11 April 2015

TV Series: Daredevil (2015-)

TV Series: Daredevil (technically Netflix series, but, you know)

Netflix's (and Marvel's) "Daredevil" series.
Wow. Wowwowwow I'm only 1/3 way through and loving it.

Set in the same Marvel Universe as the Iron Man/Captain America/Thor/Hulk/Avengers/Guardians of the Galaxy/Agents of SHIELD.  If you've really enjoyed those movies/TV this easily falls in the "must see" category.
If you are watching and loving "Arrow" or "The Flash" or "Gotham", even though they are only genre-related  and not Marvel Universe, this series is a must-see.
It's violent. Oh my gosh is it violent. "You'd never see half the violence in this show on TV" violent. Yes, broadcast TV has violence, but they also have limits to how much they can show and durations and stuff per episode. This show doesn't.
Also - as it's a Marvel show, it's also an ABC Television Productions show. Probably lands in the "Disney/ABC is begrudgingly associated with the show only because they own Marvel" category of violence. I'm trying to say it's violent.

Good cast. Heck, great cast. Haven't noticed any actors annoyingly chewing scenery yet.  Not on the level achieved by Jada Pinkett Smith's 'Fish' in "Gotham", who stunk out in contrast with the whole rest of the "Gotham" cast. In fairness to JPS she's toned Fish down considerably since the early episodes and served up Fish well. But I digress.
Production values are noticeably TV-budget level and not cinematic, but that doesn't hinder the show. The fight scenes are well choreographed. The set dressers are paying attention to detail, even going as far as putting clipped-out-newspaper stories on the background walls that refer to the battle in New York that happened in "The Avengers".
Good storytelling. They don't spend the whole first episode bludgeoning you with Daredevil backstory. They've gone the route "Arrow" took - just a bit, fill in a little more each episode. And they take time to fill out backstories with the major supporting characters too. I think Foggy is probably most neglected at this point (1/3 way through), his connection with Murdock has been more subtly introduced in to the story than the others, to the point that clues in background set dressing making their association a little deeper than what has been spoken aloud.

Leaps and bounds better than the 2003 "Daredevil" film, even by the end of the first episode.  Granted the TV serial format gives them more time to play the story lines out, but by the end of the first episode I was ready for more.
I've already had the thought if they were to make a Batman TV series this is how it should be done. But Daredevil did it first. Well, actually Arrow did, and other series have used the same storytelling format, but damn if Daredevil isn't Batman right now in this series.  And without all the existential torture that "Arrow" puts us through. Well, not yet anyhow.

Noticed in common: a certain executive producer of "Spartacus" series is executive producing this project. Who also happens to have worked with Whedon on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."  So, at this point, if it weren't for "Buffy" there's a good chance the Marvel Universe wouldn't be so awesome right now.
If'n ya liked a certain henchman-in-a-box from "Boardwalk Empire", he's Matt Murdock.
If'n ya liked a certain young redheaded vampire-ette from "True Blood", she's in there.
If'n ya like you some Vincent D'Onofrio (W. Fisk/Kingpin) or some Rosario Dawson, they're in there.

You have Netflix? Like the comic-based stuff coming out of Marvel and DC lately? Then you must watch "Daredevil" - it's worth it.

Finished it on Sunday (it came out Friday). Amazing. Hungry for more. I don't binge-watch often, but couldn't help but keep returning to the series and neglecting other stuff I have piling up on the DVR. Now that it's over I suppose I could go back to the DVR stuff. But damn I'm already missing watching Daredevil.

20 July 2013

Movies: Dead Man Down

Dead Man Down (2013) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2101341/

Victor, an enforcer for a crime lord, is blackmailed by Beatrice, the woman who lives across from him in the highrise. Beatrice watched, and recorded on video, as Victor murdered someone in his apartment. She meets him under the guise of dating, then drops her real motivations on him. She wants revenge on the drunk driver that hit her and ruined her face and life.
As the story unfolds you find out more about Victor's life and why he works for who he does, and how he handles Beatrice's quest for vengeance.

Stars Colin Farrell as Victor, Noomi Rapace as Beatrice.
Farrell, a solid performer, has been in many films over the years and should be a household name by now. Rapace, recently in "Prometheus", was Lisbeth in the original (and better) "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" series films.  Which reminds me I should update that review to include the remake.

Decent thriller film with some action. Once you see the stories unfold you'll realize they aren't especially new, almost cliche at this point. So I have to look past that. I found the performances to be as good as expected considering the cast, the production values were as expected for a bigger budget film, the story was coherent, nothing seemed shoehorned in or pasted on or added frivolously.

Pretty much a well done drama with light action and a hint at romance for those who enjoy some love-story in with their drama/action thrillers.  Not especially groundbreaking or memorable, but not a bad choice for something to watch either.

Movies: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1428538/

We all know the fairy tale of Hansel & Gretel, abandoned in the woods, gingerbread house, witch, oven, etc. This film follows Hansel & Gretel as adults. They are professional witch hunters now.

Stars Jeremy Renner as Hansel and Gemma Arterton as Gretel. Renner has been in quite a few films these past years, including the newest Borne installment, the Avengers, etc. Arterton I remember most from her role in "The Disappearance of Alice Creed", however she's done fine in Clash of the Titans and Prince of Persia, After her "Alice Creed" roles the latter two seem a waste of her talent, but then again she's gotta be seen to get work. Oh wow - just saw she was in Quantum of Solace. Don't remember offhand seeing her in that, but it's been a while since I've watched it.
A couple other notables in the cast are the always entertaining Peter Stormare ("where is pancakes house?")  and Famke Janssen (X-Men, Taken, The Faculty, Hemlock Grove). Oh yeah, one of the dudes who plays a Predator is in it too, and just as buried in prosthetics so you probably wouldn't even know that.

Anyway, enough about cast.

If you've seen "Brothers Grimm" or "Van Helsing" you probably have an idea how this film is going to look/feel. So just sit back and watch. Action, entertainment, stunts and special effects. Although for as feared witch hunters as they are, Hansel and Gretel  seem rather terrible at it. Perhaps it's the strength of this particular witch. I dunno. There is some retelling of the fairy tale, a little change to and deepening of the explanation as to why their father abandoned them in the woods, basically to shoehorn in some motivation and plot explanations.

So if you're not adverse to just sitting back and watching a film it works. If you're looking for something deeper/darker in the Hansel and Gretel story, this doesn't do it.

Movies: The Loved Ones

The Loved Ones (2009) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1316536/

Horror / Thriller

Lola asks Brent to take her to prom. Brent declines. Lola's daddy only wants her to be happy so he helps Lola have her own prom. Meanwhile Brent went off into the field to listen to some music, but after a surprise headache he finds out the hard way he's attending Lola's prom.
There's actually a little more back story involved that shows that Brent has indirectly encountered Lola and her daddy's special relationship before, the explanation of which is doled out as the film progresses.

I think I heard about this film after reading a list about relatively unheard-of recent horror films. I've seen about half the films on the list, but the description of "The Loved Ones" seemed interesting. I've already watched a few decent films from Australia thanks to the power of Netflix and figured I'd gamble on this one. Glad I did. Granted, there weren't a lot of surprises story-wise, most events and the outcome are pretty standard horror fare, but the film was executed well.

I was pleased to see Robin McLeavy, the actress who plays Lola, again. I first saw her in "Hell on Wheels" where she plays Eva, a distinctly tattooed once-captured-by-Indians-now-turned-camp-whore character. She also played as Abraham Lincoln's mother in "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter".

Like I said, not an especially new horror-story plot, but executed well and entertaining.