This Review Will #DEFEND You From Spoilers

So I expected at least a couple tons of quality after the excellent Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Didn’t-Finish-Because-I-Lost-Interest-Iron Fist seasons. Netflix and Marvel gave these characters and their version of New York City a level of care that is rare for most any TV series out there. Despite the similarities between them, each series has a distinct feel to it. I was honestly skeptical when it was announced that these 4 incredibly diverse characters would somehow be forced into unification for 1 season.

So is The Defenders worth the buildup? It really depends on what you were expecting from the show.

Cheese PocketsThis Review Will DEFEND You From Spoilers

There’s no doubt that Iron Fist’s storyline adds cheese-encrusted cheese to the The Defenders, but there isn’t really any option but to either fully embrace it or laugh at it as if it were some dare[devil]ing pun. The series decides that a mix of both is appropriate and I think the choice pays off explosively.

Jessica’s snarky quips about all the mystical elements in the show are hilarious and right in line with what you’d expect from her. The Defenders is able to keep sight of the gravity of the plot while still not taking itself too seriously. That being said, the supernatural influence in The Defenders is pretty heavy handed. As a sucker for all things fantasy, I ate it up like so many unclaimed carbs.

Did it work? Absolutely. I don’t eat junk food.

Good Chemistry or a Bad Math Equation?

This Review Will DEFEND You From Spoilers

Our 4 leads play off and against each other like I hoped they would. Teamwork is an unseemly trek through the mud, and these characters prove that. My favorite interactions are the ones that frequently take place between Jessica and Matt. Murdock sets himself up for some great lines from Jessica; they’re exactly what you’d expect from her character. It isn’t like he doesn’t hit back with his own wit either, he definitely does and it’s glorious.

The whole “dysfunctional team” trope is handled with oozing style. It makes sense, due to the differing motivations and personalities they each have. Luke isn’t going to trust some blind lawyer who decides he needs to cover his face when the other teammates have theirs exposed.  Jessica is going to prefer a drink to saving the world. And Iron Fist is the idealist who thinks a team of heroes is something the group can be.

He’s gotten a lot of hate from audiences, but I’d say Danny is actually quite likable in The Defenders and earns his spot on the team, even if he’s not pragmatic like the rest.

An Issue of CharacterThis Review Will DEFEND You From Spoilers

All the main characters have their own shortcomings and struggles that they bring along with them. This isn’t some idealistic “justice league” of super buddies where everyone loves each other through the power of friendship and pretty sunflowers. The protagonists don’t even like each other all that much, if at all.

Most of the supporting cast from each show make an appearance in The Defenders, even if their screen time isn’t remotely equal. It’s great to see the new dynamics sprout up due to the insane crossover that happens. It’s nice to know where characters like Foggy are in their lives and how they contribute to the overarching drama.

The villains are intense, although the show still suffers from the common “this group of expendable enemies gets knocked down like nothing because they’re not the boss” concept. There are some truly insane characters in this show and they all fit right into the world.

Should You Defend Against Watching The Defenders?

Watch the series. It may not be your glass of whiskey, but you’re sure to find plenty of entertainment from just the characters alone, even if you haven’t watched all the other shows. The cinematography is on point, music hits the right chord, and few moments go to waste in this exceptional series.

9.5 fingers out of 10

Logan Review

I’ve had about a week to let my thoughts on Logan percolate. Here they are.

(No spoilers in this review)

Darkening the Doorstep

Logan is centered around loss of many things, but it’s also undoubtedly about renewal as well. A renewal of relationships between characters and a renewal for the superhero movie genre. Don’t go into this movie expecting a fun time, cause you won’t get it. This film is tough to watch, and that’s not just due to the high level of violence. Logan deals with humanity on a level that no other superhero movie has done yet.

I wouldn’t even call Logan a superhero movie, although it’s unfortunately tied to the genre. There’s plenty of action and there’s a main villain, but I think those are just tropes that are being used to tell an incredible story of a human being who’s lost everything. Everything that happens in the film isn’t tossed in without some heavy thought.

This movie is dark, and although we’ve started to overuse that word, it still applies. This is the mature Wolverine movie that fans have been craving for years. Logan finally gets to use his claws like we’ve been hoping he would and drop those lovely words he loves using so much in the comics. I found this to be less convincing for Professor Xavier, who favored them just as much as Logan. Despite the heaviness of the film, there are plenty of hilarious moments sprinkled in. The amazing part is that these moments don’t disrupt the narrative flow of the movie. They feel natural, like they’re not written into the film as breaks from the gravity of the other parts.

A Child’s World

Logan deals with a world where children are just as much a part of the world as adults are. There are some gritty scenes involving children that will make you think about parallels between Logan’s world and ours and if we’re doing enough to protect our children. Adults’ actions don’t exist in a vacuum apart from what goes on in children’s lives.

This film isn’t preachy or overbearing in its content, it just tells a good story. There are a couple moments where it’s obvious people came up with the story; it’s kind of hard to escape that with the genre, but they feel real despite that. This movie is just really genuine all around, and I really appreciate that.

Act It Out

The acting in Logan is phenomenal, with both Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart putting their all into their roles. Dafne Keen, who plays Laura, does a great job for her age and given the stoic nature of her role. All the supporting actors aren’t left in the dust either, with strong performances from basically everyone.

Even so, this film is very much Logan’s movie. Hugh Jackman does the character a huge service in his last appearance as the character before he lets someone else take on the role.

I walked away from this film a bit of a changed person and I think that’s what all good films should strive for. It made me reevaluate some things about my life and the lives of those around me. When it comes down to it, I couldn’t ask for more in a film. Go and watch it, but but be prepared to walk away with a few scars of your own.

5/5 Stars

Album Review: Hourglass by Mako

I’ve realized lately that the best electronic music isn’t defined by the genre. I know it’s a broad genre, but people typically think of hard synths and generic vocals when they hear “electronic,” “dance,” or “EDM.” It really depends on how you define the genre and subgenres. I don’t think Hourglass by Mako is necessarily electronic, but I do think it is a great album with amazing songs.

“This is our story…”

Mako Hourglass

I’ll start out by mentioning my two favorite songs on the album. Oddly enough, they’re the opening and closing songs. “Let Go of the Wheel” is a giant song, and what I mean by that is that it fills up the room with its stunning sound. The chorus, with its booming synths, comes in beautifully after the delicate intro vocals. It’s mournful, and triumphant at the same time.

“Our Story (Hourglass Finale)” is a reworked version of “Our Story,” a single which Mako released a while back. I absolutely loved the original, but this version of the song is arguably better. Not only does it fit the album in a way the other song couldn’t, it’s almost like a brand new song while still maintaining the essence of the original. Its creamy vocals and dreamlike synths crescendo at the end with a percussion heavy finale. So good.

“Smoke Filled Room” and “Craziest Day I Ever Had” are two other standouts on Hourglass. “Craziest Day I Ever Had” is the funnest song on the album, cushioned between two soft, emotional tracks. “Run for Your Life feat. Natalola” is the only song on the album with a different lead vocalist. It’s a nice change of sound for the album and I actually would have liked one or two other songs featuring other vocalists.

My favorite part of this album is how easy it is to listen to the whole thing through. There are albums out there where I prefer to pick out songs and listen to them on their own. Hourglass is an album where the whole is even better than the parts. There are a few songs on this album that aren’t my favorites, but they’re great in the context of the whole album.

I think Mako absolutely nailed their debut with Hourglass. I’m going to be listening to this one for a while.

4.5/5

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

(No Spoilers)

I have many thoughts on the new Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; most ALL of them in the realm of positivity. That may be an overstatement, but honestly, this is the time for high praise; lots of it. I honestly didn’t expect this film to exceed my bated expectations in the way that it did. I’m still a little bit in shock at the experience that this film was for me. Definitely one of the highlights of 2016.

This is more of a rant than a review, so keep reading if that sounds intriguing to you.

Not Harry Potter

I think the biggest thing going for this film is that it doesn’t want to be Harry Potter. Beasts could have easily have been another more-of-the-same entry in the franchise and I would have taken it in eagerly; maybe too eagerly. Yes, the film uses familiar terms and name-dropped a few… “concepts” from the Harry Potter universe, and, yes, that’s why we all went to watch it, but Beasts is its own entity. That’s what was so amazing about this film. It knows where and what it comes from and maybe that’s only because J.K. Rowling wrote the script, but- well, that’s probably why. Even so, the whole film just feels original. At the whimsical core, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them bears the distinct mark of Rowling, but is still distinct.

Positively Genuine

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Can I just say “Thank you” to Rowling for writing a protagonist that isn’t a jerk? As much as I love the books and the universe, Harry Potter was kind of a total jerk faucet. I know he had a rough upbringing and all that (and that’s another topic) but well, read the parenthesis. Yeah. Let’s leave it at that. They’re both different characters anyway.

Newt is honestly one of the most likable protagonists I’ve come across in any medium. He was a gigantic gulp of fresh oxygen in a world of “whoa is me” and “my life sucks” protagonists that our world is littered with. Now those characters have their place and I’m not saying every character should be like Newt, but he felt… special (as cliche as it sounds).

But Wait, There’s More!

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I could say so much more about Beasts, but let’s jump into bullet-point-thoughts for time’s sake (or length’s. I don’t know how fast you read):

  • This movie was genuinely funny, and not in a “cheap laughs” kind of way.
  • Dialogue was spot on. “Just a smidge.”
  • Casting? Couldn’t have done it better myself. Actually, I would’ve had no idea what I was doing. Moving on-
  • As an artist, art direction pleased me very much. Oh, so very much. 10/10 would look at again. Bravo to the artists.
  • Characterization was out there in full force. Rowling knows her characters and how much they need to be developed without crowding the story.
  • Parts of the film were predictable, but it handled that fact really well.
  • Some may say the film was too long, but I felt it could have been even longer and I would’ve still enjoyed it. I think it was the right length when it comes down to it.
  • Where is my Netflix Original Series about Aurors?!

What’s Next?

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This franchise has a future that is beyond promising. I can’t wait for 2018, when the next entry is scheduled to be deliciously fed into our eye-sockets.Until then, back to the theater for another watch.

I’m not going to obligate you to watch the film, but…

Do it.