' yet!) If you're looking for a creative and challenging show, this is the one for you. Just be careful. There's no turning back once you cross that road. See how it all begins and witness the miracle that is "Carnivale." -Michael Crane
11 Comment| 43 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 18 May 2009
I am very unsure about Carnivale. The overall feel of the show is amazing. The set design and costumes really capture the period and the style of the series is very interesting and original. The acting is also of a very high quality.
However this is all seriously let down by the writing of the show. It's not that any particular episode or scene is badly written - quite the opposite in fact. But the overall story arc for the series is seriously lacking. It is very clear after watching a few episodes that the writers have given little thought to linking things together and the idea of logically following idea's through has been thrown out the window. Instead the story jumps from one event to another with no real flow and sub-plots seem to take over while the main story is neglected. The twists and turns along the way just seem to take away from rather than add to the story making things feel drawn out.
Also the characters which on the surface all seem very interesting are again let down by the writers/overall story. There is no significant character development throughout the series (even in the 2 main characters) and as far as back-stories for the characters are concerned this is kept to a total minimum.
Overall this could have been an amazing series if the same amount of focus had being given to the story as was evidently give to the design, acting and pretty much every other aspect of the show.
11 Comment| 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Need customer service? Click here

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)