Jessica Jones: Season 2 – A Netflix Review

I really enjoyed the first season of Jessica Jones.  The series had such a strong concept.  It definitely wasn’t a super hero show, yet it featured a character with super human strength … who didn’t necessarily want her powers.  She mostly just wanted to be left alone.  The series felt far more like a thriller than an action-adventure.  With David Tenant’s Kilgrave, the series also struck a deeply disturbing psychological note.  Krysten Ritter’s Jones wanted to forget about her past by drinking herself silly, wasn’t interested in being nice, and certainly wasn’t out to save the day.  I believe, overall, it may be the strongest of Netflix’s Marvel series due to excellent pacing, interesting characterization, a consistent tone, and a cohesive plot.

So, as you have probably guessed, I very much looked forward to the second season.  Unfortunately, I knew by the first episode that this season would be different.

At the risk of sounding too harsh, all thirteen episodes of season two disappointed me.

Jessica Jones: Season Two is cliched, boring, and a disservice to the first season.

I don’t want to spoil too much, but Jessica Jones herself has gone from being charmingly cranky to just annoying.  The huffs, the sighs, the eye rolls, the monotone vocal delivery — she’s become one-dimensional.  All of those things seemed appropriate in the first season.  Combine those things with the second season’s primary antagonist and she’s comes off as, well … a brat.

And that pretty much describes everyone in the second season.  Trish Walker, who was pretty interesting in the first season, is now a shadow of her former self and incredibly unlikable.  Malcom is all over the place — a doormat one minute, a boy toy the next, and then a ruthless businessman?  Wasn’t that Foggy’s character arc?  Hogarth, the heartless lawyer, actually turns out to be the most sympathetic of all, but in doing so utterly contradicts every other previous appearance of the character.  Luke Cage makes no appearance at all, which is a shame because Colter and Ritter had great chemistry and made season one very enjoyable.  Kilgrave appears for five minutes, and those five minutes were a delight.  Ritter and Tennant are amazing on screen together, which is partly why season one succeeded so well.

Season two lacks any plot in which the audience can invest.  Season one featured a real mystery and characters that were truly opposite of Jones that allowed her to shine all the more.  In season two, everyone is kind of like Jones, which is, frankly, depressing.  Everyone is damaged goods.  There is no character representing hope, or nobility, or morality.  When Jones is forced to be these things, it doesn’t work.  She’s not especially hopeful, or noble, or moral.  She’s fun when she gets to be the “bad cop” working off of others serving as her foil.  It’s not fun when an entire show drowns in hopelessness, immorality, and dreariness.

The show also falls prey to the worse of the genre’s cliches.  Unresolved family issues that create arrested development — check.  Evil version of protagonist with the same basic power set — check.  Clandestine corporate entity that creates protagonist and antagonist for murky reasons at best — check.  Misjudgment of audience’s interest in “origin story” — check.  Mommy issues — check.

In my opinion, the first season of Jessica Jones may be the best of all the Netflix Marvel shows.  The second season, unquestionably, is the worst.

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(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

 

Altered Carbon – A Netflix Series Review

Based on a book, Altered Carbon is a Netflix series set in the distant future where people have the ability to store their personality and memories in a disk at the back base of their neck.  If their body dies, they can have their disk inserted into a new body, thus allowing someone to effectively live forever.  If they have enough money, that is.

Altered Carbon is a fascinating concept.  It’s part hard-boiled mystery, part techno thriller, part philosophical exploration, part social commentary, and part action extravaganza … but it’s not really completely anything.

Well, that’s not entirely true.  I watched it purely for the eye-popping special effects.  In my opinion, this show utilizes some cutting-edge techniques that I haven’t seen before.  In that regard, it’s a raging success.

But, let’s face it — the dialogue is really, really bad.  I know some will say the show endeavored to achieve a pulp noir quality, but I find that to be a poor excuse for lazy writing.  Couple the lackluster dialogue with actors of only adequate talent and you have some difficult scenes to endure.  I know that sounds mean, and I’m very sorry to all of the actors and writers.  I don’t want to offend, but I also want to write an objective review.

Of course, the negative qualities mentioned is the trade-off for exquisite special effects.  As much as Netflix seems willing to spend, even they must have limits.  It’s obvious their budget went toward the special effects, not necessarily the actors.  Don’t get be wrong–the actors are fine.  They are good.  Just … none of them are great.

Should you watch this series?  If you’re into science fiction and special effects, I’d give it a shot.  It never quite finds its voice, nor does it really gain solid traction in terms of story, but it comes close enough on both counts to remain an interesting watch.  Again, at the risk of becoming redundant, the special effects are mesmerizing.  Beware, though, there is some heavy nudity in almost each of the ten episodes and the violence is pretty graphic from time to time.

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(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Batman: The Dark Knight–Master Race by Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, and Andy Kubert – A Book Review

Redemption.

That’s the word I would use to describe Batman: The Dark Knight–Master Race.

I mean this both literally and thematically.

From a literal standpoint, Master Race undoes the travesty of Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again.  Of course, these are both sequels to the seminal Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

Master Race is the first Batman book I’ve read in quite a while that kept me turning the pages.  When I had to put it down, I couldn’t wait to pick it back up.

Some say that The Dark Knight Returns helped to usher in the Dark Age of comics.  It played a role in taking Batman back to his dark roots, establishing a general psychosis to the character, and promoting the idea that Batman and Superman would be anything but super friends.  It’s impact can be felt even to this day.

The Dark Knight Strikes Again was just a hot mess.  I haven’t read it in a long time, but I remember feeling that it had nothing in common with its predecessor and seemed intent on being as crazy as possible even at the sacrifice of plot, character, good taste, and logic.

Master Race takes the best aspects of both books, blends them together, and churns out an incredibly satisfying read.  Carrie Kelley, the young girl who took on Robin’s mantle back in The Dark Knight Returns, is front and center in this book.  The Dark Knight Strikes Again brought Superman’s daughter Lara into the fold, as well as Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkboy and Hawkgirl, Atom–all of whom reappear in Master Race.  This time, though, they are treated with depth and care.  In fact, some would say they are all actually redeemed.

There’s that word again.

Master Race redeems every single character in its pages.  They each go through a personal journey, and they each come out better for it.  I don’t want to get into the particulars due to revealing too much plot, but this book made me look at these characters as heroes again.  Redemption strikes me as a theme of the book.

Which is probably the most ironic thing ever.

Master Race also, in my eyes, redeems Frank Miller.  Frank Miller is a gifted writer and artist–he proved that on books like The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil, Batman: Year One, and the first Wolverine miniseries.  Unfortunately, his work on The Dark Knight Strikes Again made me question both his talent and character.  That book seemed like a total cash grab.  It almost acted like it wanted to make a point to the reader–that the comic fan will buy anything if there’s enough hype surrounding it.  It definitely turned me off from Miller for a while.

So why did I return for Master Race?  Brian Azzarello.  I’ll read anything that man writes.  I knew that if he played a hand in Master Race, it would be worth my time to check it out.  I’m so glad I did.  I have no idea as to the politics of Azzarello teaming up with Miller, but if DC made it happen to ease fan apprehension, it worked like a charm on me.

It’s so ironic that two men who are known for grim and gritty, hard-boiled writing provided one of the most inspiring Batman stories that I’ve ever read.  As much as The Dark Knight Returns created a Dark Age, I could see Master Race igniting a Heroic Age.  It truly counteracted all of the negativity surrounding our society at the moment.

Maybe you’ll agree with me, maybe you won’t, but I definitely recommend you read Batman: The Dark Knight–Master Race and see for yourself.

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(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

Regarding the Moms Demand Action First Meeting In Normal, IL

I’m tired of the senseless killing of our school children.  It baffles me that the greatest nation on the planet can’t seem to put our country’s children first.  I simply can’t accept the tired phrase, “Well, there’s nothing we can do — it’s part of life.”  It’s not part of life.  I have two small children.  I teach hundreds of students every year.  Every single young person’s life is precious and should be protected.  We, as Americans, must demand the safety of our children.

If you’re like me, I want to take action, but outside of my own blog I don’t know what steps to take.  A friend told me about Moms Demand Action, a nationwide group striving for common sense gun laws in America.  As it happened, they planned to start a chapter in Bloomington-Normal and March 4th marked the date of their first meeting.

To be honest, I’m always leery of activist groups.  Like with politicians, funding often puts them in precarious positions and influences their allegiances.  I wasn’t willing to commit myself to Moms Demand Action without first learning more about them.

However, because I wanted to take action and knew of many others in a similar mindset, I contacted everyone whom I thought might be interested.  Of course, I made it very clear I was not yet affiliated with Moms Demand Action and didn’t know their political stance.  For me, it would purely be a reconnaissance mission.

First of all, I’ll say this: I liked what Moms Demand Action had to say.  I liked the group and I’m willing to hear more of what they have to say.  I also appreciate that you do not have to be a mom to join this organization.  You can be a dad, concerned citizen — whatever.

Some things, though, did give me pause.

I’d first like to discuss those things that sat well with me, and then I’d like to mention a few things that alarmed me.

Pros

*They are very well-organized: I desperately wanted direction on what to do, who to talk to, and how to go about doing both.  Moms Demand Action seem to know how to contact politicians, how to plan events, how to collect data, how to fund their cause, how to influence government officials, how to recruit … essentially how to get things done at both a state and federal level.

*They are focused: Moms Demand Action focus on achieving four things …

  1. Close loopholes in background check systems that allow felons and domestic abusers easy access to guns.
  2. Support reasonable limits on where, when, and how loaded guns are carried and used in public.
  3. Promote gun safety so that American children are no longer exposed to an unacceptable level of risk.
  4. Mobilize popular support for policies that respect Second Amendment rights and protect people.

I like that they know their goals and appear to know how to achieve them.

*They are bi-partisan:  This was the biggest issue for me.  I didn’t want to join a political campaign for a republican, democrat, or any other politician.  They said from the outset that they are bi-partisan.  They told us they are comprised of both parties.  The group today definitely seemed to lean left, but I felt reassured that they made a point to let everyone know they are not party specific.

*They welcome gun owners: Stick with me here.  They were very candid about wanting more gun owners in their organization.  They are glad to have responsible, knowledgeable gun owners who can’t stand the thought of a child dying by the misuse of a firearm.  This group is all about common sense gun laws, promoting gun safety, and educating the public about how to keep guns away from children.

*They do NOT want to take away your Second Amendment: They recognize the importance of the Second Amendment to a large portion of our nation and they in no way, shape or form want to ban it, dissolve it, or otherwise alter it.  They just want to make things more secure through better laws, better safety measures, and better education.

I won’t lie, though, a few things concerned me about the meeting today …

Cons

*They are extremely diplomatic: Though this is a bi-partisan group, everything felt very politically correct.  I understand why — they want to keep all lines of communication open with everyone of political influence.  Make no mistake, their four goals are plainly stated and they do not back down from those goals.  However, they definitely struck me as a group who wants to play it safe.  This is probably a good decision.  I’m sure they can achieve far more by being smart, reserved, rationale, and purposeful.  I think many of us in the room felt so much anger about the numerous mass shootings over the last twenty years that that we expected a little more … righteous fury.  Of course, the speaker at the event has been at this for many years — she knows what methods work best.  She had passion; she struck me as emotionally invested, but she also seemed fully in control, calm, and even good-humored.

*They are not willing to publicly call for a ban on assault weapons:  I totally understand their thought process behind this.  They realize that, by and large, handguns kill far more people daily than assault weapons.  Their focus is on gun violence in general.  Nonetheless, it troubled me that they would not, as a group, publicly denounce our nation’s casual use of military-grade assault weapons.  To the spokesperson’s credit, she fully recognized that their unwillingness to call for a ban turns some prospective members off.  They understand that some people want a more radical stance and she acknowledged that Moms Demand Action may not be the group for those people.

Like I said earlier, overall, I liked what Moms Demand Action had to say.  I like the steps they’ve already taken and I like that they know how to get things done.  They not only demand action, their actions garner results.  I plan to attend their next meeting and learn more.

If interested, here are some steps you can take …

*Click HERE to learn more about the origins of Moms Demand Action

*Click HERE to sign a petition for Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner to sign gun dealer licensing into law

*Click HERE to learn about Educators Demand Action

*Plan to attend the next Bloomington-Normal Moms Demand Action meeting at 7:00 p.m. on April 9th in the Normal Public Library

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Excited For the Oscars? Read “A Man Out Of Time” – A Hilarious Oscars Short Story

A Man Out Of Time by [Foley, Scott William]

Click “Kindle” To Download

Click “Nook” To Download

Mateo Sandoval has waited since 1946 to win Best Actor. At his age, it’s now or never. We all know crazy things can happen at the Oscars, but no one expected this! Click on the above links to read on your Kindle or Nook today! (Humor)