“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”
Family. Loyalty. Distrust. Chaos. These are just some of the themes that permeate that world of Animal Kingdom. From the very first moments of the pilot to the final minutes of the season finale, you get a true sense that this working-class crime family is a lot like every other family.
Sure, we don’t all prosper from organized crime schemes, robberies, or physical altercations for the sake of monetary or personal gain, but we all have a circle of people whom we are loyal to. A group of people – whether they are family or close friends – with whom we confide, we commiserate, and we oftentimes collide. But no matter the inner turmoil within the circle, when an outside begins to cause problems, the interpersonal issues fade away; and animal instincts take over.
The first season of Animal Kingdom introduces us to the Cody family, led by matriarch Janine (Ellen Barkin) who doesn’t take crap from anyone – including her sons. She’s a tough-as-nails, strong-willed, yet compassionate heroine who can be your best friend one minute and your worst enemy the next. It is through her motherly manipulation that she’s able to control the criminal enterprise she has built with the help of her sons; a group of men with their own sets of issues and behavioral problems.
We initially see the series through “J” (Finn Cole) who is Janine’s grandson. After his mother passes away, he comes to live with the Codys and boy is he in for a surprise! What he thought would be a refuge from the drug-addled and impoverished world he left behind soon becomes a chaotic circus of criminal antics, wild parties, sex-filled debauchery, and gun, explosions, fist fights, and much more. It’s a lot for a 17-year-old to take in, and taking the journey with him is as much exhilarating as it is exhausting.
As for Janine’s four sons, there’s enough personality to go around with some to spare as the Cody boys ramp up the crimes, the violence, and the paranoia as events go from good, to bad, to worse as the family grapples with the potential of getting busted by the cops, impending arrests, and the fear that their empire could be shut down for good.
Animal Kingdom is great TV. It’s dark, edgy, exciting, amusing, and fast-paced. The blu-ray comes with a number of great special features, which include:
Inside Animal Kingdom
Producers and cast provide an inside look.
Animal Kingdom: Stunts
Exciting sports action from surfing to skydiving.
Meet the Codys
Reach into the heart of the diabolical family.
Getting Into Character
Creating the criminally cool characters.
Setting The Stage
Production designer Nina Ruscio and the team reveal the secrets of Smurf’s domain.
Family Comes First
Cast and producers explore Season One’s family dynamics.
If you’re looking for a new series to begin, I highly recommend Animal Kingdom: The Complete First Season! It truly is the Golden Age of Television Drama!
Animal Kingdom is available now on Blu-ray and DVD!