Daredevil Season 2 Episodes 5-13 Review

By William Shelton

Okay, the first thing I ant to clear up is that I was wrong about the first four episodes being their own arch. While they did clear up most of the “Daredevil vs Punisher” stuff that was promised in the trailers, the next 9 episodes did continue on as one continuous story. As a whole the show changes focus from episode 5 on, but I was expecting the first four episodes to be largely disconnected from the rest of the series, and that simply wasn’t the case.

Spoilers below.

Episode four ends with Daredevil saving a wounded Punisher from the Irish and Turing him over the police. As Matt Mudock returns home he is greeted by Elodie Yung as Elektra Natchios. We soon learn the two aren’t on the best of terms, so when Elektra asks him to represent her in a business meeting she is having the next day it’s no surprise that he says no. While Elektra leaves after this, she was clearly undeterred by his answer, as the next day a huge amount of money has interned the bank account of Nelson and Murdock. Matt knows instantly where it came from and goes to get answers. Using his super-hearing he spies on the meeting from the roof of a near by building.

Once the meeting is done Matt Makes his way to where Elektra is staying. Elektra reveals both that she is aware that Murdock is Daredevil, and that the two are about the be ambushed by Yakuza in retaliation for a stunt she pulled at the meeting. After the two of them fight the few goons sent their way Elektra explains to Matt the Yakuza are planing something, and her meeting was to uncover who they were working with. Matt agrees to help her so long as she agrees not too kill anyone.

Round the same time as all of this is happening, Matt and Foggy decide to represent Frank Castle, The Punisher, in an attempt to get the charges reduced on his sentence. But as Matt is spends time helping Elektra he begins to miss court, putting more pressure on Foggy as a lawyer and on the two men’s friendship. This doesn’t seem to matter much as no matter how well they do in court it seems like Frank is actively trying to sabotage his own case. This inevitably leads him to prison, where Wilson Fisk is waiting for him.

Upon learning that The Punisher would be making his way to the same prison, Fisk beings planing on ways to use this to his advantage. Even though the character is only in the show for a few episodes this season, actor Vincent D’Onofrio reminds everyone why he was the best part of the first season, and I can’t wait to see what they do with him in the seasons and spin offs to some (I’m hoping he’ll be the big bad for the Avengers like group series The Defenders). Once Fisk is done with Castle he tries to have him killed, but when that doesn’t work he uses his now considerable connections inside the prison to have Frank escape.

The information the Daredevil and Electra find leads them to the same place the now lose Punisher is heading, leading the two men to meet up at a dock where a massive heroine shipment has come in. Unfortunately for the two they didn’t find the person they were looking for, only a decoy.

The Punisher counties his search for the man behind his family’s death as Daredevil movies on, having to find his mentor Stick (the worst part of season one, and sadly the same here) who’s been kidnapped. Daredevil and Elektra find Stick, though they have apposing views on what to do with him as he and Elektra had something of a falling out a few episodes prier. We learn Electra’s back story which, from my understanding, is quite a bit different from the comics, as well as what the villain’s plans have been.

And in the end, it was a whole lot of build up to not much at all.

In fact the Elektra stuff turns out to be the worst part of the show. Elodie Yung does just fine in the role, but it’s the role she was give that’s the issue. I’m okay with the MCU making changes to the comics well established cannon if it helps create more interesting characters, but they literally strip Elektra of any character she might have had. Everything that could have made her interesting was set up either by Stick or by her “destiny” (which is probably the trope I hate the most) and the character herself has no real agency in her own story. And with how much time they spend on her story it really drags the season down. And the sad thing is that this had all the ingredient to make a fantastic bit television. Matt Murdock constantly ruining his own life at chances at real, mature happiness by his own religious need for self destructive pence manifesting itself in his attraction to a woman he knows he shouldn’t be with but can’t help himself while around her….that’s good shit in my opinion. I hope Yung returns in a later season, but I really hope the writers figure out something better for her too do.

In the end, season two was all together better than season one was, but now that we have Jessica Jones to compare both seasons two it’s hard not to see Daredevil as the “Thor” of the netflix based MUC project: serviceable but ultimately the lest necessary of Marvels projects. Daredevil is still worth a watch, and it’s given us one of, if not the best incarnations of The Punisher (who I hope gets his own Netflix show at some point), but it’s the one project they’ve done that I wouldn’t exactly miss if it were scraped all together. I can see a lot more being done with the show and its characters, and I hope the show reaches that point, but this season just didn’t quite reach those possible heights.

Overall I’d give this season



Scorsese Month 2015 Review: Taxi Driver

Director: Martin Sccorsese
Screenplay By: Paul Schrader
Release Date: February 8, 1976
Run Time: 114 minuets
Rating: R
Score: 4/5

For all the praise Martin Sccorsese gets as a film maker, and for all the great things i’ve heard about “Taxi Driver” before watching it, it is almost funny how little I knew about the film before setting down to watch it. Sure, I had heard Robert De Niro’s “You Talking to Me?” monologue before, and I knew he got a kick ass Mohawk at some point in the film, but that was it. The story, the plot, the themes, none of them were known to me when I sat down and watched the film. Because of this I wasn’t expecting to be as relevant as it was. And make no mistake, this has as much to say about today society as “Wolf of Wall Street” did, regardless of the fact that it was released and set in the 1970’s.

“Taxi Driver” is about a man named Travis (played by Robert De Niro), a Viet Nam vet who has returned to New York with some real issues and a hatred of the city. Due to his inability to sleep at night he gets a job as a Taxi Driver to give him something to do. Travis keeps a diary that functions as a narrator throughout the film, and in the beginning he only really talks about how he feels lonely an how he hates the scum of New York (the pimps and drug-dealers) and how he wishes for a Noah-esk rain to wash them all away. This changes a bit when he meats a woman named Betsy. Maybe “meets” is the wrong word. He sees her at one point and thinks that she is pure, unlike the rest of the city, and vows that “they will not touch her”. Travis then stalks her at her job until finally convincing her to go on a date with him…to a porno theater. This upsets Betsy (as i’m sure you could have guessed) and she no longer wants anything to do with him. Travis writes in his diary that he was wrong about her and that it’s now time for some one to do something about the city, so he goes and he buys a few guns and prepares himself to become something of a vigilante.
While this is only the first half of the movie, there is a lot going on that help explain why I think this movie is still relevant. The first thing I noticed is how much Travis sounds like Rorschach from “Watchmen”. Now for those of you how don’t know much about “Watchmen”, Rorschach was writer Alan Moore’s take on comic-book characters like “Batman” and “The Punisher”, normal people inspired by tragedy to take on the criminal underworld. However, Rorschach isn’t the kind of character you are meant too look up to. He was a violent psychopath with no regard for human life. Rorschach was very much a critic and condemnation of that kind of character. Travis function very much the same way, but what is frightening is the response to him that i’ve seen form many people. More on this after point number 2.

The second point about Travis that hits a little to close to home is how he only chooses to become violent after Betsy rejects him. That was the straw that broke the camels back. Not the violence of the city, not the dope men selling to kids: a woman. Travis is the original “Nice Guy”. He is the kind of guy who hides behind manors to mask his sexism, and the kind of guy who hates “scum” to hid his own racism (more on this latter). An what makes this so frightening is that while most people know you shouldn’t want to be Rorschach, the response i’ve most commonly seen when it came to Travis is “he was a good man with a good heart an the will to act on his morals”. When you look at all the police shootings lately, and how many people are sporting the cops instead of the (mostly unarmed) victims, can you really say you are surprise when there is such a powerfully strong and positive reaction to a negative representation of self-righteous bigotry?
For real though, if you show this film to someone and they like or defend Travis, run. Run for your life.
So that was a little heavy, lets get back to something a little lighter. Like Child Prostitution and Cold Blooded Murder. Wait…
One night a young girl jumps into the back of Travis’ cab asking him to “just go”. Before he does however, a man pulls the girl out of the cab, gives Travis a $20 bill and tells him to forget about what happened. Travis doesn’t, and over the next few days the girl becomes his fixation. He soon finds her and talks to her, learning that she is only 12.5 years old and a prostitute working for a man named “Sport”. Travis vows to help get her out, and does so at the end of the movie by killing her pimp and the other men keeping her.
However, that’s not really the end. The movie really ends with a shot of his wall, of people thanking him for what he did, including the girls parents. He then takes on a fair, only to find that it’s Betsy, who his forgiven him and is ready to retry things with him again.
Aw, this would be such a sweet ending if it wasn’t contributing directly yo the movies main themes about the glorification of violence, especially racial based violence in American society. See, throughout the movie Travis talks about the violence of the city and how disgusting it is, a claim that is validated by the city’s response to his own violence. While the pimps were not good people, none of them wronged Travis in any way, and his soul reason for killing them was “you are not acting in a way I agree with”. And the fact that he is allowed to not only walk free but also be made into a hero is the city saying one thing load and clear: so long as I agree with the killers reasons, he is not a criminal.

The racial stuff is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, and in fact, Scorsese even changed part of the film in fear that controversy would break out by those who only look at the service level of a movie. However, both the screen write and Sccorsese (I believe) have said that Travis was a racist. The main way the movie tries to tell us this is by the way he acts around people of color (almost always black) and his response to those who quite clearly are racist. However, it’s most clear in one shot when a group of black men pass him by; we go into slow motion as Travis simply watches, as if he’s waiting for them to become violent.
Another part that was meant to show this was that the part of the pimp was meant to be played by a black actor, but this was changed as I said before. And I think that is the one big flaw in the film. While this depiction of extreme racial violence would have turned some views off, it would have made the underlining theme more clear. And the fact is, there will always be those who confuse depictions of racism with endorsements of racism (for an example of this, look at “Django Unchained”, “Far Cry 4”, “Bioshock Infinite” and so on), so choosing to try an under play this aspect doesn’t help anyone. In fact, it didn’t even help the movie, as at the time of release several critics still mistook the film as being racist.
So now we look at how this compares to the other Sccorsese movies i’ve reviewed so far. Personally i’d say this is my second favorite film from him (Goodfellas still takes top honers), but it is one of the more thematically intense films i’ve seen from him. While “Wolf of Wall Street” had plenty to say about the exploitative nature of capitalism and the like, it was still pretty easy to watch it just as a black comedy. Here the themes are hard to ignore, and there is little that isn’t directly in services to it.
All in all, if it wasn’t for that creative misstep in the casting this would have been a perfect film. As it is, Taxi Driver is still a great film and very much deserving of all the praise it gets. I loved the hell out of it and I think you will too, so go see it if you haven’t already.

Scorsese Month Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenplay By: Terence Winter
Release Date: December 25, 2013
Run Time: 180 minutes
Rating: R

While “The Wolf of Wall Street” isn’t Scorsese’s best movie (that in no way is to say that the film is bad) it is probably the smartest thing he’s done. Smart in that it is trying to make a real, relevant point yes, but more importantly it’s smart in that it is a perfect update to the Scorsese formula. Scorsese made his name telling stories about the mafia and gangsters. So when making a movie like that for the modern age. Who do you focus on? The answer: Wall Street,The Modern Day Gangsters and Crime Lords.
Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a young up and coming Stock Broker who gained the attention of his boss when he tries to sell a stock at his interview. So much so that on his first day Belfort’s boss, Mark Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) offers to take him to lunch. Here Hanna tells Belfort how to make it in the stock market. The most important peace of advise Hanna gives Belfort is…kind of a heavy handed summery of the movies thesis: the free market is bullshit, the stock market is a fraud and as long as you can work it to you advantage who cares about the people you rip off. While I do agree with the over all left of center political views Scorsese is endorsing in the film, having one of the characters basically look top the camera and say “capitalism is inherently wrong and stockbrokers are scum” is a little on the lazy side. The scene isn’t bad, it’s just a little too obvious.
Anyways: the story continues as Belfort takes and passes his setion 7’s and finally becomes a real stockbroker instead of a cold caller. The only problem? His first real day is the same day of a massive market crash. Belfort promptly losses his job and goes to work for another broker company. This particular company sells “pink sheets” or penny stocks. For those who know less than I do about the stock market (and I don’t know much), here is a brief summery: At the time of this writing stock in Disney sells for $90.33. If you bought 1 share and tomorrow the stock went up to $100, you could sell the stock and make $9. 67 profit. The stocks Belfort is selling now sell for around $0.10 each.
However, there is an upside for Belfort: here he gets a 50% commission instead of 1%. So, if he can get some one to buy $4000 dollars worth of stock, he makes $2000. Were as with the other company hes only be making $40. And if nothing else, Belfort is a very good salesman.
As he continues to sell these crap stocks to people he meats who will soon become his best friend and partner (in both stock broking and crime), Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill). At around this same time Belfort’s wife gives him an idea: sell these cheap stocks to wealthier people. See, were for some one like me, buying $4000 worth of stocks is out of my range, for the 1%, they could buy millions worth of these stocks and not even notice the loss. So Belfort and Donnie start their own broker agency, and Belfort teaches some of the lowlifes he used to hang around with how to come off as respectable stockbrokers. The name of this company? Stratton Oakmont. Doesn’t that just sound like the name of a company made to take as much of your money as possible?
As time goes on things are really begin to look up for Belfort and Stratton Oakmont. Every one is making more money that they know what to do with and they are constantly looking for bigger offices. But as a wise man once told me “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is”. With the company growning as fast and doing as well as it was, the FBI begin to ask if Stratton Oakmont’s success was too good to be true. Once Belfort leans about this the movies switches focus on to how he manages to avoids being caught while still doing copious amounts of drugs (and prostitutes), making more money that god and tiring to protect it all. So much happens that I honestly can’t go through everything (the film is 3 hours long). But it is all really good and you should watch it. However, with this movie the one thing I want to talk about the most have nothing to do with the actual movie.
See, when the movie first came out a lot of people were saying that Belfort wasn’t portrayed to be evil enough. With how Belfort is portrayed in the movie that is almost like saying a “Power Ranger” villain isn’t “evil” enough. You literally watch this man steal money hand over fist, cheat on his first wife abuse his second and do enough drugs to stock a small hospital. However, I think the real issue is that Belfort never really pays for his crime. He never gets his comeuppance, so to say. And if you are one of those people, let me just explain this as calmly as possible: THAT WAS THE GOD DAMN POINT. The fact that this man could do what he did and pay so little of a price for it because he was rich was a part of the point the movie was making. If he had paid for everything he did the movie would lose it’s impact. The message would have gone from “we need to end this culture that allows the wealthy to get away with this kind of shit” to “everyone gets what’s coming to them” and that just isn’t true. So yeah, the “controversy” of this movie is soooooo off base with anything even resembling reality that it honestly make me angry to think about.
So, to end this Scorsese Month let’s look at how this movie compares to the other movies I looked at. The first thing I noticed what that the last three movies were all based in either non-fiction or something people believe to be non-fiction. The stories of “Goodfellas” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” are both the stories of real people, while the story of Jesus is…believed by many to have really happened. I’m not sure if that means anything, but it is an interesting discovery. With the first three movies I watched I could see continual growth in Scorsese ability as a story tell. This shows itself in how much better the music is in “The Last Temptation of Christ”, and how much better the over all plot is in “Goodfellas”. In “The Wolf of Wall Street” there isn’t all that much evolution in his directing. However, after making movies for over 40 years, it makes since that he starts to rely on his “persona” as a filmmaker.
If I remember right Scorsese’s next film is going to be a biopic on the punk rock group “The Romans”. I don’t know much about the history of the band, so I can’t say if I find this an “appropriate” use of Scorsese’s talents or not, but they are a great band and Scorsese is a great director, so i’m pretty sure the movie will still be pretty sweet.
And that concludes Scorsese Month 2014. I hope you enjoyed this look at one of my favorite film makers of all time and one of the best working today.