Wrap Up : The Defenders

Daredevil season 1 and 2, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, all lead up this cross over small screen event. So how was it? Well its a bit of a mixed bag. Lets start with the pros, and I think there are maybe equal pros and cons here. To start, this show lives and dies on these four characters, and these characters are the reason we watch their individual series, and why now, we’ve watched this crossover. Charlie Cox’s Daredevil, is still clear and away the best of these characters, both in Cox’s portrayal of him and the material he his given to work with. He also is saddled with the best supporting cast, and their acting is always on display when they are on screen with other characters. These characters however do all allow for one of the other biggest pros of the series, and thats being able to see the way all the side and main characters overlap, which plots a real nice web across all of the shows. That overlap does give a feeling of accomplishment also for seeing all the series and knowing all the players.

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There are also some notable inclusions to cast here, with the likes of Sigourney Weaver who comes on to play the role of the main antagonist for the defenders series. She is definitely good here, and her character has and serves a very definite and distinctive arch, but it also feels very much like an extended cameo, than it does a fully fleshed out character that lived in that world. There is also some solid action set pieces here, and when they are done well, they are executed very well, and allow the characters to flex their muscles. It also has to be said, that an 8 episode run is a much better formula (only the Daredevils seasons in my opinion benefit from 13 episodes, all the others to some degree get hurt from the longer 13 episode run). 8 episodes allows for a much more focused storyline, and even though we have all these characters, and so much to connect, if this were 13 episodes I can’t help but think that in trying to add 5 more hours we would lose a lot of the momentum this show has.

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There are however, some negatives here. The first to put it plainly, is the Iron Fist character. Now I’m not talking about the actor here, because while he does add to the portrayal, he is also restricted by the way the character is written, and I think that writing is the real issue here. His character always seems like he’s not in the same world as these other characters, and his character always seems at odds with the others, but in from a character stand point. The main storyline of the series also leans on his character and his methodology heavily, and that means he has a big role here, and when he’s charged with leading the line its just not as good as with the others. There are some other characters also who, while not bad, just aren’t given enough to do to truly be memorable and make a lasting impression on this defenders universe. While like I said earlier there are some great action set pieces here, there are also some sloppy ones. Sloppy not just in their choreography and acting, but also in there setting, use of the characters, and a lack of imagination.

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One of the biggest issues however, and seemingly one of the easier problems to fix, is the budget. So I can’t really find a budget for the defenders, I know the individual series come in around the 40 million per season budget, but whatever the budget is for this series, its either not enough, or its going in all the wrong places. There were so many times during episodes, where I would have to wonder to myself if certain plot points and plot devices were done solely out of a lack of funds and a need to make things as cheap as possible. Wether it would be a lack of fire power from certain villains, to a lack of set diversity, there were so many points where I felt like money had to be an issue. Now I don’t know if something like the lack of certain things from Iron Fist are from a budget point of view, or a writing point of view (de-powering his character to make him fit this universe better), but it definitely comes off as more of an issue than really making his character fit better. Even something as simple as the ending, when the door is unlocked, I was expecting and hoping for something to visually illustrate the difference more than just a dragon skeleton. All of those things just wreak of a small budget to me, and thats something that I in this day and age, with whats meant to be event television like this, just think shouldn’t be such an issue. And like I said before, I don’t know if the issue was a lack of funds, of a misuse of them, but either way I think that was one of the biggest issues this show had to overcome.

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All in all, I think while The Defenders is a mixed bag, I definitely think its worth watching for a few reasons. If you’ve already invested in the other series that lead up to this, you kind of have to watch it, even if for closure, but mostly because one of the things it does best, is line up the future storylines of those individual shows when they each return in future seasons. Its also an easier investment being only 8 episodes, and its a good binge if you need one. (And no their not going to re-cast Iron Fist or anything like that so just either don’t watch his show or don’t watch this if you really can’t stand him, but who knows, maybe one day instead of Iron Fist and Luke Cage series we will get a Heroes for Hire series featuring a bionic arm Misty Knight?!)

Trailer of the Week!

This week is a special week. Usually I go through all the trailers for the week and find the one I think does the best at selling a movie and a concept. This week however is also the week of Comic Con, and with that, we got a whole lot of them, so this week I’m giving you guys a top three of the week. Enjoy!

3 – Kingsman : The Golden Circle (Trailer #2)

2 – Blade Runner 2049 (Trailer #2)

1 – Bright (Tailer #1)

What we have here, are three very different trailers, but also very similar. All three of these movies are slated for later in the year and they all have pretty big expectations. Starting with the newest trailer for Kingsman 2, we get a lot more of the story line here, and a considerable amount of action which makes one wonder just how much can they pack into this sequel. Adding a secondary group of heroes, the Statesmen of America, allows the movie to add another level in it casting, and it does so handily with some big names as well as fan favourites. This trailer shows that the movie doesn’t plan on losing any of its signature style, while ratcheting everything about up to an 11.

Then at the number 2 spot, we have another sequel, this one however, considerably longer in the making. The newest trailer for Blade Runner 2049, like the Kingsman trailer, gives us a much better look at the storyline the movie itself will be taking us on. Erie, tense, suspenseful and gripping, this trailer seeks to give us a tease of what the entire movie is likely to be like in terms of tone and scope, while also teasing out some of the newer characters and their motivations.

Finally we come to bright, the only movie here that doesn’t have a huge planned theatrical release as its another in the ever growing stable of Netflix made and made for movies. Featuring the likes of Will Smith and Joel Edgerton (under some heavy makeup), bright is the latest from the mind of Max Landis and directed by Fury’s David Ayer, the movie gives us a look at a super realistic take on the idea of a world filled with goblins and ghouls, fairies and elves, and all manner of magical creatures. This first feature trailer also like the trailers before it, gives us a very good idea of where this movie plans to go, and it will be something to see if all the parts that make up this movie can come together and give us a great movie in the end.

There are some other great trailers that dropped this week, but I only went with three here, as these three left a large impression on me, but I will give a shoutout to the new trailer for The Shape of Water, and Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Both excellent and intriguing trailers that I’m sure we will see come back on here soon enough.

 

Review : Okja

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“Meet Mija, a young girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful, multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a fascinating animal named Okja.”

If you needed any more evidence that Netflix wants to take over the world, just look at what they are trying to do with not just series, but feature films. One of their latest production is that of Okja. This movie is also an interesting one in that its a two country production here. Written and directed by Joon-ho Bong, with a both international and Korean cast, and also set in both south Korea and america, Okja is a truly global film. This movie is many things, but its definitely two things. Firstly, its a movie about a girl and her family, and what she is willing to risk to save that. Secondly, its a movie with a message and an agenda (but not so severe that it can’t poke fun at itself), that it weaves throughout the plot line. The movie also jumps back and forth between english and Korean, further highlighting the duality at play here. This movie is also told on two levels. The top level is the plot, which is very solid and keeps itself nice and lean. The second level are the characters, and this movie is FULL of characters. These characters are also juxtaposed against each other in their performance and their grounding. Those who are on the right side of the story are definitely played more down to earth and much less of a caricature than those on the wrong side of it, and while that can come off like they are trying to tell a one sided story, but their absurdity is contrasted by the rest of the cast. That is the one place where the movie can fall apart for some viewers, as some of the characters are genuinely over the top, and it can be too much at times. All in all, Okja is a movie with heart, and with a message. Its equal parts heart felt and PSA, and definitely worth a watch…and its on Netflix, for like..free (ish).

Review Score : 8.5 out of 10

Trailer of the Week!

This weeks trailer of the week is:

Okja (official trailer)

This week brings our first real surprise winning trailer, and it isnt just the kind of movie we’re talking about here, but also who made this movie. We have our first Netflix entry here with the first main trailer for Okja. Okja is the nest entry from writer, director Bong Joon Ho of Snowpiercer fame, and he manages to stack another impressive cast here. The movie stars Tilda Swindon, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, Jake Gyllenhaal, and a many more. The movie centers around the idea of a near future cooperation, that through scientific advnaces, creates an entirely new breed of animal, called a super pig in the trailer as a new means to feed the world. Problems soon arise when a young girl who becomes best friends with one of the animals has it taken from here.

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The movie deals with many different concepts from factory farming to our thoughts on even eating meat. But more than that, the movie uses its narrative to tell what should be a heart warming story that has these higher more complex ideas weave around and through it to keep it grounded. So what do you think about Okja? Does the concept intrigue you, and what do you think about the visuals? That will no doubt be one of the biggest points on which this movie will likely live or die, but it is our trailer of the week, give it a look and tell me what you think.

Iron Fist and the Netflix Defenders Universe

So with the recent release of Iron Fist, we have now officially had all the proposed entries that lead up to the much anticipated Defenders cross over series. I though it then only right that now was perfect time to put my two cents into the ring. In an overall sense I must say I’m more pleased than anything about the 4 series we have received, but I think there are clear highs, clear lows, and some restructuring that should be done to make most all of these shows better in their future iterations. I’ll start with Iron Fist as its freshest in our memories. If i had to review the series the way i review movies i probably score it somewhere around 6 or 7 (because I try very much to rate things not just on there worth but on their potential) and I think that would be a fair score. I have a few beefs with the season and I’ll go over them all. First off with the exception of Daredevil, I think all three other series have shown that without the same depth of narrative that are available to Daredevil, they don’t have the content to support 13 hour long episodes and they would all have been better in a series order of 8-10 episodes. I applaud the effort in what Iron Fist tried to do with its combat, but I think it suffered from not having the time to truly get some of these actors to level they needed to be to be 100% effective and compelling in their fighting style and ability (we can even see the difference in Danny’s body over the course of the series, showing he didn’t start where at the level he should have). In another show that might be less of a problem, but when the show is Iron Fist, the fighting is really important. I think Iron Fist also suffered from the lack of a truly major villain over the course of its story as it constantly swaps them in and out and that causes a constant loss of momentum. My biggest beef though, is the lack of a scene like this:

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and to make matters worse, we were constantly teased a full Danny lose control rage out scene, that just never happened. Its not all gloom and doom however, I do think Iron Fist has one of the most organic romances to date in these series. I truly felt that there was a connection between Danny and Colleen, even when he was preoccupied with revenge. The series also had the task of introducing a lot of the mystic elements into this world, and it more or less does its job.

Like I mentioned earlier, I do think Luke Cage and Jessica Jones would have benefitted from a shorter run of episodes. Luke Cage I think was the most egregious of these two as I think the series took a drastic turn for the worst after the removal of one of the main characters, and replacing him with what was more caricature than character. Jessica Jones I think is the second best of the series thus far, because even though I think it could have been shorter, I don’t think it ever strayed too far from what it was or tried to be. Also, its decision to take on the issues it did I think was a welcome change to what we might have expected from a series like that. And then there’s Daredevil, the gift that keeps on giving. After giving us season one, it came back with an arguably as strong second season, but with the addition of great characters in The Punisher and Elektra, one of which was so strong he got his own series to come.

Now that the all the pieces have been set, I’m very interested in what the Defenders will bring. Say what you want, we have a pretty interesting and eclectic group of heroes here, all anchored by fan favorite Rosario Dawson and her night nurse character. It will only have an 8 episode run which I think should keep a lot of the problems of these other series from being too much of a problem, so I have nothing but high hopes for it. Have you all seen Iron Fist as yet? Are you excited for the Defenders cross over, or could you take it or leave it?

Cheers

 

Review : Beasts of No Nation

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“A drama based on the experiences of Agu, a child soldier fighting in the civil war of an unnamed African country.”

Netflix comes out of the gates swinging, with it’s first feature film, in Beasts of No Nation. The film is helmed by Cary Fukunaga of True Detective fame, and he really brings a distinct look and feel this movie. He is a believer in very deliberate film making, and the use of long slow pans, tilts and zoom, that force you to stay longer on something that you maybe don’t want to have to. Idris Elba plays a charismatic and brutal leader, and he plays the role perfectly. It’s nice in this movie, that we really get a sense for how and why child soldiers can be created, and not simply have that reasoning swept under the carpet. To be honest this movie is very brutal. It is brutal in tone, language, violence, and a few other things, but i think to have shied away from it would have been a mistake. Fukunaga also adds a great deal to that brutality, with the beauty and elegance of his cinematography, creating almost a juxtaposition of ideals on screen. Special mention also has to be made of Abraham Attah, who plays the main character of Agu in the movie. He was simply stunning, and deserves all the nominations in the world for this performance. The movie does have it slower periods, where it can get a bit bogged down, but otherwise the pacing is slow but very deliberate. All in all, Beasts of No Nation is a great start for Netflix and a great movie overall. Careful consideration however should be made by those who can’t handle this kind of material.

Review Score : 9 out of 10

Netflix vs The World

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So very recently Netflix bid for and won the distribution rights for the movie “Beasts of No Nation”, which is a war drama staring Idris Elba, and has some solid directing talent. What’s so interesting about that you might ask? Well after this deal was done, Netflix said it would be releasing the movie on day and date on both Netflix and select cinemas. Shortly afterwards, the 4 biggest cinema chains in America allll said they won’t be showing it, leaving only smaller and independent cinemas to have these showings. So what does this all mean, and how did it all start…

In the beginning ( of the Netflix age that is ), studios thought it was a great idea to have this new outlet to show all these old shows they had. Then over time, they started changing their minds, and taking longer and longer to send their content over to Netflix. THEN they started actively denying content, but the one thing they didn’t expect to happen, did. Netflix said F#$% IT, and they began to create their own content, and the great Netflix war began. You see now, Netlix has become a true juggernaut, one that can’t be ignored and one with a lot of money. So now, the strong hold that Cable has lost on great series, is becoming a possible future for the strong hold Hollywood has on Feature Films. If Netflix can have a successful release of a feature film, that would be a massive blow to cinemas as the viewing audience might go, hhmmmm stay home and see the same movie, think imma do that! So their own plan to starve Netlfix originally has totally come back full circle to bite them in the asshole. So what do you think about this situation? Are you team Netflix or Team World? I personally just want Netflix to win just enough to make cinema tickets cheaper :).

Cheers