TV Show Review: The Punisher

Details: Released on Netflix in 2017. There are thirteen episodes with each episode about an hour long.

The Punisher is one of the better Netflix-Marvel shows and most of that is because of Jon Bernthal. Bernthal takes what could have been a mediocre narrative and elevates it into something a little bit better.

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Movie Review: Thor: Ragnarok

Details: Released in 2017. Directed by Taika Waititi. Stars Chris HemsworthTom HiddlestonCate Blanchett. Over two hours long.

Among Marvel’s movie properties, I think Thor is the franchise that they’ve had the hardest time figuring out how to approach. The last two films weren’t great, at least not as good or character redefining as Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Thor: Ragnarok takes the franchise in a different direction and does it mostly successfully. This new direction feels like they took Guardians of the Galaxy and mashed it with that comedic short clip where Thor moves in with Darryl the office worker. I’ll provide the clip below.

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Comic Book Review: Infamous Iron Man

Details: First published in 2016. This is a review of issues one through twelve. Official site is http://marvel.com/comics/series/22596/infamous_iron_man_2016_-_present

At the end of Secret Wars, the Fantastic Four bid their adieu and disappeared, possibly never to return. While it is common knowledge that superheroes never truly die, it seemed as if the Fantastic Four had finally met its match: greedy fucking business people fighting over movie rights who were willing to kill a historic comic book series in order to get their way. In my stupor over the potential death of the Fantastic Four comic book line, I desperately looked for some alternative to get my science fiction comic book fix. Luckily, Marvel decided not to wipe out all the characters in the Fantastic Four franchise and left us with the Infamous Iron Man.

There won’t be spoilers for Infamous Iron Man ahead, but I will go over the events leading up to Infamous Iron Man.

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Movie Review: Spider-Man: Homecoming

 

Details: Released in 2017. Over two hours long. Stars Tom HollandMichael KeatonRobert Downey Jr.

Spider-Man returns and we finally get a look at the kind of Spider-Man movie the Marvel movie machine would make. Before getting into specifics, I’m going to say that Spider-Man: Homecoming is a good movie that takes a very slightly different take on the character as compared to the prior Spider-Man movies.

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Comic Book Review: Doctor Strange (2015) Issues 1 through 20

Details: Published by Marvel Comics. Mostly written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Chris Bachalo.

I’ve never been a big fan of Doctor Strange. I’ve enjoyed watching him interact with other characters in the Marvel Universe, like when he was in the Illuminati or when he was god Doom’s sheriff. That changed with this series. They invoked one of my comic book weaknesses; they got Bachalo to do art.

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TV Show Review: Iron Fist, Season 1

Details: Aired on Netflix. Thirteen episodes at about an hour each.

The unfortunate part about Iron Fist and its most attractive quality is that it is part of the Marvel cinematic, superhero universe. People like watching Marvel superhero stuff. Unfortunately, when compared with the other Netflix/Marvel superhero shows, this is clearly the worst of the bunch.

The story is about the return of Danny Rand. Years ago, Danny Rand and his parents were all presumed dead after their plane crashed in the Himalayas. Turns out that while his parents apparently died, Danny survived and became a martial artist with the power to turn his fists into indestructible weapons. Now he returns to New York City to find his place in the world and fight new threats.

I think the primary reason why this show is lacking compared to Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage is because there doesn’t seem to be any goal for the show to focus on. With Daredevil, they already established a kick ass, gritty, martial arts, action show. With Jessica Jones, you had this focus on a Noir, detective story with superhero twist and also told from the perspective of a victimized woman who’s been raped in body and mind, but tries to overcome it and empower herself. Luke Cage is your attempt at a black, crime drama, similar in tone to The Wire or Empire, with a superhero twist. I think the draw of the Netflix superhero shows was that they took a genre of fiction and injected superpowers into them. That made the shows familiar, yet new and interesting. It also helped that comic book fans got to see their favorite superheroes in live action.

And now we land on Iron Fist. What’s the twist here? What’s the focus? I’m not sure what tone or atmosphere they were trying to achieve here. There was some articles written on how Iron Fist should have starred an Asian protagonist. It could have gone into what life as an Asian immigrant was like and how having super powers would spin that. It certainly would have made sense and shown yet another side of the Marvel movie universe. It would also go along with their themes of diversity (Daredevil is disabled; Jessica Jones is a woman; Luke Cage is black).

However, that’s not what we got. Everything I saw in this series I saw done better in Daredevil. The whole series felt like Daredevil-lite. There were a lot of action scenes, but they felt slow and empty. The action, the acting, and the story were not impressive. I’m not saying this is an awful show, it’s just cringy and not at the level of the other Netflix superhero stuff.

I think the primary problem here is the casting. The performances and dialogue made me cringe many times. None of the people here were too great and they didn’t really fit… which I guess leads to the writing. The motivations for a lot of these characters were hard to believe. The whole story felt mostly pointless, which would be fine to me if only the action scenes were better choreographed or had some emotion in them. Unfortunately, they did not.

Overall, Iron Fist isn’t great. I was mostly bored. It might still be worth watching if you’re bored and need something to pass the time. Otherwise, I think you can just skip it.

Score: 5/10

TV Show Review: Legion, Season One Episode One, “Chapter 1”

Details: Each episode is about an hour long. Planned to be an eight episode series for this season. Airs on FX.

If you’ve studied film history, you’d be well aware that there was a precise point in time when the works of Sigmund Freud not only invaded popular culture, but into the movies. Instead of explaining every little detail in order to convey motivations to the audience, movies started making assumptions about characters’ mental states and the audience started understanding those assumptions. Similar to books and perhaps to a greater extent, movies and television shows allow the understanding of a state of mind and the psychology of a character. This first episode of Legion is a good example of that.

Legion is a new, eight episode television series that is airing on Fox. It’s based upon an X-Men comic book character named Legion who is one of the most powerful beings on the planet with powers that pretty much allow him to do anything. The only downside is that Legion is crazy; Legion has multiple personality disorder and not only can he not control these other personalities, in the comic book, each personality controls a different power. When one of these personalities surfaces, it’s a guessing game as to whether it’s good, benign, or evil. It’s anyone’s guess how this character will be approached by the television series, but the first episode seems to embrace that craziness.

I really enjoyed this first episode and love that it’s an eight episode miniseries versus something lower budget and twenty something episodes long. I enjoy this trend in programming. Since Netflix and the prevalence of binge watching an entire television series, there has been a perceived evolution towards shorter length television seasons with higher length individual episodes and much better quality per episode. I think this is directly because of the increasing popularity of streaming services. TV shows traditionally made money based on how many people watched them and their associated advertisements. Accordingly, it used to make sense to have lots of little episodes to fill time slots that made purchasing and pricing air time easier and for programming to be more digestible to viewers. Since the advent of paid subscriptions for content, there’s no more need to appease advertisers as much. People can watch shows whenever or wherever they want through the internet. The goal has changed to simply provide better content in order to make the subscription service appealing as a whole versus trying to get eyeballs on a certain show at a certain time. That means making better programming, which seems to mean more high budget miniseries and less fluff shows.

Legion certainly seems to be one of these higher quality miniseries. The quality and likely higher budget of this first episode reminds me of something I’d see on Netflix or HBO, and that’s a good thing. There are a lot of special effects used and the story, the shots used and the editing are much more thoughtful than Arrow or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

I don’t want to get too much into the story for fear of spoilers, but the main character is crazy and the story is trippy. It’s different from any other show I can think of right now, which is nice. That this story is connected to the X-Men is largely tangential in this first episode, but there are clear indicators they are related. It’s unclear as of yet whether this show shares the same universe as the cinematic X-Men or Marvel universe.

The acting was great. The only face I could recognize was Aubrey Plaza. She was good.

Overall, a good first episode that has hooked me for the rest of the season. I hope to see more shows like this.

Score: 7.5/10

Comic Book Reviews: Books Released on January 25, 2016

I didn’t review anything last week because nothing looked good. Found some this week though.

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #10

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/57875/captain_america_steve_rogers_2016_10

Not my favorite book of the week, but still something I keep coming back to. This book is mostly a retelling of evil Captain America’s origin as it was rewritten by the Cosmic Cube and the unfolding of evil Captain America’s grand plan. It’s not an emotional book. It just lays out the series of events in order. I read it mostly because I want to see where it’s all going, which seems to be a big Marvel event that is coming down the road.

Score: 5/10

 

Civil War II: The Oath (2017) #1

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/60574/civil_war_ii_the_oath_2017_1

The only reason this book is worth mentioning is that the end of the book gives you a glimpse at evil Captain America’s end game. I probably wouldn’t buy the book. Just walk into your local comic book store and read the last few pages.

Score: 3/10

 

Doctor Strange (2015) #16

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/55430/doctor_strange_2015_16

Bachalo’s art. That’s the main reason to buy this book. The story is fine, I just don’t like that Doctor Strange has become a mystical Tony Stark. Doctor Strange used to be a more wise, mysterious character. Now her cracks jokes and reminds me more of the Doctor Strange in the movies. A big change to attract a more mainstream audience I guess.

Score: 6/10

 

Infamous Iron Man (2016) #4

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/61550/infamous_iron_man_2016_4

Likely my favorite book of the moment. I’ve seen Maleev’s art before and I’ve always enjoyed it. That doesn’t change here. It’s just fun to see this spin on Doctor Doom. Not much progression in this issue, but still all right.

Score: 6/10

 

Inhuman V. X-Men (2016) #3

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/61596/inhumans_vs_x-men_2016_3

Another fine issue. Worth the purchase if you’ve been following along.

Score: 6/10

 

Justice League v. Suicide Squad (2016) #6

http://www.dccomics.com/comics/justice-league-vs-suicide-squad-2016/justice-league-vs-suicide-squad-6

Not a great book, but I can see the appeal if you’re interested in the Justice League or the Suicide Squad.

Score: 4.5/10

Comic Book Reviews: Comics Released on January 11, 2017

All Star Batman (2016) #6

http://www.dccomics.com/comics/all-star-batman-2016/all-star-batman-6

This series is really starting to feel like Paul Dini’s animated series in that all the villains seem to be getting their own little story, Snyder style. This time, it’s Mr. Freeze. The story does not feel as good as what was done by Snyder prior on Batman, but it was still all right. I’m going to keep reading this series regardless of quality because Snyder plus Batman equals compulsive reading.

Score: 6/10

 

Captain America: Steve Rogers (2016) #9

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/57874/captain_america_steve_rogers_2016_9

Not a great issue, but not terrible. I mainly read this issue because I’m eager to see what evil Captain America’s plan is. Guess I’ll patiently wait for that reveal.

Score: 6/10

 

Inhumans v. X-Men (2016) #2

https://marvel.com/comics/issue/61595/ivx_2016_2

My favorite book of the week and another reason why X-Men comic books are still awesome and should not be canceled. The X-Men begin their assault on the Inhumans in this issue and it all feels right unlike what happened in Civil War II. The motivations all feel right. For instance, the X-Men are trying to fight for their lives and even still, try to protect civilians. It’s a good book. Additionally, I’ve always liked Yu’s artwork despite internet comments to the contrary.

Score: 7.1/10

 

Justice League v. Suicide Squad #4 of 6

http://www.dccomics.com/comics/justice-league-vs-suicide-squad-2016/justice-league-vs-suicide-squad-4

Just of bunch of action involving a lot of DC Comics characters. What was interesting was seeing the New 52 versions of a lot of characters I had not seen before. Still, not a great book.

Score: 5/10

 

The Might Thor (2015) #15

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/55802/mighty_thor_2015_15

First and foremost, Dauterman’s art is sublime and fits the subject matter perfectly. There’s just something magical and mythical about how he draws these characters and the flow of the action. The story here is also interesting and has me looking forward to seeing what comes next. What seemed like a story involving science fiction aliens versus fantasy Norse mythology turned into a story that will likely smash all those elements into a smorgasbord of all of the above. It’s going to be good. This is my favorite book of the week.

Score: 7/10

 

Spider-Man (2016) #12

http://marvel.com/comics/issue/55706/spider-man_2016_12

I’m not loving this story line, but I am interested in seeing a cross over with Spider Gwen. I wish this series will go back to the high school meets superhero dynamic that I’ve come to expect. Oh well, guess I’ll just keep reading along and hope for the best.

Score: 5/10