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.
Caesar’s Reign Comes To The Big Screen With New Trailer For Kingdom Of The Planet Of The Apes
Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the global, epic franchise set several generations in the future following Caesar’s reign, in which apes are the dominant species living harmoniously and humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader builds his empire, one young ape undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Wes Ball (the “Maze Runner” trilogy) and stars Owen Teague (“IT”), Freya Allan (“The Witcher”), Kevin Durand (“Locke & Key”), Peter Macon (“Shameless”), and William H. Macy (“Fargo”). The screenplay is by Josh Friedman (“War of the Worlds”) and Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (“Avatar: The Way of Water”) and Patrick Aison (“Prey”), based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver, and the producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick, Jr., p.g.a. (“The Maze Runner”), Rick Jaffa, p.g.a., Amanda Silver, p.g.a., Jason Reed, p.g.a. (“Mulan”), with Peter Chernin (the “Planet of the Apes” trilogy) and Jenno Topping (“Ford v. Ferrari”) serving as executive producers.
Masterchef Is Back! For Halo Season 2
A quick recap – Halo is set in a war-torn 26th century, where humanity led by the United Nations Space Command or UNSC and their supersoldiers known as Spartans, fights against the onslaught of the alien conglomerate known as the Covenant. The full dust-up of Halo Season 1, can be found here. Onward into the introduction of Halo Season 2!
It’s been six months since the forced separation of Spartan Masterchief John (Pablo Schreiber) and Cortana (Jen Taylor), and the Silver Team has been sent on a mission to evacuate residents of the planet Sanctuary before the Covenant glasses the whole thing. This comes with its own set of challenges, given the resistance of the planet’s inhabitants, and it doesn’t help that Masterchef starts seeing things right in the middle of trying to save some marines. Or is he? Those energy swords the squad of Elites were carrying looked worryingly real.
Back on Reach, the Silver Team is entirely dismayed to learn they have a brand new Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) representative come in as the new boss, to finally replace the traitorous Halsey, James Ackerson (Joseph Morgan). And of course, Ackerson manages to immediately get under Masterchief’s skin, by not only expressing far too much interest in John’s relationship with Cortana but also apparently disbelieving of John’s report of his encounters on Sanctuary. That just means Masterchief has to go around, if not entirely over, Ackerson’s head.
Elsewhere, Soren (Bokeem Woodbine) is trolling the slave markets in his boredom, only to stumble across a soon-to-be indentured servant who claims he knows the whereabouts of the UNSC’s most hunted human, Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone). That should bring a huge bounty, but really, Soren should’ve known better by now.
Halo Season 2 premieres Thursday, February 8th, 2024, and will continue to air every Thursday, only on Paramount+!
Reborn as a Vending Machine I Now Wander the Dungeon’: I look forward to your next use!
If the title of this delightful little isekai anime entry didn’t give it all away, our nameless protagonist is a vending machine fanatic who, after being killed by a vending machine, gets reincarnated in another fantasy-style world as one!
Japan has a tendency to give birth to all sorts of crazed fads that can last for decades, and no one does better when it comes to the vending machine industry, too. These days there are vending machines that will serve you sushi you can actually eat, hot pizza in the box, wagyu steaks, freshly popped popcorn, and a whole mind-boggling array of tasty treats, and other non-edible but still useful items! Umbrellas! Condoms! Oxygen masks, sterile bandages, shoes, and emergency clothing! Actually, far more things that we use on an everyday basis, could be considered as technically a vending machine, and the anime explores that beautifully. Into the world of vending machine fanaticism, we dive!
So our poor protagonist never gave a name, and inevitably when he’s discovered by his first official friend the starving hunter Lammis, she dubs him “Boxxo”. Like many isekai that seem to take inspiration from video games and RPGs, Boxxo discovers he ways he can communicate, level up his existence, and even evince magic-like powers and attack and defend against monsters and enemies. Though in the beginning, and as an underlying theme throughout the show, Boxxo is primarily concerned with providing unique never-before-tasted-in-this-world food and drink to the amazed folk, human and otherwise.
Boxxo’s prices are entirely reasonable and hey, he can even choose to give out his wares for free on occasion, so his popularity immediately skyrockets. Lammis with her awkward charm and prodigious strength blessing, introduces Boxxo to other friends of Clearflow Lake Village and associates along the way – Director Bear, an actual bear-monster who’s the head of the Hunters Association; Lammis’ friend Hulemy, the insane genius magic item engineer; the Bearcats Suco, Pell, Short and Mikenne, cheerful hunters with astronomic appetites; even suspicious Kerioyl, leader of the Menagerie of Fools party.
The show approaches the practicality and versatility of the true vending machine with amusement, but also with the love true fans display for things they’re passionate about. Certainly, things like a brothel needing a condom vending machine exist in our world, but to toss them into a potentially more innocent other-world isekai is a welcome and often hilarious treat. The show celebrates the cheerful idiocy and devotion of the fans to their chosen fandom, in this case, yes vending machines, but also the spirit of the lonely otaku finally finding their Tribe!
Pay your coins to watch ‘Reborn as a Vending Machine’ on Crunchyroll now!