Tag Archives: adventure

Daredevil: Series Review

My apologies in advance as this is one of my longer blogs.

On Friday April 10th, the long awaited Marvel series, Daredevil, was exclusively released on Netflix. As with other Netflix original series such as Orange is the New Black, the online cinema mogul released all episodes of the first season simultaneously meaning viewers could binge watch all 13 episodes in one go. By Saturday April 11, 2015, I had finished the entire first season. And I already wish there was a second season to finish binge watching by April 12.

For those not in the know, the Daredevil series is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), meaning that it exists in the same fictional story universe as the Captain America, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Avengers franchises, and the network television shows Agents of Shield and Agent Carter.

Daredevil Dares to be Different

Despite being in the same fictional universe, Daredevil varies wildly both in tone and approach from the other Marvel franchises – most of all its’ TV siblings. Whereas Agents of Shield is very campy and at times even childish, Daredevil strikes a much more serious tone. Netflix original series don’t have FCC ratings, but if they did Daredevil would be inches shy of an R rating. Some of the bloody beat downs Daredevil lays on his enemies approaches a level of gratuitous violence usually reserved for villains.

Daredevil series is no stranger to bloody violence.

 

Agents of Shield makes regular – if not too many – references to the other series, or characters in the MCU. Daredevil on the other hand made very, very few. People dorkier than I may have caught some that I missed, but I only counted two Easter eggs in total. There were several mentions of the ‘attack on New York’ from 2012’s Avengers. The other was a comment about “an iron suit or a magic hammer”, alluding to Iron Man and Thor, though no names are ever used directly.

Daredevil is a dark show, but it steps out of Marvel’s shadow.

Plot and Setting

True to Marvel form – with the exception of Agent Carter – Daredevil take’s place in the chronological order in which it was released. It takes place in Marvel Phase 2, after Avengers and Winter Soldier, but before Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The show focuses on Matthew Murdock, an attorney turned vigilante who fights crime on his home turf of Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Few references are made to other Marvel characters but the jury is still out as to whether Captain America or Spiderman will ever cameo in the show, given that all three masked heroes hail from the city that never sleeps.

This isn’t just New York with it’s lights and skyscrapers. This show welcomes you to Hell’s Kitchen, an unforgiving and downtrodden part of the city where street thugs are the least of your problem. Corrupt cops, dirty politicians, and crime lords reign supreme. The city is dark, dirty, and gritty.

Hell’s Kitchen is one of the leading characters of the show.

 

The antagonist of the first season is one of Daredevil and Spidey’s arch nemesis – Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin played by Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket). Though not as physically intimidating as Michael Clarke Duncan in the 2003 feature film of the same name, D’Onofrio plays a frightening, cunning, brutal and resolute version Kingpin that keeps you on the edge of your seat, and dominates every scene he’s in. Oh, but he can still throw down and is not someone you’d want to meddle with in an alley.

Cast and Characters

The show focuses as much on Matthew Murdock (Charlie Cox) as it does on the Daredevil, which makes for some very interesting story telling and character development. What’s most interesting about the show is Murdock’s history. He has a back story that make’s Bruce Wayne’s sound almost pleasant by comparison.

As a child, Matt’s mom left him and his dad as they scraped to get by. His dad was a professional boxer – but not a very good one – and would come home bloodied and beaten on a regular basis, to which young Matt had to stich him up. Matt was later blinded in an accident which left him traumatized as he struggled with walking, reading, and adjusting to everyday life. Shortly thereafter his father was murdered after a fixed boxing match went south. Now Matt was not only an orphan, but a poor blind orphan living in the government system.

The fight that would indirectly take the life of Matt Murdock’s father.

 

There was no trust fund, no Alfred, no Wayne Manor, no multinational corporation to fall back on. Matt Murdock had nothing but his will and his wit – and pulled himself from the gutter with amazing tenacity.

As awe inspiring as his story may be, you forget just how fear inspiring Murdock can be when donning his mask. He’s no chump. He’s quiet, watchful, brooding, and very dangerous. The show does a fantastic job of making Matt look like a normal (albeit blind) guy in the day, while surrounding him with an air of mystique and dread at night.

Foggy Nelson and Karen Paige.

 

Murdock has the benefit of some strong supporting characters Karen Page played by Deborah Ann Woll (Trueblood) and best friend Foggy Nelson played by Elden Henson (Butterfly Effect). Woll and Henson offer amazing performances making their characters that much more interesting, and the story that much more believable. Thank the heavens Hollywood has taken us out of the age of the useless sidekick. Karen and Foggy are loyal friends, and although they aren’t MMA fighters, they should not be easily dismissed.

Rosario Dawson does a great job playing Claire Temple, also known as the Night Nurse in the comics. Unfortunately, she was relegated to just 2 episodes out of the entire 13 episode season. I hope to see more of her in Season 2, or in the other Marvel Netflix series coming out soon.

Claire Temple / Night Nurse patching up Daredevil after a bout in the concrete jungle.

 

Overview

There is a ton of action and violence, but it does a good job at not crossing the line into cheesy. The characters are very real, and very vulnerable both emotionally and physically. On many occasions Murdock gets himself into a situation where this time feels like it’s going to be the last time. He might crawl his way out of a tough spot, but the show makes sure that he has to claw and scratch for every inch. There is no cavalry, no backup, no lucky breaks. Nothing comes easy, which makes the show that much more suspenseful and dramatic.

No easy day for Daredevil.

 

The settings are real. The acting and character portrayal is believable. The drama is relatable. The action is grounded. The show doesn’t gloss over any detail, grand or minute. Most importantly the show is honest.

My Take

15 minutes into the pilot episode I knew this show was right up my Hell’s Kitchen alley. I thought it would be good, but I didn’t think it would be this good. If you’ve read any of my reviews, you know that when it comes to my taste, the grittier the better.

Daredevil exists in the MCU, but it could very well exist in the same world as Sons of Anarchy or Law and Order – two other shows I enjoyed. This show stands on its’ own two feet, and doesn’t need to use the rest of the Marvel universe as a crutch. Fans who haven’t seen all the other movies or shows can appreciate being able to dive into a new show without being totally lost. I will without a doubt be watching and highly anticipating season 2 of Daredevil when it comes out. If you want a Disney quality TV show without the Disney movie rating, then this show is for you. I love the action, I love the violence, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I give this show a 9 out 10.

Guradians of the Galaxy: Movie Review

Guardians was one of my most anticipated movies EVER, so it goes without saying that this has also been one of my most anticipated movie reviews. The drive home after the movies on Friday night had me all amped and excited, as I endlessly regaled my favorite quotes and characters from the film.

It’s important that I start my review by making something very clear, Guardians of the Galaxy absolutely kicked ass. Sorry, I just had to get that off my chest. But seriously, it was an amazing movie and so entertaining I don’t even know where to begin my review.

Marvel wasted no time at all jumping into the movie. There was a super brief yet emotional “origin story” at the beginning where you get a little history about movie front runner Peter Quill, AKA Star Lord. After that the movie is a non-stop sprint to the finish line.

10 minutes into the movie I was sold. The opening scene from the trailers with Chris Pratt and Djimon Hounsou was hilarious, action packed, an 80’s flash back, and probably had PETA shitting bricks.

Marvel managed to do in one film with Guardians, what it took them 6 movies to do with the Avengers ensemble. Guardians Director James Gunn did a phenomenal job getting audiences to fall in love with and root for a bunch of characters they had never even heard of before, in the span of just two hours without it feeling rushed.

Whereas 2012’s Avengers could have plausibly been titled “IRON MAN! …and his friends too”, Guardians does a much better job balancing the roles so that no character drowns out the other.

Peter Quill, AKA Star Lord
Peter Quill, AKA Star Lord, played by Chris Pratt

We have Peter Quill, AKA Star Lord. An 80’s American born kid who was abducted by aliens and spends the rest of his life wandering the galaxy as a thief. His only remaining earthly possessions are a Sony Walkman (remember those?) and a mix tape (or those?!) of songs his mom made him. Those songs, artfully chosen, provide the soundtrack for the entire movie. Quill clearly mastered the American art of bull-shitting, which proves to be an invaluable skillset in outer space. Chris Pratt did an amazing job bringing this no-name character to life on the big screen. In fact he did such a good job that he out Iron Man’s Iron Man, and when the Avengers and Guardians finally collide in theaters, Peter Quill is going to be more than a match for Tony Stark. Audiences will find him much more likable too as his character is so humble and down-to-earth.

Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana
Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana

Next we have the femme fatale Gamora. Zoe Saldana loves to play aqua-colored vixens, but she plays them amazingly well! Gamora is an assassin turned good, whose inside knowledge of the threats to the universe make her a pivotal character in movie. Her backstory is bloody and regrettable. She is fierce, cunning, beautiful, and incredibly lethal. She is this ensembles direct response to Black Widow.

Drax the Destroyer, played by David Bautista
Drax the Destroyer, played by David Bautista

Then we have Drax the Destroyer, another aqua colored badass in the film and played by David Bautista. This physically intimidating character is on a vengeful killing rampage across the galaxy after his family was killed by movie villain Ronan the Accuser. He comes from a race of aliens whose language and communication style does not lend itself to metaphor, idioms, or innuendo. Most jokes go right over his head, but as Drax would correct you “Nothing goes over my head! My reflexes are too fast. I will seize it.” Huge, green-ish, and not a big talker, Drax is the Guardian’s equivalent of the Hulk.

Rocket Raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper, and Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel
Rocket Raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper, and Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel

Where do I even start with Rocket? Put frankly, Rocket is foul-mouthed, bi-pedal, incredibly intelligent raccoon that has no clue he’s a raccoon, or for that matter what a raccoon even is. He was experimented on and genetically altered, making him the way he is. Perfectly voiced by Bradley Cooper, he’s rude, insensitive, and had me dying of laughter the entire movie. His backstory is also very tragic, making that a common theme amongst the movies characters. Underneath his insecurities, Rocket the bounty hunting critter has a ton of heart, and is my favorite character in the movie.

Lastly, we have Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel. Groot, the walking and occasionally talking tree alien was one of my favorites. He is Rocket’s body guard and companion as a bounty hunter. Despite his very limited vocabulary, Groot proves that when it comes to communication, it’s all about quality, not quantity. If you asked me to explain exactly why Groot is so cool and invaluable to the movie, I couldn’t give you an answer. But I promise you he is. (My mom asserts it’s because Groot’s limited vocabulary reminds me of my dad. Hardy har har, mom.) Groot isn’t chatty, fast, or oozing with intelligence, but he is emotional, caring, and extremely protective. Groot is also the dessert of the movie, and Marvel saved the best for last. You’ll have to see the movie to know what I’m talking about.

I was laughing, I was cheering, I was screaming, and I was clapping. The crowd in my theater clapped on four occasions throughout the movie. If this movie doesn’t have you rooting for the good guys, you have no heart. If it doesn’t have you dancing to the Jackson 5, you have no soul. And if it doesn’t have you cramping from laughter, you have no sense of humor. Bring the wife, bring the kids, and hope they don’t learn any new words. This action packed, star spanning movie breathes new life into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and will have you begging for more. Avengers, look out! Here come the Guardians of the Galaxy!

Was it enjoyable? YES! I’ll just come out and say that Guardians of the Galaxy was twice as good as the Avengers. It had more action that action movies, more adventure than adventure movies, and way more laughs than dedicated comedies. On top of that, the movie had one thing Avengers sorely lacked: Heart. For enjoyability, I give Guardians of the Galaxy an A+.

Did it deliver what it advertised? Yes and much, much more. I was expecting a B movie with a Disney financed A movie advertising budget. I was quickly corrected. This movie is the movie you’ve been waiting for. A+.

Would I see it again? I plan on seeing Guardians at least once more in theaters and have every intention of purchasing the Blu Ray when it comes out on release, hopefully by Christmas.