Daredevil Season 2 Episodes 1-4 Review

By William Shelton

Marvel Daredevil was pretty much everything I wanted it too be when I heard the the Netflix branch of the MCU was aiming to be a darker and more mature. The fight scenes were brutal and more striped back than the more family oriented film, Matt Murdock’s internal conflicts were much deeper than anything the A-listers had to deal with and the show had my favorite villain the MCU has produced by far. Unfortunately for out man without fear, the next marvel based Netflix show was Jessica Jones, which blew it out of the water in almost every way. So now the question is: will Daredevil’s second season be able to recapture the magic the first season had before it was outdone?
Short answer: no, but like season one it’s still pretty great.
The season opens strong, with Daredevil taking down a group of baddies without ever showing us Daredevil himself. This leads to what would have been a nice reveal of his costume if we hadn’t already seen it at the end of season 1, but it’s still a well paces opener. We are soon introduced to The Punisher in a similar fashion as he guns down a group of Irish moddsters with near surgical precision without ever being shown. He’s so proficient at killing that at first Matt Murdock and company believe they are up ageist an entire squad of trained killers. As good a killer as he is, even the punisher misses sometimes and one of the Irish managed to make it out alive.
By either coincidence or plot convenience Grotto (the Irishman from punisher assault) makes his way to Nelson and Murdock seeking to trade information for witness protection. While meeting with our “avocados at law” Grotto passes out from a gunshot he took and is taken to the hospital. Karen even stays behind and tries to pass herself off as his wife inorder to hind him from the punisher, who they’ve been assured will come looking.
This doesn’t work. The Punisher shows and….pisses me off.
Okay, taking a small break from the plot synopsis and getting to the political side of this. I’ve always liked the Punisher, but he’s a character that you really have to now how to write. Especially in the age of mass shootings. Who ever wrote this episode is not one of those writers. While I’m okay with the punisher shooting a bad guy in the hospital (that makes scenes with his character), when he does it here he goes I with a shotgun. The Punisher starts shooting in a crowded hospital, full of innocent people with a gun made to spread out it’s shoot range to hit targets in a wider area. This is not how the Punisher should be handled. Latter on he even cocks a gun at an unarmed elderly man. While some lip servant is paid to this all being an act and that he made sure innocent people wouldn’t have gotten hurt nothing he does here backs that claim up. While the dialogue is well written through out the season thus far and Jon Bernthal kills it in the role, this isn’t how the character should be handled….if he’s meant to be a hero. And that’s where this becomes an interesting talking point. Bernthal said he wants his role to get people talking about gun violence in America, and I can see that happen. Personally while I’m all for that pushing that conversation, I wish that did have to come at the expense of the character. For example, in the hospital scene, why give the punisher a shotgun? Why not a pistol or rifle or something more accurate? That at least would have at lest given some credence to the idea that he at lest made some effort not to kill those who didn’t deserve it, while still starting that political conversation.
Getting back on track, the first four episodes are dedicated to the fight between the Daredevil and the Punisher’s fight (which is why I’m not doing my normal 6 episode review) and it makes a pretty good mini arch. However, what made both Daredevil and Jessica Jones so great is that they were both one extended story, so having this not be the case here almost makes this season feel like a lesser entity than either of those. Not helping matters is the fact that Vincent D’Onofrio isn’t returning as Wilson Fisk, who was with out a doubt the best thing season one had going.
With all that said it’s easy to think I’m not fond of this season, but that’s not the case. It has it’s issues to be sure, but i’ve still had a blast watching it. Charlie Cox and Jon Bernthal both sell the hell out of their roles as two men on similar yet vastly different paths in life, and each scene they share is something too look forwards too, whether they’re fighting to talking. However, it’s Elden Henson as Foggy that really makes the show for me. Not only is the character funny as hell, but Foggy’s take no shit approach to lawyering and dedication to protecting the his clients makes you wish more law professionals were like him. While he may not be “the badass” of the show, he’s the guy I personally want to be like: honest, smart as hell and loyal to a fault.
The fight scenes are also better this time around, with one tracking shot fight down a stairwell being the highlight of this arch for me personally. However, I wish they’d try a little harder not to go back to under lit hallways. Last season’s “Oldboy” inspired fight was a season highlight, I’m glad we all agree, but the constant call backs to it feel unnecessary. I mean, I know there’s only so much you can do with a locations as confined as this, but fights this good shouldn’t be healed back by repetitive environments.
As of right now I’m not sure any of this will matter in the long run. Will any of this play a part in the seasons over all plot? That remains to be scene, but so far it’s been a hell of a ride none the less. I’m still of the opinion that Jessica Jones is the better show, but this is miles above what they did with season one, and I can’t wait too see what comes next.


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2 Trailer and Impressions

I ignored Kimmy Schmidt when it first came to netflix, and in fact just got through season one a couple of days ago. and with the exception of one uncomfortably racist subplot i really enjoyed the show. So i was looking forward to see Kimmy’s journey to continue and was excited when i heard the season two trailer had dropped. Unfortunately this trailer reminded me of why i chose to ignore the show in the first place. While it does introduce some interesting plot lines for the season to follow, this was not a good trailer. I’m hoping this is just a bad cut and not indicative of the season as a whole, but there is very little here to get me exited.

Jessica Jones Trailer and Impressions

Even thought i believe in adding more diversity in media i am one of the few Marvel fans who really just did not care to see a Black Widow movie. I love the character and i love Scarlett Johansson in the role, but i’ve been wanting their first female lead superhero movie to be a more interesting an unique character. And this is exactly why. While it does kind of suck that this has been relegated to the small screen, its kind of hard to care when the show looks this damn good.

While i’ve always held that the general posativity of Marvels movies has been one of their biggest strengths, i really did enjoy the darker tone of Daredevil, if for no other reason than it was a change of pace. But more importantly, then went dark the right way, by not backing down from the subject matter but still having a clear division between hero and villain. Jessica Jones really seems to be running with that idea and i’m loving the look of it so far. Tennant‘s “Kilgrave” is looking to be an awesome villain (even if his name is really stupid. not as bad as “Blackheart” though) and Krysten Ritter’s take on Jessica really works for me.

This is, by far, what i’m most excited for TV/Movie wise for the rest of this year.

Retraction: Netflix Unfortunate Events Trailer Fake

It has come to my attention that this trailer, expertly made as it is, was a fake. While the bulk of my feelings on the show remain the same (ie, if they keep too much to the books it may throw ff the pacing, killing the show) it’s unprofessional of me to make judgments or offer observations on a product from a source that does not accurately represent the product. While i know i’m not the only one that made this mistake, i still offer my apologies for not looking for not looking for a better/ second source before uploading my post.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix Series Trailer and Impressions

I can not begin to explain just how much i love Lemony Snicket’s 13 book saga. I read all the books at lest three times (yes, all 13) and even forced my sibling to get into them. So it probably wont surprise you that i was…underwhelmed…by the 2004 Jim Carry movie. Because of this i’ve been eager to see how Netflix would handle the franchise for a while, as i;ve seen this go wrong before, and a television series comes with it’s own complications.

The thing that has me the most worried is the pacing. i know alot of people say that books should be turned into TV shows instead of movies because then you can ad more of the book, but that also means dealing with all the superfluous crap that drags down the pacing of the book. With books this isn’t so bad as you control the pace more (you can read faster, slower whatever you need), but you can’t do that with a TV show. In fact, it was the poor pacing that killed Sence8 for me. So if the creative team can deal with that one major issue, we should be good.

Probable pace issues aside, i like what i saw in this trailer. I mean, the tone is just spot on, from the look of the leeches, to the color pallet to the great choice of music, missed me by the dresden dolls (by the way, if any of the film makers are reading this, i’d be 100% ok if Amanda Palmer did the soundtrack for the show).

All in all, i have high hopes for this. What about you? Are you looking forward to another adaptation of the books, or should people get away from the TV and read all 13 books? Leave a comment below and let me know.

Sense8 Episode 1-6 Review

The Wachowski siblings do not have the greatest track record when it comes to their filmography. The Matrix is a classic, but it’s two sequels are less that stellar, Speed Racer was just awful, and while Cloud Atlas was a return to form, it was made contravention by those who lacked context for the film or chose to ignore the context (thus missing the point of the film). Their latest film, Jupiter Ascending was probably their most disappointing, with it’s clear call backs to the themes that made the Matrix so great, but in the end was weighed down world building and jargon while most of the big idea stuff seems to have been left on the cutting room floor.
With all that said, the Wachowski’s are still one of the most interesting creators working today. Either good or bad it’s always clear that their movies come from a strong creative vision, and you’ll never mistake one of their films for someone else. Because of this I always look forward to their next project, even though I cant say I go into it with the highest of expectations. So when I heard they had a new show coming out, I was always intending on giving it a look. When I heard it was a netflix show, I couldn’t help but get a little excited. With “Daredevil”, “House of Cards” and “Orange is the new black”, netflix has sold me on their original programming. So what do we get when we mix the potential of the Wachowski siblings and the stellar track record of netflix, do we get an exciting and thoughtful product like “The Matrix” or do we get a beautiful but brain dead series like “Speed Racer”? Lets find out.
The idea of the show is pretty weird: it’s about these 8 people, all in different parts of the world with little to nothing in common, who are psychically linked. They can draw information and skills from each other, like the ability to fight or speak another language and they can even feel what the others are feeling. On top of this, they can also visit each other, giving each other advise or encouragement when needed. But for the most part no one knows what’s going on, and this new ability is causing some metal distress for everyone involved.
Unfortunately, as far as plot goes that strange set up is all there is to talk about. In the six episodes I watched (half the season) no real unifying conflict has been developed. So far the show very much just is us watching these very different people, with very different lives and problems over come their issues by using each others abilities. That may be the point, but so far it feels like the show is just on a slow burn. I described it earlier to some one I know as “trying to heat a bathtub with a 4th of July sparkler; beautiful to look at, but not getting the job done as fast as it could”. From what i’ve seen so far though I wouldn’t say the main draw wasn’t meant to be the plot, but the cast.
The Wachowski’s seem to be tying to single handedly fix the issue of representation in media. Half the cast are LGBT members, half the cast are people of color and only two of the characters are American. It really feels like they used this to just kind of shout into the void: adding diversity really shouldn’t be that hard guys, we literally went to an extreme with it and look how little that impacted our show”
Unfortunately, with 8 main cast members of the show, plus all their side characters, no one really feels developed as well as they could be. Because of this the Wachowski’s some archetypes that could be seen as stereotypes people who don’t know the difference or those who are just sick of seeing these common themes always brought up when talking about what ever racial group we’re talking about. For example, one of the main leads is a Kenyan bus driver who’s mother has AIDS. Now, depending on if you see this as an archetype or a stereotype will color how you view this character, his inclusion and what the Wachowski’s are trying to say.
Now, for those of you who don’t know the difference: an archetype is a character mold that characters fill so we get an understanding of who they are and how they operate so we can skip to the more interesting part of the story. A stereotype are applied characteristics used to belittle a group of people. So with this character you can view him and his ADIS ridden mother as an archetype to make us understand why he does some of the more dangerous stuff he does, or a stereotype meant to imply that they’re African so of course they have aids. While I personally see this as using archetypes to fill in gaps that would take too long to fill in otherwise (witch would have killed the shows pacing, witch isn’t great to begin with) I can’t say I don;t see the arguments that can be made of the other side, or even that they would be wrong. However, even if you allow for this concession it’s hard to ignore that an easier option exist: cut the cast in half. Clearly this is being used to save time, so cut the cast in half, thus cutting in half the amount of people we have to get to know, understand their troubles and presumably care about. Get rid of the boring cop, merge to addict chick to another character and so on.
Another issue I have that was brought up in another article about the show is that it feels too American when most of the cast are non-American. That Kenyan bus driver I was talking about? Yeah, he’s favorite movie star is Van Dam, and irrelevant action hero here, so why would he think painting Van Dam on the side of his buss (and even going on to adopt the name himself) would be a good idea? And while I get that a more global entertainment market means where not gridlocked into cultural specific reference points ( I literally just did an editorial about this topic) it does feel unfairly one sided. However, I do think it’s important to not that the author of the article I got this idea from also complained when the Indian couple used a bollywood style song to express love to each other, making their argument feel more like “i want this to feel foreign in ways I like” rather than, “i see a fundamental issue with the creators being too American centric for a show that sells itself on having a global cast of characters”.
However, a TV show or movie based on it’s characters is only as good as the actors playing them. So how does the cast do? Pretty freak well, actually. My personal favorites are Jamie Clayton who plays Nomi, a trains woman who, with here girlfrind try to escape here transphobic mother and a brain operation that could leaver her lobotomized (author note: I’m complementing the job she did. For those who don’t like the idea of a cis woman playing a trans role, I understand your issue but still have to say she’s doing a great job). Every time she and Freema Agyeman (the actress who plays her girlfriend) are on screen together I feel the show is really hitting it’s mark.
Another great is Miguel Ángel Silvestre who plays Lito, a gay Mexican actor living with his boyfriend fake girlfriend who is using him to escape a badly ended relationship the same way he’s using her to hide his true self from the media. These three always bring a smile to my face.
The one “weak link” is Doona Bae as Sun. A few times through out the show I found myself asking if she was giving a poor line delivery or if it was just her accent that I wasn’t use too. But as I just got done seeing her in Cloud Atlas and never had this issue, I feel safe in saying it was the delivery. She doesn’t drag down the movie by any means, but this was noticeable on a few occasions and only ever with her.
This reminds me of something else I found odd about the show: every one speaks English. I know they are meant to be speaking their native language and the show is just kind of…translating for us….but I think it would have be a better chose to have the character speak their native language when talking normally. I know why this choice was made, but it make me wonder what could have been.
In the end I have to say I’m liking this one a lot. I do wish the plot would pick up its pace, but other than that there isn’t a lot I have an issue with. It seems like the Wachowski siblings wanted to tackle the same topics and ideas that they did in “Cloud Atlas”, but in a way that was less con traversal so maybe people would pay attention to it this time. I’ll check back in when I finish the series and we’ll see if they stick the landing.

Daredevil Review Part Two

Going the “Dark and Gritty” rout for superheros is one that I feel rarely pays off. Too often these stories are just juvenile, steeped in a mentally 13-year-olds nihilistic/pessimistic attitude that is always out of place when coupled with stories of people trying to save the world. Because if this, I was a little worried going into “Daredevil”, knowing that is was Marvel Studio’s first attempt at “dark”, and that it would have a “TV-MA” rating. So, if you are like me and are hesitant to try the show, let me just say this now: Daredevil is freaking terrific. This is how you do dark.
The question is, what makes Daredevil different? What does Daredevil do that other, lesser competitors in the “dark and gritty” arena fail at? Easy. Daredevil is a hero. For juxtapositions sake, lets compare this show too the biggest creative failure in the “dark and gritty” realm, “Man of Steel”. The first thing we see in “Daredevil” is a young Matt Murdock saving some old man from getting hit by a truck, losings his eyesight in the process. In “Man of Steel” we watch as Clark Kent saves a group of kids trapped in a sinking buss, only for him to be scolded by his father. While this does set up an interesting dilemma for Clark, the fact is, when it comes time for him to suit up and be a hero we are given no real context as to why he would choose to do so. The first thing we learn about Matt is his thought process of “people matter an I want too help them”, where as Clarks is more “people matter and I want to help them but, gee, maybe I shouldn’t” and we never get a clear sense of when that changes. It also helps establish that Daredevil is a hero as we are constantly watching him help and save people. The highlight of the entire show comes in the 2nd or 3rd episode when a bloody an beaten Daredevil enters a five minuet fight scene against Russian mobsters in order to save a young boy. Throughout the episode we are constantly shown how bad Daredevil is, how he can hardly stand and so on, yet in the end, he’s the hero and he has a job to do. Now compare that to the fight against Superman and Zod, when the two are seem to be in competition to see how many buildings they can each destroy.
Another thing that helps is how the show gets dark. While there is a part were Matt has to question whether or not he wants to kill the Kingpin, that’s not the main focus of the “darkness”. While the easy way to darken up a superhero is to make their actions more questionable, make you winder if the character is in fact a “hero” or just a vigilante. Daredevil goes a different (and in my opinion, better) rout. The darkness comes from not shying away from the brutality of the villains. In an early episode we watch a man brutally take his own life out of fear after giving up the name of the Kingpin, and a little latter we understand where that fear came from. In the end, I think this is why I like the show so much. We are given a hero that stays a hero, and we are also given a villain that demands the attention of that hero.
I talked about performances in my mini-review (witch, ironically, may end up being longer than this one), and for the most part not much changed. However, I do think that the actor playing Foggy didn’t handle the character’s change from “happy-go-lucky” friend to “bitter-and-angry-asshole” near the middle of the season, but the change is short lived, so I can’t complain too much. Other than that, the only time when the show falls flat for me is episode 7, “Stick”. While a lot of the show takes inspiration from Mark Millars run on the comics, this is the one episode that feels like a Mark Millar creation, a he specializes in the kind of dark storytelling I don’t like. At lest it wasn’t Frank Miller they took inspiration from…
In the end, this was a great show and a great step outside Marvels comfort zone. If the rest of the Marvel/Netflix shows can maintain this level of quality, then the climatic “The Defenders” team-up series may be a true equal to “The Avengers” films.

Daredevil Ep. 1-4 Mini Review

If you fallow me on Twitter then you know that last night i watched an loved the first three episodes of Netflix/Marvels “Daredevil”. After watching episode 4 today, i thought i’d give you guys a brief run down on what i think so far. i’ll do a “proper” review once i finish the season. First things first: the cast kicks ass. There has yet to be an actor (even in minor roles) that has bothered me in any way. Personally, i would say the stand outs are Charile Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Elden Henson as Foggy Nelson and, surprisingly Skylar Gaertner as young Matt. Normally i hate children actors (9 times out of ten if i know a child actor is one of the main cast i wont see the film), But Gaertner sells the hell out of the recently blinded Murdock, and the chemistry he shares with John Patrick Hayden (as Jack Murdock, the boys father) makes each of the “origin story”-esk flashbacks just as enjoyable as the fight scenes. Cox is also amazing at playing both Murdock and Daredevil, and who ever will be casting the next casting the next “Batman” in it’s inevitable reboot should look to Cox’s performance as the standard to be held. However, i’d say my favorite character so far is Foggy. Henson really makes the character likeable, and i found myself enjoying the him more than i thought i would like any secondary character in the show.

But in the end, this is Daredevil’s show, and like most comic book characters, the character is only as strong as their villains and the action. So how do those elements hold up? Pretty well actually. As it is with all the Marvel properties the focus is on the hero, so none of the villains are up to par with, say, The Joker, but i would say these are the best Marvel has put on screen so far. This is, in part due to how it’s a TV show and not a movie, thus we are give more time with each character. But when it’s time for the Villains to shine, they shine. The end of Episode 4 has one of the most brutal moments either Marvel or DC has shown, and i’m looking forward to when Daredevil has to face off against the man who delivers the beat down. But as anyone who has ever seen a bad action movie can tell you, great action means nothing if it’s poorly shot. Luckily for everyone the choreography and cinematography here are pretty spot on. There’s even one fight in episode 2 or 3 that reminded me of the hallway fight from “Old Boy”. While the show may not be as fun as “Guardians of the Galaxy” or as exciting as “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, over all i do hve to say that this is a nice addition of the MCU.

The Last thing that i can’t praise enough is how much diversity there is in the show. So far one of the main trio is a woman (not uncommon), another returning character is a Latina Nurse, and another reoccurring character is and African American Reporter. Both these characters are intelligent and have agency over their own actions. Even when Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temle becomes a damsel in distress, its due to her inability to let a good man suffer. She made a choose and it had consequences. While i can;t say this is a huge win for diversity in media, it’s still nice to see a version of 21st century New York that doesn’t look like a “rabbit in a snowstorm”.

Now, on to the…i don’t want to say “negatives”, but criticisms. The first is that this does feel somewhat out of place with the rest of the MCU. It’s not so much the darker tone, but the overall look of the show. Up-till now each of the Marvel films have been distinct, yet felt tied together through a somewhat uniformed look. Here, that look isn’t present, making the show feel more like it’s own thing, yes, but also making it feel less apart of the same universe. That may have been the intention, i don’t know, but how instantly i noticed it has made each wink to the rest of the continuity feel…odd.

My only other criticism is that the show, as a whole, feels like it’s trying just a tad to hard to be liked by critics. So far i think the show works, but every episode seems to be trying to say “please don’t judge me as just a superhero show”. because of this you can see some ideas of other critically acclaimed shows Frankensteining their way in this. Again, everything is working, but the need to be liked as more than just  a comic book show irritates me as a comic fan.

In the end though, i really like this show and cant wait to finish the season. What aout you? Have to started watching Daredevil yet? what did you think? leave a comment below and let me know!