Wednesday, November 25, 2015
The GAR! Podcast, you know we talk about "Breaking Bad" a lot, and in the past when it has come up in conjunction with the then-upcoming "Jessica Jones" Netflix series, I have always had one roadblock. Who the hell was/is Krysten Ritter? I get beaten up every time, most recently right here.
I'm sorry, but some folks may have thought Ms. Ritter was amazing as Jesse Pinkman's girlfriend Jane Margolis in her nine episodes of "Breaking Bad," but she never left an impression on me. It's only when I have to be reminded of her role that I remember her, that I recall her, in my opinion, lackluster performance. Ritter in "Breaking Bad," to me, was very similar to her scenes with Mike Colter in the first episode of "Jessica Jones" - a cold fish hardly trying but surrounded by otherwise brilliance.
I hope this changes with this series. It should be noted that I am reviewing this Netflix series the same way I did with "Daredevil" - one episode at a time, as I watch it. So all you folks who consumed this entire thing in a mad binge watch, chill with the spoilers, because if I get something wrong or am misguided - I probably just haven't gotten there yet. Be patient.
We open on Jessica doing the right thing. Last time she had fallen into The Purple Man's trap for her, and allowed his will to make Midwest girl Hope kill her own parents. Instead of running, Jessica's first instinct, she takes the heroic turn - inspired by her friend Trish - and stays to deal with the authorities. Here at the police station, in mock interrogation, Ritter continues her cool modern day noir character.
If "AKA Ladies Night" was meant as a tour through a day in the life of Jessica Jones, this episode continues that trend, further exploring the people and tactics in her life. We learn more about her relationship with Trish, we see her check in with Jeri, with Hope, and with Luke. We even meet her upstairs neighbors, bizarre fraternal twins who would make great 21st century additions to the tenants of 1970s horrors Rosemary's Baby and The Sentinel.
We also see what makes Jessica a great detective. We see her at work, we see her methods. The show is still pumping that film noir vibe hard, but I can't but imagine a watered down version of Jessica fitting in well with folks like Jim Rockford, Sam McCloud, and Columbo, just as much as Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. I like this, she's not just physical, but a thinking detective.
There is also the horror that is Kilgrave. In Jessica's investigation we learn that he did not die by getting hit by a bus a year ago. In some medical stuff just a bit too close to home for me, we learn where this episode got its title and how Kilgrave lost the function of both kidneys, and then mind-controlled his way into two new kidneys. As one who knows the path, it is indeed gruesome.
The episode was written by Micah Schraft who worked for the CW on shows like "Jane the Virgin" and "The Tomorrow People," notably neither of their hit superhero shows, "Arrow" and "The Flash." He might think of making that jump based on this episode.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Now, this brother is figuring heavily in the current storyline, and it's odd to keep hearing the name Andy Diggle and seeing an actor play him. This is a step beyond the Neal Adams remark a few weeks back, because I doubt we'll ever see Neal. The Andy Diggle thing is different.
Kord Industries to get our hopes up. This one is Wolfman Biologics, named for writer Marv Wolfman, who did his share of Speedy stories during his reign on New Teen Titans. Ironically, it's also where Diggle finds his brother.
The Andy thing brings back the annoying bugaboo between Oliver and Diggle over family and secrets. It seems that the H.I.V.E. ghosts are definitely enhanced by a drug, as well as bound by Darhk's suggestion - and probably dead as well. Ray, coming out his back-from-the-dead funk, pinpoints their home base. It was a thrill to see the Atom join the fight after so long.
Baron Blitzkrieg. This Nazi super-villain clashed with the All-Star Squadron frequently, as well as Earth-Two versions of Wonder Woman and Superman. In comics it should be noted the Baron never really had an interest in magic, and on "Arrow," he won't be going by his Blitzkrieg monicker.
Next: the big Arrow/Flash crossover, when Heroes Join Forces, against Vandal Savage!
And then there's this...
Friday, November 20, 2015
My first impression was mixed. Bendis was, and is, a fantastic writer, but his style, no matter how things turned out (and they turned out well, he turned the comic into a million dollar franchise), was not for my Earth's Mightiest Heroes. I did not want Wolverine or Spider-Man on the team, or Spider-Woman or Sentry or Ares for that matter. I did not want the years long story arc of Secret Invasion. And most of all, I did not want deconstructionist thinking in my comic books. Bendis did all of these things, and yes, in hindsight, they all worked. But it wasn't my Avengers.
"Marvel's Jessica Jones" was created for Netflix by, and the first episode was written by Melissa Rosenberg, and she's also an executive producer, and the showrunner. She is the award winning head writer of "Dexter," who also adapted most of the Twilight saga for the screen, and worked on "Birds of Prey," which was far better than anyone wants to remember. I am hopeful, and have faith in her abilities - despite how "Dexter" ended.
Also among the numerous executive producers for "Jessica Jones" is the character and series co-creator Brian Michael Bendis. Shouldn't he be busy wrecking the Iron Man comic or making the "Powers" TV series better? Yeah, that was sarcasm. Pardon me, I'm still bitt er about what he did to my Avengers…
I love the opening line of the series: "New York may be the city that never sleeps, but it sure does sleep around." Jessica is very old school Raymond Chandler down and out private dick, but one must wonder - would we have gotten such a gratuitous panties shot out of a sleeping Philip Marlowe?
There's also that longer than needed shot of the bus ad - the "Trish Talk" radio show - introducing one of my favorite comic book characters, one technically older than the corporate name of Marvel itself, Patsy Walker. No relation. And in this incarnation, she's blonde and going by Trish. I can't wait for more of her, whether she's 'catty' or not.
Carrie-Anne Moss' Ms. Jeri Hogarth is a gender-switched womanizing lesbian version of Jeryn Hogarth, a lawyer who worked closely with Danny (Iron Fist) Rand. We also get our first glimpse of Mike Colter as Rand's partner from the comics, Luke Cage, while Jessica is on stakeout and peeping tomming it while trying to stay awake. The scenes with Luke Cage are the only places where Krysten Ritter falters. The words are there as is the direction, and Mike Colter is great, but there is no chemistry at least for me. This is the only time where Ritter seems remote, robotic, almost as if she's reading the words. I didn't believe her at all.
And that's when we find out just what kind of sociopath Kilgrave is. The ending is horrific. If "Daredevil" raised the stakes in what can be done in comic book superhero television, "Jessica Jones" takes it to a whole new level. I can't wait for more.
Wednesday, November 18, 2015
We've got at least four movies and a short-lived TV series full of continuity that has been changed and reset more times than a videogame. Play. Reset. Play. Over and over again so that much of what you know is different every time you hit the reset button. Add to that the concept of alternate timelines, alternate pasts, and alternate futures, it just gets worse. For all those "Doctor Who" fans out there quoting David Tennant's 'timey-wimey' monologue, you get the picture.
Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor are still trying to destroy Skynet to prevent the machines from killing the human race, and a variety of Terminators are out to get them. That's all still true, it's the rules and variables that are different, and of course it's been updated. There are surprises, young Arnold, old Arnold, Lee Byung-hun as a T-1000, and... well, that would be telling. But then again, that's one of the big problems with this flick, all the big surprises were given away in the trailers.
Game of Thrones," as Sarah Connor, is worse than bad, she's completely unbelievable. HBO has her right, the less dialogue, the better the performance.
Here's the bottom line. I saw this flick for free on the TV loop in my stateroom of a recent cruise. It was enjoyable for free to watch as I pleased or not. If I'd had to pay for it, I think I might have been mad. See at your own risk.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Mr. Movie Steve Friedman, I had heard about this movie on an almost weekly basis, and especially the ending. I was very pleased to finally have the chance to see X - The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, especially on the TCM Classic Cruise, and introduced by Ben Mankiewicz and producer Roger Corman himself.
last year's cruise, and seeing him at the port in a wheelchair before boarding, understandably there were some health concerns. There needn't have been. Though with a cane, he walked out onto the stage of the Buena Vista Theatre to a thunderous standing ovation.
Roger and Ben talked mainly about X, as the film's actual title card reads, and how it was made. In typical Corman fashion it was made in three weeks for $300,000. The mad acting skills of star Ray Milland and first timer Don Rickles were also up for discussion, and well deserved. Milland has always been one of the good ones, and I've always thought Rickles was a pretty amazing, if underrated, actor myself. The cast was rounded out by Diana Van der Vlis, an almost dead ringer for Elizabeth Mongomery, and a young Dick Miller.
This was a fun watch, but not much beyond the typical early 1960s scifi fare, but decidedly ahead of its time all the same. Not as cool as I thought it would be, but that said, it just doesn't get any better when it's on the big screen and introduced by the director, a living legend himself.