A Review of the First Two Episodes Of Syfy’s Superman Prequel SeriesRead More
Netflix has certainly developed into a powerhouse company. Bringing on what I feel is the demise of the DVD and Blu-Ray industry and giving large studios runs for their money, Netflix streams all sorts of films and shows, as well as makes their own. I know their work with the comedy world as there is a plethora of comedy specials out on by Netflix. They’ve done work with Marvel to bring a few of the lesser characters to life (The Defenders came out the day before the time of this writing and I haven’t seen it yet).
I keep on on movie news occasionally but Ozark came out of nowhere. The show stars Jason Bateman as a financial planner that also launders money for a Mexican drug cartel. The show focuses on his life on the shady side of things and life with his family. The first episode sets up the premise of the show in that the main family has to leave Chicago and ends up in the Ozark region with a large amount of money to launder within a specific amount of time. Not meeting said deadline would result in certain death.
I got a very “Walter White” feel feel the main character. He seems like he could be a good guy but has taken some turns in life that have resulted in him being not the best with morality and such. I really like the “flawed” characters that have to struggle with their lives based on the decisions made to get them there. The entire family in this show kind of has the same struggle, whether it be the wife (played by Laura Linney), the obnoxious daughter, or the son with his violent curiosity.
The main character’s storyline of being the launderer is what kept me drawn to the show for the entire ten episodes. The daughter’s consistent flip-flopping between understanding and rebellion got tiring rather quickly. I fought the urge to fast-forward through scenes involving her repeatedly. The son gravitated towards the darker side of things in the show I guess as a defensive mechanism. He wanted to protect the family and was willing to go about it with violence and gun usage. A large part of the show was dedicated to the anxiety between the main character and his wife as it’s quickly revealed that she has cheated on him. This infidelity ends up involving the cartel in a way that make me chuckle repeatedly. It was fun how the infidelity was dealt with by the cartel.
I liked this show. Obviously there were some low points and some annoying aspects of it but the highlights clearly made the show worth it. I look forward to the evolving story of this money launderer and his family, wherever it will go. If there are any Breaking Bad fans out there, this seems like it could be right up their alley and I'd recommend it to them specifically. If you like good people doing bad things and eventually going down a bad path, I guess I recommend Breaking Bad and Ozark!
Starring: Charlie Cox, Krysten Ritter, Mike Colter, Finn Jones, Elodie Young, Jessica Henwick, Scott Glenn, Sigourney Weaver, Rosario DawsonPlot: We join four individual super heroes as they struggle with something bigger and then realize they may, not only, be in it alone, but may not be able to do it alone.Runtime: Eight 50 minute episodes... ishReview: As with every review, there will be spoilers coming for this guys, so be warned.I liked this show a lot. I came into it with decently high hopes because I think all the Marvel Netflix series have been (mostly) a success. I'm one of the VERY few people that didn't even mind Iron Fist when it came out, perhaps because I watched it later than everyone else and heard that it was basically the worst thing in the existence of mankind (until that point, POTUS). So I watched it, and certainly it had a lot of problems, but I enjoyed it. I do my best to avoid getting caught into the racial sides of things and how America white washes things, but this one specifically made me confused. There is a character in Iron Fist who wanted to play the title role, but didn't get it, they gave him something else. Everyone was upset that he didn't get, so I checked the guy out, turns out he's Asian. I don't care about that, if they wanted to cast him they would have, but people can't be upset that they actually cast someone that looked the part, can they? Yes, they can. Whatever, it happens. I have also had problems with all of the Netflix series' (Daredevil 2 the least by far), but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the fact that heroes from my childhood are coming to life. Too many people are critical of too many things, I get that this is their job or their reason to live or whatever, but these are comic book book tv shows that aren't Witch Blade or the 1960's crappy Batman (Sorry Mr. West).So when I came into this series I said "I'm gonna have fun, and watch some people kick ass". I feel I did that quite well. From the moment that Matt Murdock puts on his Daredevil suit I had a permanent grin on my face. He was phenomenal. From the moment Luke Cage pulled that Yellow shirt over his huge torso I had a permanent grin on my face. From the moment people talk about Iron Fist being a pretty, rich, white boy who wants to save the world I had a permanent grin on my face. From the moment Jessica Jones... I'm not the biggest fan of her character, but I smiled a shit tonne when she was on screen. Needless to say, there was a lot of smiling going on during this series. I was even really happy with the choice of Sigourney Weaver as the villain, she did really well. She always does, so I expected nothing less, but still.The show starts off slowly, with the four not knowing each other at all, but all of them having heard of "The Devil of Hell's Kitchen", who no longer practices. Wait... he's a lawyer, so he practices law, but not longer practices the art of kicking peoples asses... outside of court. Without his hands... whatever! Jessica Jones is cementing herself as quite the useless drunk, Luke Cage gets out of jail and Danny Rand is making his way back from Vietnam after searching for the hand ( I think Vietnam).Doesn't take them long to find one another and immediately start to fight one another, which is also fantastic. But it also doesn't take long for them to sort of fight each other less and start to fight the bad guys a whole bunch more. 2 of the 8 episodes have a little bit of fighting and 6 of the episodes are pretty well a lot of fighting. Some say that's not a good thing or there needs to be more plot, but this was a very straightforward plot to me. Stop the Hand from destroying New York. They say it in the preview, why waste time trying to jam more in.For the fighting, a lot of people were also upset with Finn Jones' lack of ability to look good fighting. I can't really disagree with that at all, seeing as he's playing a world renowned martial artist I would think he'd look better fighting, but that wasn't as much of an issue for me as one would think. My biggest issue with the show is simple. HOW DOES CHARLIE COX LOOK SO DAMN CONVINCING AT BEING BLIND?! I've seen him normally and he's not blind, he does it so damn well that it amazes me... and makes me wonder if all blind people are faking it. That second part isn't true at all, but still.There's no Frank Castle in this, not even a ghost of a whisper of him, but there's a teaser after, so that's cool. They touch on "the incident", which is Avengers one and there are a whole thwack of good scenes in the series. One could say I spent the entire review... DEFENDING it, but they'd be wrong, it doesn't need to be defended at all, it's just genuinely fun and well done.I have mostly changed my mind, I won't spoil this that much, it's a cursory review of a show I really liked. I don't watch a lot of tv, so this means something to me.Do I think you should watch it? If you like Marvel, yes. If you hate fun, no. If you think Charlie Cox is handsome, yes. 99% yes, 1% no. And that 1% that hates fun? Lock it up guys.
I'm a binge-watcher when the situation and time allow for it. I suppose this is why Netflix releasing seasonal content in one fell swoop is such a wonderful treat for people like me. The seventeenth of March brought the first season of Marvel's Iron Fist to Netflix in its entirety and with that falling on a Friday (as it appears that all seasonal programming on Netflix does), I knew what my weekend would amount to. I think I got the entire season under my belt within a couple days while still trying to log some hours in the Bolivian terrain of Ghost Recon: Wildlands. As an aside, that's a great third-person shooter style video game for anyone into that sort of thing. Back on track however, let's talk about the hits and misses of Marvel's fourth Netflix show and the last before a culmination of The Defenders (which I believe lands this autumn).
I guess I can lead with my best foot and suggest that I liked the show. It's probably my third favourite of the four Marvel shows on Netflix as I really had issues with Jessica Jones. In all fairness to the show though, I'll be watching it along with Luke Cage and two seasons of Daredevil as a lead-up to The Defenders. Iron Fist is another of Marvel's takes on mysticism and the "spiritual" side of their universe. The Marvel Cinematic Universe made its first foray into it with Doctor Strange earlier this year. The backstory of both characters is similar with a devastating accident leading to "spiritual" enlightenment through eastern teaching and philosophy.
Iron Fist sees a young Danny Rand survive a plane crash and be raised by monks in a mystical realm called K'un-L'un. The show actually starts with Danny coming back to society some fifteen years later, hoping to lay claim to the business of his father and bearing their surname. Throughout the show's thirteen episodes, Rand Industries seems to be a focal point. I guess folks need some sort of backstory since a quick Google search is out of the question. As such, there's a lot of setting up going on. Between the business arc, the K'un-L'un arc, and an arc with The Hand (a villainous group having its hand (pun intended) in Daredevil), the first season is filled with origin. I mean, I guess that's cool but I do have some serious problems with it.
Did anyone else find the writing particularly lazy? Did it feel like Marvel called it in? I was engaged the entire season not because of the actual show but the universe Marvel has created has interested me as long as I can remember. The show had a few highlights, but along with very poor writing and story arcs, I decided tonight that Danny Rand (as portrayed by some Game Of Thrones guy named Finn Jones) was unlikeable. His performance was stale and wooden, and I felt that for an Iron Fist, he sure got his ass handed to him a lot. As one of the world's greatest martial artists, it felt like there wasn't even a bit of this throughout the thirteen episodes. I don't understand why Marvel didn't cast a martial artist so that the amazement and wonder of the Iron Fist could really be shown. That would have made up for the shoddy writing and arcs, obviously. Hell, I watched three Ip Man movies in a row, so that's indicative of how unimportant writing is if the stunts are impressive. Despite almost everything about those movies being awful, the fight scenes more than make up for it.
So, we get thirteen episodes of lacklustre writing, mediocre performances, and generally lazy programming. The over-the-top cartoonish villain that comes back from the dead with added rage each time doing so was too much. The business-related squabbling got old quickly. The fight scenes were quick and negatively understated. All of that being said, I think I still enjoyed it more than Jessica Jones. I guess I'm a sucker for Marvel stuff. I've seen all the Marvel Cinematic Universe releases and I still watch Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. despite it being absolutely abhorrent. I'm a sucker and clearly Marvel and Netflix have done their job as I'm counting down the days until The Defenders get released. Maybe Iron Fist will be better in that and any subsequent seasons that might get made. On one hand, I'm so excited to see these characters finally make it to the screen, but a part of me that seems to be getting a bit louder with most every release Marvel puts out is screaming for them to not call it in. Come on, Marvel. You have a rich tapestry of stories and characters to draw from. Let's not get lazy and complacent because idiots like me are going to check out what you're putting out next regardless of the issues. Here's hoping we get back to Winter Soldier quality sooner than later. Ending on a few positive notes, the special effects involving the glowing Iron Fist were great. I was really excited to see how great that looked. Maybe The Defenders will up the ante and make all the characters likeable and deliver a great plot. I think the eight episode they're going with will make The Defenders a better show on pacing alone. Obviously looking forward to it!
The Caped Crusader is no stranger to animation. From Batman and Robin's appearances in the SuperFriends to the classic Batman: The Animated Series, cartoons have helped mold the modern idea of how Batman and his villains should look and act. I'm sure I'm not the only one who hears Mark Hamill's voice in my head whenever I read something involving the Joker. In fact, the only reason I became a Batman fan at all is because I watched the Animated Series when I was a kid.There truly is no better way to become acquainted with Batman, his world and his assortment of colourful villains. The series features origin stories for all of the classic Batman villains, a revamped origin for Mr. Freeze that won an Emmy, gorgeous visuals and production value that is beyond compare for a children's cartoon. The same can be said of the writing, which is kid-friendly without being simplistic. To put it simply, if you have not seen Batman: The Animated Series you are not only missing out on one of the great kid's shows of all time, but one of the great TV shows of all time.Frankly, the fact that Batman: The Animated Series (I'll call it B:TAS from this point forward) is so comprehensive and iconic has left any Batman cartoons that have followed with a rather high bar to clear. 2004 saw the first attempt at a follow up to B:TAS, simply titled "The Batman". The show attempted to distance itself from its predecessor by focusing more on fight scenes and action as well as highlighting characters that didn't get as much focus in B:TAS.The best example of this is Penguin (voiced by Tom Kenny of Spongebob fame) who in this version is a portly kung fu master. By taking a villain who was fairly forgettable in the previous series and bumping them up to A-List status, The Batman helped differentiate itself from its legendary predecessor. The Batman also did a great job doing the same thing with Clayface, who in this version is a childhood friend of Bruce and a victim of the Joker, and Killer Croc, who is portrayed as an intelligent mobster from New Orleans, but unfortunately the show did essentially end up becoming a watered down version of B:TAS. Giving Joker dreadlocks simply wasn't enough, and soon the show stopped focusing on using lesser known villains and began using the same A-listers over and over again. I personally find The Batman to be a forgettable, though fairly well made, Batman cartoon. The Batman ran for 5 seasons, and received a TV movie, but is not very well regarded in fan circles.The next Batman cartoon differentiated itself in a number of ways. 2008's Batman: The Brave and the Bold attempted to accomplish to bold task of appealing to both young children and hardcore DC fans. Taking the name of the classic DC comic series, which would team-up two random heroes, Brave and the Bold serves as a guide to the DC universe. Each episode features Batman teaming up with a different heroes and fighting lots of different villains. While we do of course get a decent amount of Joker, this show mainly removed Batman from Gotham and mainly used villains that are not usually associated with Batman.If you have never seen Brave and the Bold, I would highly recommend it. It's a love letter to all the weirdness in comic books. If you are new to comics, it's a great way to get introduced to lots of great characters that often don't get focus; if you're an expert, the show is chock full of references that will make your geeky heart grow three sizes that day. The show ran for three season and is fairly well regarded by fans (aka 4chan).The fact that Brave and the Bold steered away from Batman characters in general, and the fact that The Batman failed to gain a following in the way that B:TAS did, showed the dilemma that Batman would have moving forward: how can an action Batman cartoon be made without being overshadowed be B:TAS? In the next part of this three part series, I'll argue that the little watched Beware The Batman mananged to do exactly that. How? By delivering on the promise of freshness first made by The Batman in 2004.Next time: Building a Better "The Batman"