Marvel’s cinematic universe has been surprisingly successful at creating great movies anchored by second-tier (and sometimes third and fourth-tier) super heroes and elevating them into household names.They made half a billion dollars on a movie about a guy whose powers (at the time) included shrinking and ant talking. Visitors to Disney’s California Adventure are currently waiting in two-hour lines for a 45-second ride centered around a super hero team that’s one-fourth talking raccoon.
Netflix’s The Defenders, Marvel’s first real foray into a small-screen shared universe (sorry, Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. and Agent Carter don’t count), falls far short of that sense of cohesion but still delivers a show that will keep fans engaged, though not enthralled.
Let’s be honest. If you want to watch The Defenders, nothing I can say about the first four episodes that Netflix made available to preview will change your mind. In fact, a lot of the negative criticism of The Defenders will be familiar to fans of the solo series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist).
The most glaring of which is the glacier slow-pacing. Netflix’s Marvel shows never seemed to have enough plot to fill up their seasons, and The Defenders seems no different. This is extra surprising when you consider the series will only run for eight episodes as opposed to the
solo series’ thirteen. The pacing is so slow at times, you wonder if it could survive in a traditional TV format. I’d venture to guess that a large part of the viewership would not stick around if there were forced to sit through commercials and wait a week between episodes. Bingeing the show isn’t just fun, it’s almost necessary.
Weirdly, the show spends a lot of the first hour reestablishing the motivations and relationships of characters with 13 hours (26 in Daredevils case) of backstory a literal click away. The team doesn’t get together until a short fight scene that closes episode three, before spending most of episode four debating the team up (spoiler alert: they eventually decide to defend stuff)
Episode one also introduces the villains’ mystical, secret plot, seemingly orchestrated by Sigourney Weaver. In a series that has given us fantastic villain performances by highly acclaimed actors (ie. D’Onofrio, Ali, Tennant), Weaver’s portrayal can be best described as ‘a thing that happened.’ This world needs a scene chewing villain and, four episodes in, what we get are a baddie that combines the most boring parts of Black Mariah from Luke Cage and Harold Meachum from Iron Fist.
All that being said, the show gives you enough that bingeing the series over two days won’t feel like a complete waste of time to fans who are interested in the universe but don’t neccessarily want to watch them all (*cough* Iron Fist *cough*). Early scenes between Daredevil’s Charlie Cox and Jessica Jones’ Krysten Ritter are fantastic. And scenes between Luke Cage’s Mike Colter and Iron Fist’s Finn Jones are a good time to go to the bathroom. The one action set piece in the first four episodes (the one you saw teased on youtube) felt like a fun but ‘diet’ version of the ab-so-lute-ly FANTASIC Daredevil action sequences (Serious…go back and watch those two hall way fight scenes right now). Daredevil season two showrunners Doug Petrie and Marco Ramirez are at the helm and leave the possibility of an action-packed episode five that this reviewer hopes comes a little closer to what they gave us in episode three of Daredevil.
Side note: There is a concerted but very distracting use of color throughout the entire series. Honestly, there’s not one scene where Matt Murdock isn’t coincidentally in front of something bright red or Jessica Jones isn’t bathed in a muted blue light. Billionaire Danny Rand I can only afford green-tinted clothing and and, apparently, Harlem is trying their damnedest to keep the Green Lantern out of the neighborhood (that’s a solid reference about the color yellow…look it up). 99% of the time this insistence on color coding is heavy handed but it regains its subtlety in episode four’s extended Chinese restaurant sequence (For instance, look at the columns near the front door for a cool melding of all four colors).
Long story short, you’re most likely going to start The Defenders. Whether or not you finish it depends on how badly you want to see Daredevil kick Sigourney Weaver in the face. I’ll see you at episode eight…
Marvel’s The Defenders airs on Netflix on August 18th.
Joy Ride Is An Extremely Raunchy And Hilarious Comedy
Joy Ride is an extremely raunchy and hilarious comedy that takes the mantle of ensemble risky
comedies that at times, leave your mouth on the floor. Joy Ride focuses on two best friends
Audrey and Lolo (Ashley Sullivan and Sherry Cola) end up getting roped up into a trip to Asia,
they end up on gals pal cross-continent trek to find Audrey’s long lost birth mother so she
doesn’t lose a huge business deal.
The chemistry in this movie is superb. Every character has their moment to shine and there’s
rarely a scene where you don’t get a belly laugh. I was shocked at how crazy and bold this
movie got, continually pushing the line to get a laugh. The movie does a good job of getting to
the point and getting to the scenes that really make you chuckle. There are some editing choices where the story flies by some stuff, and it feels a little incomplete, but never at the expense of really enjoying being around for the journey.
I thought that this was a sleeper for this year and certainly a movie worth watching with your
friends some weekend. It’s great to throw on if you want a laugh and really just enjoy some
great actors riffing off each other. The focus on culture was a nice touch and really elevated the movie to another level. While I would say if you’re easily offended, this movie is not for you – if you’re looking for a no holds barred comedy, Joy Ride is a trip worth taking.
Who Doesn’t Want To Wear The Ninja Suit Of Snake-Eyes Or Dress Like The Mandalorian?
Hasbro has had their pulse app out for a while now. It allows for access to items to buy, preorder, and a look into future projects and releases. It also allows for a very cool thing most nerds (a group of which I am a proud card-carrying member) have always wanted, the ability to make yourself into an action figure. I’ve contemplated making one for a time but, I finally got my chance to get my hands on one at Comic-Con this year. Now, of course, I had to wait in line as it was a pretty sought-after item. Who doesn’t want to have themselves wear the ninja suit of Snake-Eyes or dressed like a Mandalorian? I was approached by one of the booth staff as I was showing my nephew all the cool ways we could get him his own MIles Morales action figure with his face (as he’s a massive fan) and invited to take a seat and scan our faces into the Hasbro Pulse app with the help of their awesome team and make this dream a reality. My wife was with us, so of course she got in on the fun too. We scanned our faces in and it was very simple and quick. Then we all selected our figures to add our heads to. We all chose Power Rangers(Me as the Black Ranger, my wife chose the pink ranger and the nephew got the red ranger). Then we were told that we needed to wait about 4-6 weeks and we’d have our custom action figure team in our hands. This was a major part of our Comic-Con adventure and definitely, a memory my wife and nephew won’t forget (as it was both of their first Con ever). Thank you to Hasbro for being so generous(also getting me brownie points that home) and I highly suggest checking out Hasbro Pulse and all the cool stuff it has to offer.
The Last Voyage of the Demeter: Double-knock on wood!
Adapted and written largely from the Captain’s Log chapter of Bram Stoker’s magnum opus Dracula, The Last Voyage of the Demeter tells the story of Dracula’s journey by ship from Carpathia to London, and what happened to her crew in the interim.
So here we are in Bulgaria, middle of 1897, and Captain Eliot (Liam Cunningham) of the Russian schooner Demeter is here to take on some strange cargo from some unknown client and transport it to Carfax Abbey in London. In need of some extra hands, the Captain sends out his capable Second Wojchek (David Dastmalchian) to scout for some, and initially the roving black doctor and aspiring philosopher Clemens (Corey Hawkins) is passed over in favor of more work-roughened men. The adorable cabin boy of the Demeter, Toby (Woody Norman), narrowly misses being crushed by the mysterious dragon-marked crates being loaded onto the ship, saved by Clemens himself and switched out with the superstitious sailors running from the Demeter like they had been poisoned by the sign of Dracul. And now, armed with some nine or so crewmen, Doc Clemens, and Captain Eliot himself, the twenty-four strange what looks like coffins adorned with dragon signs brought mostly safely aboard, the Demeter can make for open water and the Hell that awaits them there.
The duty of showing Clemens around the ship falls to a cheerful Toby, who proudly shows him the living areas, the Captain’s quarters, the very-large cargo hold, the galley and kitchen where the overly-devout Joseph (Jon Jon Briones) cooks the crews meals, the various above decks, even the sails, and the rigging are all at least touched on, and the livestock pens that Toby himself is in charge of, including the handsome good-boy doggy Huckleberry, or just Huck. We the audience get a very clear feeling of what it’s like to actually be aboard the Demeter, just how large she really is, and what living on a ship for months at sea is really like, the reality and practicality and the dangers of it.
Everyone more or less settles in for a hopefully uneventful voyage, taking mess around the common table and exchanging ideas or aspirations for when they arrive in London early thanks to the fair winds, and receive a handsome bonus for their troubles. But that involves being alive and making it to London to spend said bonus and pay, and the coffin crates spilling dark soil from the motherland and disgorging all sorts of other nasty secrets, have some serious plans to the contrary.
First, it’s the livestock, innocent and shrieking in their locked pens as a monster takes great furious bites out of their necks, and of course, the creature just straight up ruins poor doggy Huck. Then there’s the fully grown girl that gets dislodged from an open coffin-crate, covered in bite scars and as pale as death, she eventually starts interacting and talking after several blood transfusions from Doc Clemens, Toby learns her name is Anna (Aisling Franciosi). And then, as the weather turns foul and the winds begin to be a serious problem, the attacks turn toward the remaining humans onboard the Demeter.
Most people these days are familiar with Dracula, that gorgeous cunning vampire Elder who can supposedly transform into a bat or a wolf, seducing women to voluntarily offer up their veins like an unholy sacrament, a being at once beautiful and powerful, but also horrific and murderous if given half a heartbeat to smell your blood. This is not Dracula.
Instead, the creature that hunts the humans occupying the Demeter is an absolute monster, not a single human feature left to it, barely even recognizable as humanoid-shaped, instead boasting not just full-length bat wings but an entire exo-skin of bat membranes that can be used for feeding, a mouth full of needle-like teeth akin to a predator of the deepest darkest parts of the ocean, those yellowed Nosferatu eyes that will not tolerate light in any way, and of course giant pointy bat-ears. This is a thing, a grotesque straight from the depths of Hell, and no amount of glamor magic can make this Dracula (Javier Botet) seem like anything other than what he, is – a parasitic demon who only wants your blood. There is no reasoning with it, no trapping it, not even really any talking to it (kinda hard to talk when your throat has been ripped out), and, like the much more frightening Dracula stories of old, no amount of pure faith behind a symbol does anything other than give false hope.
Coming face to face with an actual abomination does different things to different people. The formerly delightfully foul-mouthed Abrams (Chris Walley) dissolves into a blubbering mess; poor Larsen (Martin Furulund) didn’t even get to see his own death coming; and it turns out Olgaren (Stefan Kapicic) wants to live so badly, he’ll suffer becoming a blank-eyed Renfield if that’s what it takes. All of Cook Joseph’s purported pure faith didn’t stop him from trying to take the coward’s way out and didn’t save him anyway when the sound of unnatural bat wings descended on him. I find that kind of irony delicious. Dear Anna, resigned to her fate to be eternal food for the horror that terrorized her village, nevertheless wants to try and save whoever is left of the Demeter with her own sacrifice, and there aren’t many. Wojchek of course wants to kill Dracula, but for all his logic and solid practical nature, has no experience whatsoever with this sort of thing, and sure doesn’t want to sacrifice the Demeter, the beloved ship he called home that was promised to him by Captain Eliot himself, in order to destroy that demon. Even poor sweet Toby isn’t safe from the creature’s clutches, and what happens to the cabin boy of the Demeter is what finally sends Captain Eliot over the blooming edge. And who could blame him? For this sort of thing to happen during the last voyage of such a proud, solid ship as the Demeter, is some serious bullsh*t.
To leave such a film open for a potential sequel, especially when called the last voyage of something, was a pretty hefty ask, and somehow the filmmakers managed it. I personally think a different version of Van Helsing, the infamous vampire hunter, teaming up with a certain black doctor who nurses a serious grudge against Dracula, could be a kickass sequel. Until then, experience the doomed final journey of the Demeter and her poor crew in all it’s bloodstained glory, in theaters now!