His Dark Materials: The Complete Second Season Blu-ray Review: Entertaining Adaptation of Popular Book Series

There was an era in the 2000s in which movie studios were desperate to find the next The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. They would scope out every popular book series that could be found and attempt to adapt it, mostly resulting in failure. The Golden Compass, while the initial entry in a very popular book series, was a dismal film and shuttered the possibility of bringing the rest of the series to the big screen.

As we’ve witnessed on more than one occasion, studios believe in second chances. Sometimes, they don’t work in the franchise’s favor (Fantastic Four). In the case of His Dark Materials, another go-around proved to be beneficial for both fans and critics alike.

Picking up where the first season ended, His Dark Materials focuses on Lyra (Dafne Keen) as she enters the city of Cittagàzze. While pursuing the location of Lord Asriel, she meets a boy named Will (Amir Wilson), who comes from an alternate version of her home city of Oxford. He’s unlike Lyra and the others whom she encounters, as he does not have a daemon. Will’s father disappeared more than a decade ago, and he is on a mission to discover his location. At the same time, Will may hold a special power that so few have. And with Lyra assisting him, the two also have to come face to face with witches and the Magisterium that are looking for them.

Having already established most of the characters in the first season, His Dark Materials returns to expand on their development and introduce many new people along the way. The first season focused on the first book, The Golden Compass, and this season focuses on the second book in the series, The Subtle Knife. While a bit darker this time around, the series still maintains its thrilling and adventurous feel without taking itself too seriously.

The second season does take a few episodes before it fully kicks into gear. Some characters also don’t get much to do and just serve as plot explainers. But this is still an entertaining and well-crafted series, with a great performance by Keen in the main role. Ruth Wilson and Lin-Manuel Miranda are some of the other returning actors for this season. Wilson is still captivating as the mysterious member of the Magisterium and Lyra’s mother. Miranda has a lot of fun with his role as Lee Scoresby, and also excels when his storyline goes in a different direction.

Due to the unfortunate pandemic, His Dark Materials season two had to be cut from eight episodes to seven. The last episode of the season was a setup for a special standalone, featuring a prominent figure in the series. But that was changed, and it’s uncertain how they’re going to incorporate that planned episode into season three. No matter how they approach it, you can guarantee that I will be ready for the series’ return.

Season Two of His Dark Materials has been released on Blu-ray by HBO and Warner Bros. in a two-disc set that contains all seven episodes. The resolution is 1080p and captures the scenery and special effects excellently. There are also plenty of special features for fans of the show to dig through. The special features include deep dives into certain characters such as Lee Scoresby, the world-building aspect of the series, and some behind-the-scenes features as well.

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David Wangberg

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