Regarding the First Five Episodes of Iron Fist

I got really nervous a few weeks ago because the critics were slamming Iron Fist.  Generally speaking, they accused the first six episodes of lacking direction, excitement, or any real sense of danger.

Fortunately, I decided to watch it anyway.  I’m here to tell you – in regards to the first five episodes, the critics got it wrong.

Let’s be honest, though, all of the Netflix Marvel shows have minor flaws.  Generally speaking, they are very good.  But, most have pacing issues.  It’s my opinion that all of them last three to five episodes too long.

Though Iron Fist is not as socially relevant as Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, or Daredevil, it’s still a lot of fun.  Danny Rand (Iron Fist) is not especially tortured, the show takes place so far mostly during the daylight hours, and the plot is pretty straightforward.

I won’t say Finn Jones, who plays Danny Rand/Iron Fist, is the world’s greatest actor, but he definitely wields a charm as the title character that is pretty magnetic.  He tends to deliver his lines with the same cadence and inflection no matter what he says, but I can’t tell if that’s signifying his inner peace or if it’s just bad acting.  I’m guessing it’s the former.  I think it’s interesting that Jones plays Rand rather boyish in a lot of ways.  He dresses like a grown up ten-year-old, and he intermittently tosses out a quick “awesome” or “cool” just as a child would.  Of course, this makes sense considering the character’s circumstances.  However, when it comes time for the action, Jones appears more than capable.  I believe at those moments that he is the Iron Fist.

Jessica Henwick’s Colleen Wing is definitely stealing the show.  Her subplot feels totally organic to Rand’s and she is just all kinds of cool.  So far, nothing about her (or the show) feels forced.  This is a good thing.  She just gets better and better with each episode.

Joy and Ward Meachum, the brother and sister duo running Danny’s father’s company, at first really annoyed me.  I won’t say much about them, but both have grown on me quite a bit.  They are far more complicated than I initially expected.  They are also far more sympathetic than I originally suspected.

That’s all I want to say for now because I don’t want to spoil anything for you.  Though you don’t have to watch the other Netflix Marvel shows to get on board Iron Fist, there are plenty of nuggets to enjoy if you’ve been watching them all.

The critics seem to have it wrong in this case.  Iron Fist has interesting characters, a decent plot, lots of great action, actors that play well off of each other, and two very charismatic performances by Finn Jones and Jessica Henwick.

I’m sure there will be a lull before too long, because that just tends to happen with these shows, but so far I have no complaints.  If you’ve been on the fence with Iron Fist, I recommend you give it a try!

Image result for iron fist netflix poster

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Sense8 – A Few Thoughts

A while back I vowed to watch everything the Wachowskis released.  While I love the Wachowskis’ vision and cinematography, their stories and dialogue are often challenged.  I hoped with a twelve episode series like Sense8, and with the help of writer J. Michael Straczynski, they would have enough time to really let their story unfold.

Sense8 is the epic adventure of eight people from around the globe who suddenly and unexpectedly become telepathically linked.  Sometimes they can purposefully link up with another, but more often than not it happens without warning or during moments of great duress.  The rules are a little fuzzy.  Sometimes they are simply there for only their fellow member to see, but other times they can actually take over the body of their partner.

Most of this first season delves into each characters’ personal story line and each one of the eight characters is very charismatic.  I never got bored with a single one of them.  They span the planet, and they are all dealing with complex story lines that are interesting to follow.  The series shines when it focuses on the personal stories, and it is very cool when they pop into another’s life in order to lend a hand.  Unfortunately, the overarching story, the plot somehow binding them all together, is less clear.  I assume that much will be revealed in subsequent seasons, but things felt a bit forced when the clandestine evil entity intent upon imprisoning them all came into play.

The Wachowskis excel at the visual.  They claim that each character’s story was shot in that character’s home environment, so we have beautiful locations such as Kenya, Iceland, India, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, Chicago, London, and San Francisco.  The scenery is breathtaking.  Frankly, this is a beautiful series to watch.

However, be aware that the Wachowskis strive to include characters that represent our real world.  Therefore we have heterosexual characters, homosexual characters, and transgender characters.  As a result, we have sometimes explicit sex scenes of all orientations.  You want to make sure the kids are in bed for this one.

And while each character’s plight is interesting, the old Wachowski issue of dialogue arises.  At times each character seems to have majored in philosophy.  Every single one of them delivers a lengthy speech at some point, and there were many, many moments when I expected each speech to end with “and that’s one to grow on.”

Sense8 is a beautiful, interesting first season with exquisite locations, likable characters, plenty of action, and a fascinating premise.  Though not perfect due to unnatural dialogue and far too many “deep” speeches, I am excited to see where the second season takes our cast of eight.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

My wife and I subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, and they started talking up the prequel to Wet Hot American Summer some time ago.  As avid Netflix viewers, we figured, “Why not?”  Of course, because the show would be the first day of camp, we realized we should probably watch the original movie from 2001 that focused upon the last day of camp.

We just finished the Netflix series last night, and it is hilarious, unpredictable, and original – almost the opposite of the 2001 movie in every way.  Don’t get me wrong, 2001’s Wet Hot American Summer had it’s moments, but it felt more like  a series of poorly planned Saturday Night Live skits than a cohesive comedy film.  Of course, extremely talented people participated in the film from so many years ago, and several of them are now legitimate stars.  The Netflix series spotlights not only the raw talent they utilized in the past, but it also celebrates a mastery they’ve achieved.  I don’t know if Elizabeth Banks, Janeane Gorafalo, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Michael Ian Black, Bradley Cooper, Chistopher Meloni, or Molly Shannon have never been better!

Yes, the series is ridiculous and over the top, but it feels so much more purposeful and crafted now.  Jokes were planted in the first episode that finally came to fruition in the last.  Unlike the original movie, the series always made me feel like it was actually headed somewhere.

Do you need to watch the original movie to enjoy the series?  Yes, frankly, you do.  There is so much from the movie that the series hinges upon.  They took silly throw-away moments from the film and centered the series’ plot around them.  It really is not only funny, but also so very impressive.  The best part is that this is only the first day of camp.  They have the potential to keep coming back for the second, the third, and so on.  If they can manage to keep the core group intact while bringing in talent like John Hamm, Lake Bell, Jordan Peele, Jason Schwartzman, Kristen Wiig, John Slattery, Chris Pine, and Michael Cera, you can certainly count us in.

About Arrested Development Season 4

My wife and I loved Arrested Development when it aired on Fox.  Sure, it took some getting used to, but we came to adore its weird, quirky stories with such flawed, lovably dysfunctional characters.  From week to week, I’d have a new favorite Bluth, which says a lot about the show’s magic.

When we heard it was coming to Netflix to continue with a fourth season, we were elated.  Unfortunately, I’m enormously cheap and refused to open a Netflix account when we already paid for cable and Amazon Prime.  I guess my love for Arrested Development was a conditional one.

However, we recently picked it up on DVD, and though it took a few episodes to get back in the swing of things, it once again won us over and proved itself a worthy addition.

In fact, I would argue it’s the most ambitious season yet in terms of pure story execution.  If you haven’t seen it, the fourth season basically occurs over a few days.  However, each episode focuses upon one character and their perspective pertaining to the overall story.  At first it’s very confusing, to be sure, but as the episodes unfold, the audience begins to realize what’s happening.  I can’t imagine the editing process for this season, but I’m sure it was a herculean task!  Each character has a subplot, yet they all intertwine with one another.

I wouldn’t say it’s the funniest season, but it’s certainly funny and highly entertaining.  A lot of the jokes were standbys from previous seasons, but still executed creatively.  I especially enjoyed the “meta” commentary throughout.

The final episode took me aback though, because it felt a little anticlimactic and ended abruptly.  However, that could very well be by design.  After all, this news arrived just today.