Review: Marvel/Netflix- The Defenders

srfIn the era of superheroes on the silver screen, the superhero team is a destination that no fan can resist the prospect of visiting. The movement of hero teams has come a long way since the X Men franchise, spawning the Avengers universe, Guardians of the Galaxy, Suicide Squad and the soon-to-be-released production of the first ever Justice League film. The Defenders may come up as small fish in a big pond in this world, but with a showrunner as massive and well respected as Netflix at the helm and a moderately strong foundation of solo origin stories, expectations were fairly high in my world.

Unfortunately, after Daredevil set a gold standard for what a graphic, no holds barred Marvel entity could look like, things began to take a downturn thereafter. Jessica Jones was a formidable achievement in assembling a mostly female cast in an incredibly dark story, but it suffered with characters getting screen time that I cared little for. Daredevils second season was given a mixed response from the general public, but I still felt the magic with both its exceptional heroes and villains, as well as its action. What followed was, needless to say, a downward spiral. Luke Cage was simply lacking- and Iron Fist proved to be so utterly mediocre that I barely got past the first episode.

Defenders succeeds in a few things, but unfortunately it only succeeds in those few things. The pacing is incredibly slow-taking at least three episodes (out of only 8) before the team “assembles” as it were. That coming together lasts a very short time when Iron Fist is separated both physically and emotionally from the group. The basis for their collaboration is to bring down the mystical, menacing ninja organization called ‘The Hand’. The danger is apparent only because we have seen their influence in past shows, but at no point is it clear exactly what the hell the danger is. They speak in nothing but cryptic and generic villainous phrases about “the plan” for the majority of the story, and there seems to be little urgency in executing said plan. Any life threatening situation involving a member of ‘The Hand’ comes down to them being somehow more stealthy, agile and impenetrable than the superheroes themselves. Again, there is little tension or danger to be felt in any real way on either side. The Hand doesn’t seem to feel much threat from the Defenders (they barely know anything about them) and they rely on their fearless leader- Sigourney Weaver-to decide their actions.

Image result for defenders the hand

As strong as Weaver is, her role in this show suffers from the same bland, cryptic, generic, threatening quips which result in her saying or doing very little aside from talking to Elektra, asserting her dominance and saying “the black sky” “the black sky” and “the black sky”. Oh, and “the plan”. Are they ever going to tell us exactly why the Black Sky is this once in a lifetime savior of all that is bad and evil, aside from the fact that she can kill loads of ninjas? The way that Alexandra talks about the Black Sky to the other members of the hand feels an awful lot like Luke and Obi Wan trying to convince Han Solo that the force is real. She seems to be this aspect of their spiritual or religious beliefs that only Alexandra believes in-and she took very little effort to elaborate on what exactly her place in this grand scheme was meant to be. This was a very vague and non-specific brand of evil-unlike someone such as Kilgrave-who could create absolute devastation in a single thought and whos evil was enough to make your skin crawl. I felt myself longing for the complexity, depth and strength in the character development and stories of Wilson Fisk and Frank Castle- dangerous men who took real action, held real relationships and felt real pain in defeat.

This lackluster dialogue issue doesn’t just apply to these boring villains, either. There was so very little substance in the conversations and back-and-forth between most every relationship in this show. I felt little connection to the shallow and simplistic script shoved onto a group of decent actors. I felt bored by it. This was most evident in every scene involving Iron Fist and company, where I saw a noticeable drop in the quality of both the acting and the writing-like they were still separate people writing for each hero.

The action on the show certainly stood up in terms of choreography and epic moments for each character to showcase their powers- but something was seriously up with the editing here. In the first couple episodes especially, the cuts felt so choppy and there was little flow to speak of. It was the most rushed, yet slow moving show that I’ve seen in awhile. Its like this show ran on an Agents of Shield production budget with Netflix level censorship.

Image result for defenders the hand

Not only are The Defenders up against this mysterious and widespread virus of an organization that has engulfed their own cities seedy underbelly as well as others around the world, but they have to contend with working around the law and remaining somewhat discrete to the general public. The element of the law-for most of this series- seems meant to be incredibly annoying and constantly getting in their way. Yes, it does make sense that the Defenders all have mainstream connections that assist them in their vigilantism, but often they served as a device to stall the real action from happening. There is also this pesky problem with Iron Fist, going around with the same dumb face all the time, being a pawn on both sides of the fight. This element of the story made sense, but with little personal connection to the rest of the Defenders, their worry for his well being never felt truly passionate.

It looks a bit like this, but mad.

As far as supporting characters go, there really was nobody worth noting aside from Rosario Dawson. She exuded more passion and delivered in a more believable way than most of her costars throughout. She served as a strong buoy with which to connect the islands of each series together-but I wish that they had taken the time to build their relationships through their connections to Claire, perhaps through Daredevils wanting to bring down both Fisk and the Hand. Perhaps I just wanted Fisk to be the villain. I miss Fisk, guys.

Now, for some good points.

One thing that I really and truly loved in the Defenders was their use of color. In nearly every single scene you will notice that the color palette of the environment has shifted completely either as a whole or around each individual character. Jessica Jones is always in front of-or engulfed in-purple. Luke Cage lives in a yellow tinge. Iron Fist-especially towards the end- basks in dark green. Daredevil of course, is surrounded with red. In the fight scene between Jessica and Daredevil, the room is a mixture of red and purple- almost giving away that Daredevil was about to pop up before the audience even saw him. That element was very clever and I felt really amused by it, almost distracted by it.

Image result for defenders elektra

In the vein of visuals, I was happy with many of the costume choices for the characters- half of which don’t really wear “costumes”. Luke Cage was almost always rocking either a bright yellow shirt or a hoodie with a yellow lining, so that it was always visible around his neck. Jessica basically just ran, fought and slept in the same infinity scarf, leather jacket and combat boots the entire time, while Danny adopted a dark green ensemble towards the end-exposed chest on display. Daredevil and Elektra were the only superheroes dressed like traditional superheroes at all-and I really and truly loved both takes on their classic attire. It didn’t make a whole lot of sense why Elektra was given such a strange outfit with which to serve as a living weapon, but I was happy with the look. I hope to see Daredevils suit connection branch out with his new colleagues!

Needless to say, in a world where the action scene is becoming more and more high quality ( a la John Wick) and writing for superhero properties can be as fantastic as we have seen in things like Daredevil, Logan, Deadpool, etc- it is truly unfortunate that Defenders came out to feel so very uncared for. Perhaps it was rushed. Perhaps there was never a great handle on the story. Maybe the collaboration between shows wasn’t there-because I didn’t feel a whole lot of it. Aside from some badass moments from characters like Stick and Daredevil, a couple of “hell yeah” fight sequences and a few treats for the fans, I felt very little love in this project.

What was meant to serve as the “climax” of this tale was an empty threat- because Daredevil already has a third season. Of course, I’m entirely curious as to how exactly those events played out- but I didn’t for a single second believe that Matt Murdock was actually gone for good. Thats how this whole “show renewal” thing works.

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12 Days of Christmas (Specials)-Day 3-“XMas Story” from Futurama Season 2

I honestly don’t watch a whole lot of Futurama. It just isn’t up there for me. However, I always seem to remember this particular episode and its repetitive use of the word “XMas”.

Fry longs for the traditional Christmas that he used to have in the 20th century, so his friends decide to help him celebrate ‘XMas’-the modern interpretation of the holiday. Advancements in robotics have produced a mechanical Santa that performs the duties of the traditional Santa Claus, including figuring out who is naughty and who is nice. Unfortunately, a glitch in his programming caused him to become a gun wielding psychopath who murders (who he interprets to be) the “naughty” after sundown.

Fry realizes that Leela has only sad memories of the Christmas and sets out to find her a great gift. After buying her a parrot, she soon shows up to rescue him from the homicidal Santa. Bender and his robot friends offer shelter, but before long Santa finds his way in and has to be thwarted by Dr Zoidberg.

He promises to exact his revenge.

Does he exact his revenge? Maybe I need to keep watching the show…

The Geekend Roundup: This Week in Movies and TV

Movies

AGE OF ULTRON TRAILER GUYS!

Seriously, how much longer do we need to wait? This third official trailer was released on March 4th and it shows us brand new footage of everything that we’ve wanted to see. Hulk busting, Hulkbuster, Hulk busting the Hulkbuster, Ultron AND a special little peek at the mysterious Vision! I don’t want them to show him in his entirety until the movie comes out, but unless I avoid the internet entirely over the next 2 months that seems nearly impossible. Heres hoping!

The man himself-Joss Whedon-saw down with SFX recently to talk about his two newest character attractions-Vision and Ultron. It sounds like he is resting a lot of hope on the powerhouse talents of James Spader and the angry awesomeness of Ultron. I cannot wait to see what he has in store for us! Check out the interview here.


Earlier in the week, Marvel started to release individual character posters alongside an official cast poster that is a sheer clusterf*k drowning in Photoshop and terrible proportions.

Gimme simplicity!

Chris Hemsworth may have given away the entire ending of the movie during his appearance on Saturday Night Live this week. SPOILER ALERT!


It has been a relatively slow season for movies, and I haven’t seen a whole lot lately that has caught my attention, aside from ‘Kingsmen: The Secret Service’ (which was fantastic, for the record). However, the brilliant Neil Blomkamp released his newest sci fi effort ‘CHAPPiE’ this weekend. I saw it, I reviewed it, and I loved it. I was extremely disappointed to find out that it has been panned by critics, but relieved to see that it has been getting generally positive feedback from viewers. I am sincerely hoping that the bad critic backlash does not deter people from seeing the film. They got it wrong this time!

Check out my review here!


Television

HBO has officially launched its streaming service at a cost of $15 a month. Although the consumer industry in general is going “unplugged” and seeking out options like this, the question remains: would you pay $15 a month just to watch HBO programming? Some die hard Game of Thrones fans might say yes, but for the general public-they may still be persuaded to simply stream or download GOT, Boardwalk Empire, Veep etc. If the trend catches on, as it clearly has with Netflix, Crackle etc, better rates could follow. NBC has its sights set on something similar where they offer a package that includes Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon in one package.Their proposed price point is only about $2.5-$3.5 per month.

Will you pay $15 a month to watch HBO?


The news of passing celebrities seems to be coming in far too consistently lately. On March 4th we lost Daniel Von Bargen-better known as George Costanzas flighty boss Mr Kruger from ‘Seinfeld’. RIP Mr Bargen


Agents of Shield has returned! So, what have they become? I won’t divulge too much for those who are still not caught up, but the mid season premiere finally gave us a few answers, all the while raising more tantalizing questions. This has become the addicting formula of ‘Agents of Shield’ since the series began. The most important thing to know right now is that they are setting us up for the ‘Inhumans’ storyline that Marvel has promised us a 2018 feature film in its Phase 3 lineup.

The fate of S.H.I.E.L.D and rival Hydra is constantly hanging by a thread, as they are caught in a power struggle that often brings ramifications of a global scale. On the next episode, we are reportedly getting another visit from the beautiful warrior Lady Sif of Asgard. Why? Your guess is as good as mine!


Binge show extraordinaire ‘Orange is the New Black’ has an official return date of June 12th. In case you were going to check-its a Friday. So book off your weekend.


An official photo has been released of Melissa Benoist in her new Supergirl costume for the upcoming CBS/DC series. Costume designer Colleen Atwood -who also designed costumes for ‘Arrow’ and ‘Flash’ describes the costume as a melding of the classic look, but brought into modern day. Reception for the new costume has been overly positive, and Benoist looks great in it. I am a fan.

Supergirl

Benoist is making a solid name for herself, originating as (basically) Lea Micheles replacement on ‘Glee’, but most recently giving an outstanding performance in ‘Whiplash’ as Miles Teller’s love interest.


Casting News and Rumours:

  • Zachary Quinto will be making an appearance on the third season of ‘Hannibal’ as a patient of Gillian Andersons character Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier. The series will return on June 4th 2015
  • Jada Pinkett Smith has told fans not to count on her return to the ‘Gotham’ series next season, as her one year contractual obligations are already fulfilled for the first season
  • Alec Baldwin will serve as both star and executive producer of an upcoming HBO drama where he will play the Mayor of New York City. It has been compared to “the lightest episode” of the Sopranos as well as a less “pitch black” version of ‘House of Cards’. Sign me up!

The Geekend Roundup is brought to you in cooperation with my friend and yours-Buddy Critic. Come check us out on Facebook and join our geeky little community!

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The Geekend Roundup: This Week in TV

Though this is not strictly television news, it is a huge blow to the entertainment industry and to lovers of pop culture. The beloved Leonard Nimoy has passed away at 83 years old due to end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Nimoy has been in the industry for decades, and although he is known best for his role as ‘Spock’-he is known just as well for his amazing, soothing, unforgettable voice. His dear friends and fans have taken to social media to honor his memory-and everyone from The Simpsons to William Shatner have incredibly touching things to say about him.

His friend George Takei said it quite well: “Today, the world lost a great man, and I lost a great friend. We return you now to the stars, Leonard. You taught us to “Live Long And Prosper,” and you indeed did, friend. I shall miss you in so many, many ways”

As you did, we will always remember to Live Long, and Prosper because of you. Rest in Peace.


Another tragic loss this past week in the television arts community was comedy writer Harris Wittels, who passed away of apparent drug overdose at the age of 30. The name may not be well known, but he was quite well known in the comedy world for his outlandish wit and brilliance, writing for shows like ‘The Sarah SIlverman Program’, ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ‘Eastbound and Down’. His face may be recognizable to fans of podcast and show ‘Comedy Bang Bang’. Friends like Sarah Silverman and Chelsea Peretti took to Twitter and Facebook to share their sadness and their stories, but no response was quite as touching as the lengthy letter composed by devoted friend Aziz Ansari. You can read the letter here.

Rest in Peace, Harris.


The minutes, days and weeks are creeping up until Game of Thrones starts up again. HBO has already given us one lengthy trailer that revealed just enough to get us drooling a little bit. This week, they revealed a pretty righteous (okay, amazing) poster and a couple of small character centered clips featuring Brienne of Tarth and the lovable bastard Jon Snuhhhh

hbo-george-r.-martin-game-of-thrones-season-5-tyrion-lannister-peter-dinklage-dragon

There has been a lot of speculation surrounding what this season is going to be like in comparison to their source materials, but the general consensus seems to be that they are steering away from the books overall. This isn’t good news to everyone, but as long as the show continues to deliver on shock value, boobs and quality storylines I don’t see their fan base straying off anytime soon.


In other April news, Netflix is debuting and streaming the entire first season of ‘Daredevil’ starting on April 10th. New clips and posters continue to merge, with the latest one being one of my personal favorites thusfar. There has been some controversy around how Charlie Cox’ Daredevil/Matt Murdock looks in the trailers, but this image seems to be quite close to what fans are expecting.

Daredevil Steven S. DeKnight Charlie Cox

Showrunner Steven S DeKnight says that the series will be “PG-16”-snuggling up to an R rating but not quite touching it. This is certainly welcome in the superhero universe-which is generally washed down to an age appropriate level-but it is very appropriate to this character. Charlie Cox said:

This is more sinister, and that really suits the character. The hero and the villain… it’s a very blurry line. Let’s say that you didn’t know anything about Daredevil, hopefully you would feel a sense of ambiguity about who’s on the right path here. And, well, you know… we have blood.


Sarah Chalke has signed on to star in Fox comedy “48 Hours Till Monday” opposite funnyman Rob Riggle, ‘3rd Rock From the Sun’ alumna Jane Curtin and Merrin Dungey. Chalke has been keeping busy since her ever scene stealing role as Dr Elliot Reed in ‘Scrubs’-lending her voice to underrated comedy ‘Rick and Morty’ as well as making cameos in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘Cougartown’ and a recurring role in ‘Backstrom’ opposite Rainn Wilson.


Marvels ‘Agent Carter’ has come to the end of its first-and potentially only-season, which means one thing: ‘Agents of Shield’ is BACK this coming Tuesday!

I started out as a skeptic of the show, because I felt that it started out rather weak, but AOS quickly picked up steam and won me over with its wit and its irresistible cliff hangers. Just to get our blood pumping a little bit harder for the coming mid season premiere they released a beautiful poster giving us a glimpse into the future of the show and its emerging lead character Skye-who has become entangled in the very core of the shows storyline. I cannot wait for Tuesday. WHAT HAVE THEY BECOME?

Something…inhuman?


On March 1st Fox debuts a new series starring Will Forte titled ‘Last Man on Earth’. Forte is…you guessed it, the last man on earth after a virus seemingly kills out the entire population. This isn’t your average post apocalyptic show, being brought to us by comedy power couple Chris Miller and Phil Lord. These guys have created some of the funniest TV and film of the past decade, from the short lived ‘Clone High’ animated series (also starring Forte), Brooklyn Nine Nine, ’21 Jump Street’, ’22 Jump Street’ and ‘The Lego Movie’. This group of guys working on a weekly series together is bound to be nothing short of comedy gold.

The Geekend Roundup is brought to you in cooperation with my friend and yours-Buddy Critic. Come check us out on Facebook and join our geeky little community!

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The Geekend Roundup: This Week in Movies and TV

Movies

Arguably the biggest piece of nerd news this week came from our friends at DC Entertainment. One big question has been floating around for the past few months: WHAT IS AQUAMAN GOING TO LOOK LIKE!?

Like a glorious, wet seaman.

Zach Snyder tweeted out this super macho, Drogo-esque photo of Jason Momoa, confirming that we are getting an Aquaman who is very Poseidon in nature and far less-shall we say-wimpy than anticipated. I am torn about the character design. A part of me is mesmerized with how badass the character design is, but another part of me was hoping for something a bit more reminiscent of comic book Aquaman. When a lot of people think about Aquaman-myself included-they automatically picture a Ken doll dressed in a brightly adorned wet suit, riding dolphins.

Hey, just like this!

Though there have been adaptations where he is bearded and Viking-like, I wouldn’t mind so much if they sprinkled in touches of “pretty boy” Aquaman-which all but went out the door when they cast the dark, burly Momoa. A little color in the suit and a bit more blonde in the hair would have been just enough to serve the loyal fan base who is likely to tear this kind of thing apart. In this instance, they seem to have made Aquaman look like Momoa, and not the other way around. Ultimately, I think that he looks awesome and I’m looking forward to seeing him in action.


JJ Abrams production company ‘Bad Robot’ has extended their existing deal with Paramount Pictures for another three years. The partnership has been ongoing since 2006 and has brought us such great films as ‘Super 8’, ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Trek: Into Darkness’ and the upcoming ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and ‘Mission Impossible V’. They are in talks to produce a film together about legendary inventor Thomas Edison.


Trailers out this week include: Kill Me Three Times, starring Simon Pegg and a beautiful handlebar moustache, Run All Night starring Liam Neeson (as an assassin. Surprise!) and Ed Harris, and a glorious TV spot for Pixar’s upcoming ‘Inside Out’


Casting Rumours and News:

  • Javier Bardem has signed on to star as the villain-Captain Salazar-in Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Men Tell No Lies
  • The cast of ‘Inferno’ based on the Dan Brown novel has been announced, and includes Tom Hanks-returning as lead Robert Langdon. He is joined by ‘Theory of Everything’ actress Felicity Jones, as well as Omar Sy, Irrfan Khan and Sidse Babett Knudsen
  • ‘Firefly’ and ‘Homeland’ actress Morena Baccarin has been cast of the “love interest” (huh?) in the Deadpool film. Though no cast has been announced for the role, Colossus has been confirmed to appear in the film as well

Television

Being a cable-less Canadian, I have unfortunately been deprived from seeing 95% of the clips from the SNL40 show that aired this past Sunday, aside from the amazing Celebrity Jeopardy return. Nonetheless, the turnout of talent was truly incredible. We saw the return of iconic characters such as Sean Connery, Wayne and Garth, Mary Katherine “SUPERSTAR!” Gallagher and Debbie Downer.

SNL themselves have flooded their Facebook and Instagram accounts with fantastic clips and backstage photos of the star studded cast and what they did. Listen to Ed Norton share his thoughts on his awesome sketch with the incomparable Bill Hader.


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