Friday, May 19, 2017

Before The Defenders: The Worst Parts Of Netflix’s Marvel Series

From the article "Before The Defenders: 15 Worst Parts Of Netflix’s Four Marvel Series" by Michael Natale
April 13, 2017

Below are the LUKE CAGE related excerpts. You can read the entire piece at the link above.

Suffice it to say the info below contain SPOILERS from the Marvel shows so...




7. KILLING THE WISE OLDER BLACK MAN 

When Ben Urich, the wise older black man who served the community through his journalism while proving a mentor to “Daredevil’s” main cast was killed, it was absolutely heartbreaking. When Detective Oscar Clemons, the wise older black man who served the community on the force while proving a mentor to Jessica Jones was killed, it was sad but oddly repetitive. When Pops, the wise older black man who served the community through his barbershop while proving a mentor to Luke Cage was killed, a handful of folks likely took a step back and said “Wait, now hold up a minute…”

Look, if Obi-Wan taught us anything, killing the wise old mentor can be a powerful narrative tool, but repeat the trope too many times and you’ve not only got yourself diminishing returns, but also a real weird trend in your programs. Killing these characters, particularly Ben Urich who is an integral part of Marvel’s comic book microcosm, shuts down a lot of narrative opportunities going forward.


5. CHANGING LUKE CAGE

We love the jaded, broken, noir-ish Luke Cage from “Jessica Jones,” who’d rather polish a bar or pick up a broad than punish a bad guy, who spends every waking hour trying hard to suppress the memory of his dead wife; for whom the equally damaged Jessica Jones provides a lifeline and an answer. We also love the upbeat, friendly force for good hiding out in a barbershop, helping his community, looking after the youth, quick with a joke and a smile and always ready to kick a little ass if it means cleaning up the mean streets of Harlem. The Luke Cage whose heart is captured not only by the badass Misty Knight, but also by the nurturing Claire Temple.

The problem is it’s near-impossible to wrap your head around both being the same man. The disparity is so vast that one can’t help but see Luke Cage as a prequel, easier to see this as Luke’s life before the breaking point than believe he somehow magically healed from the broken, brooding man he was throughout “Jessica Jones.”



13. KILLING COTTONMOUTH (LUKE CAGE)

Our previous installment declared Mahershala Ali’s Cottonmouth to be the #6 best part of the entire MCU/Netflix undertaking, so you can imagine how heartbreaking it was to see such a charismatic character killed off. Yet often, ending such an engaging antagonist can often propel the plot forward, provide much needed catharsis or fundamentally affect our main hero, as we’ve seen with characters like Kilgrave.
However, looking back, Cottonmouth’s untimely end seems superfluous and downright silly, and it’s hard to see why the team thought taking him out would benefit the show as a whole.

Sure, the initial shock of Cottonmouth’s sudden death created an “anything can happen” sentiment towards the show, akin to Ned Stark’s dramatic end in “Game of Thrones'” game changing first season. Yet, looking back, the building territorial conflict between the cool, kingly Cottonmouth, the overly ambitious Shades and the flamboyantly fierce Diamondback would have made for far more intriguing TV than Diamondback’s unencumbered and abrupt takeover, playing out like “The Wire” or “A Fistful of Dollars,” with Luke Cage caught in the middle of two undesirable outcomes. Ultimately, what we lost out on in favor of a “shock” moment hardly feels worth it.


10. THE BACK HALF OF LUKE CAGE 

“Daredevil” Season 1 established a tone and structure, and the subsequent shows barely departed from that. That is, until “Luke Cage” took a big leap with bold choices regarding the series’ big bad, Diamondback. Those very attached to the established aesthetic derided Diamondback for being garish and over-the-top. However, fans of blaxploitation cinema teased by the obvious homages to the genre by the soundtrack were satiated by the grandness of Erik LaRay Harvey’s villain, who could spit Bible quotes alongside “The Warriors” references, who would fit perfectly in cult treasures like “Dolemite” and “Truck Turner.”

Ultimately, the division over Diamondback amongst fans represents a larger identity issue “Luke Cage” suffered from. It wasn’t that “Luke Cage” was doomed if it embraced the blaxploitation genre it owed its origins to, but rather that it did so too late. The show seemed unsure what it wanted to be, prestige drama or B-Movie, and decided to do both. The problem, it seems, is that in order to embrace the latter, it shed the weight of its previous socially conscious grounded melodrama, and trying to give the same narrative heft to such heightened proceedings proved too much, and the wheels came off towards the end.

RELATED

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Why 'Star Trek: Discovery' is Important [VIDEO]

Blog Post #25
Star Trek: Discovery is an upcoming American television series created by Bryan Fuller and Alex Kurtzman for CBS All Access.(A video subscription service). It is the first series developed specifically for that service, and the first Star Trek series since Star Trek: Enterprise concluded in 2005. Set roughly a decade before the events of the original Star Trek series, separate from the timeline of the concurrent feature films, Discovery explores a previously mentioned event from the history of Star Trek while following the crew of the USS Discovery.
Sonequa Martin-Green stars as Michael Burnham, the first officer of the USS Discovery.
Star Trek: Discovery is set to debut on CBS with a two-part premiere in "fall" 2017, before moving to All Access. The first season will consist of 15 episodes. -Wikipedia
You can watch the trailer below and my thoughts, via Instagram, after.



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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Ranking the Solo Defenders Series

Blog Post #24

Now that I've seen all four of the solo Defenders series and can say how each one ranked.

In October 2013, it was reported that Marvel was preparing four drama series and a miniseries, totaling 60 episodes. Weeks later it was announced that Netflix would provide live action series centered around Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist, leading up to a miniseries based on the Defenders, a group of the heroes. Each character was to get one season and then join forces in the Defenders Mini-Series. Because of the popularity of the first series to premiere, Daredevil got a second season before the Defenders.

The Defenders Mini-Series is supposed to premiere on Netflix sometime this year, 2017.

Each series was unique and brought their own flavor, which made some standout more than others.I reviewed each season as I watched them so below is mostly how I think they ranked with some brief comments. 

5. IRON FIST, Season One (Premiered March 17, 2017). I didn’t hate this intro to the character, but it left a lot to be desired. Danny Rand (the Iron Fist) was fine, his supporting cast good to great, the martial arts–a lot to be desired. The show had a lot of other good things going for it, but as a solo Defenders series it comes in last.






4. DAREDEVIL, Season Two (Premiered March 18, 2016) I thought this season was cool. As I stated “Because of the popularity of the first series to premiere, Daredevil got a second season before the Defenders.” And maybe they shouldn’t have. Besides the introduction of The Punisher and another surprise, a lot in the season didn’t really work for me.





3. LUKE CAGE, Season One (Premiered September 30, 2016) This series promised to be unlike its predecessors and it WAS! Luke Cage, the series, from the start became the blackest show on television! Because it was Netflix it went places other black TV shows never went and grounded it in a crime drama in one of the most historical black places in the United States–Harlem.  Even though the show was called “Luke Cage” it could have been “Harlem”, that’s how integral the area was to the show. Despite a plot twist that turned a lot of people off, I thought the season ended on a good note.


2. DAREDEVIL, Season One (Premiered April 10, 2015) This inaugural Defenders series was all types of kickasscrazy. It was raw, it was gritty and it had a great villain whose story paralleled Daredevil’s which made him even more tragic and twisted. The origin of a hero was perfectly plotted and I contest a lot better served in a series than a movie.






1. JESSICA JONES, Season One (Premiered November 20, 2015) I didn’t know what to think about this show and didn’t even like it the first couple of episodes, but I finally got it and what I got I loved. Jessica Jones starts out the most damaged of heroes and we soon find out why …one of the most twisted of villains, with a twisted motive and a twisted power to boot. Way more psychological and methodical, I thought this show presented the fullest depiction of a complex hero and made it more than a “superhero show”.



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WATCH the trailer for The Defenders below






Tuesday, May 16, 2017

'Shots Fired' Aftershow with Producers and Stars [VIDEOS]


Shots Fired is an American ten-part drama television series broadcast on Fox premiering on March 22, 2017.

About the show: 
When an African-American police officer kills an unarmed white college student, a small town in North Carolina is turned upside-down. Before the town has a chance to grapple with this tragedy, the neglected murder of an African-American teen is brought to light, re-opening wounds that threaten to tear the town apart. Leading the Department of Justice’s inquiry into these shootings is seasoned investigator ASHE AKINO (Sanaa Lathan, “The Perfect Guy”) and a young Special Prosecutor, PRESTON TERRY (Stephan James, “Race,” “Selma”), both of whom are African-American. As they start to pull back the layers of both cases, they suspect a cover-up that may involve some of the state’s most powerful people, including fiercely political North Carolina Governor PATRICIA EAMONS (Academy-, Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actress Helen Hunt, “As Good As It Gets,” “The Sessions”). She’s in a tough re-election fight, and the recent shootings in her state are making it even tougher. Meanwhile, real estate mogul and owner of a privatized prison ARLEN COX (Academy- and Golden Globe Award-winning actor Richard Dreyfuss, “The Goodbye Girl,” “Jaws,” “Madoff”), is pulled into the case, as LT. ERIC BREELAND (Stephen Moyer, “The Bastard Executioner,” “True Blood”), a seasoned veteran in the town’s Sheriff’s Department, gets caught in the middle of the investigation. SHOTS FIRED tackles the racial divide from all perspectives. As Ashe and Preston navigate the media attention, public debate and social unrest that come with such volatile cases, they learn that everybody has a story, and that the truth is rarely black and white.

Below is a playlist of all the aftershows in reverse order starting with the latest to the first episodes.

 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

"The Get Down', Parts 1 & 2 Review

The Get Down is an American musical drama television series created by Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis. It premiered its six-episode first part (PART I) globally on August 12, 2016 on Netflix and the five-episode second part (PART II) concluding the first season of the series was released on April 7, 2017.

I finally finished Part II of The Get Down and my reviews of both parts are below

#TheGetDown Part 1 Review: YO I f*cking LOVED The Get Down! That shit was HYPE! Finally, finally, finally #HipHop gets its just due! I can't believe that they made a show out of hip hop. REAL hip hop! Not some sugarcoated, watered down explanation of what hip hop is or supposed to be and NOT another portrait of a rapper. Well not exactly. Yes there is that, but they explain the ESSENCE of hip hop, composing a rhyme, the deejaying, the cutting, the gotdamn breakbeat! Who ever did that? The show is also visually dope! The set design and costume design REALLY transports you to the time period. The show has vintage records from the time period, but the new original songs fit into that time period as well. The story really captures the fun and wonderment of early HipHop as well. They incorporate storylines around the DJ, the rapper (or wordsmith), the disco singer and the graffiti artist. All CORE elements of HipHop. This show SOARS mostly because of the young cast though. #ShameikMoore who I already knew was a STAR from the movie 'Dope' is still great, his boys in "The Get Down Brothers" #SkylanBrooks, #TJBrownJr and #JadenSmith are also good. The standout brother and the one that gets the most play because he's the "wordsmith" is #JusticeSmith is absolutely terrific! Also terrific is his female co-star #HerizenGuardiola! Those two apart and together just STEAL the show! 🎤💖🎤 As I stated in my review of the first episode (@ #GDP1E1) where I also explained my personal point of view being from #NewYork, "This was a romanticized retelling of the origin of #HipHop, but from everything I know and lived through also pretty authentic." This is only "Part 1" of the season. The "Part 2" remaining six episodes are coming in 2017 and I can't wait! As a headline I saw from 'The Ringer' stated it perfectly👌🏾 "‘The Get Down’ Is the Origin Myth That Hip-hop Deserves" #DanksGDRP1
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#TheGetDown Part 2 Review: I thought this continuation was terrific and still “the Origin Myth That Hip-hop Deserves”. The story continues pretty much where it left off with our characters. Zeke (Books) is still in his internship and Mylene is still straddling the fence of superstar and devoutly religious daughter. The other characters are still in the mix too and by the end of the day everyone is still in it for the love of the music. This second half delves a lot more into the characters and gets really dramatic, but it still never loses its core love of the music. My favorite sequence in this part was “disco versus hiphop”. Because of the drama, the blueprint of hip-hop gets shunted to the side for a minute, but by the end it’s right back like it should be, in the forefront. Again the acting is terrific. I must give props to the older actors on the show ZABRYNA GUEVARA (Mylene's mom), #GiancarloEsposito and of course #JimmySmits. Not to forget LILLIAS WHITE (Fat Annie) and YAHYA ABDUL-MATEEN II (Cadillac) who really have a lot to do in this part, and that’s all I’m going to say. Once again it’s the younger actors who steal the show, #ShameikMoore, whose character “ShaolinFantastic, REALLY gets into a lot of drama and shows you what a great actor he is. The rest of "The Get Down Brothers" #SkylanBrooks, #TJBrownJr and #JadenSmith also do well with the continuation of their characters. The standout brother again of course is #JusticeSmith (Books). JUSTICE SMITH is still absolutely terrific as again is his female co-star #HerizenGuardiola (Mylene)! Those two apart and together continue to STEAL the show! While things get a little animated, and I MEAN animated, this part of The Get Down delves more into the characters than the origin of #HipHop and I think it was wise to separate the episodes. It is still the continuation of the stories from Part One, but totally different. (Part 2 is only five episodes, as opposed to the six in Part 1, but there is an extended episode in there). The music is still there, the performances are still there, but Part Two chose to focus on what is the true heart of the show–the characters. In the end it’s the characters
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 All of my recent reviews are on Instagram at hashtag #DanksReview

UPDATE: May 25, 2017
'The Get Down' Canceled at Netflix After One Season

My reaction

Ok let me explain #TheGetDown being cancelled. As a #filmmaker that shit was INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE to produce. A #PeriodPiece alone is expensive to produce, costumes, sets, cars, locations. THIS SHOW also recreated digitally a lot of stuff in the Bronx because they just don't exist anymore. Especially the graffiti subway trains. A lot of what they said on the show about getting rid of graffiti was true. Those trains, a core part of that time period, were eliminated. Add the music budget, original and existing, and you have more money to spend. The other #VFX (visual effects) like the animation and transitions are also expensive and take a long time to produce. Frankly while watching it I couldn't believe they spent this amount of money on #HipHop—old hip hop. As a #HipHopHead and someone from New York AT THAT TIME I love it for everything it accomplished.👊🏾 You can read my reviews of both parts right here on IG. 🎤PART I @ #DanksGDRP1_1 and 🎤🎤PART II @ #DanksGDRP2_2
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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Review

I reviewed the film on Instagram and you can read it below. All of my recent reviews are on Instagram at hashtag #DanksReview

#TheImmortalLifeOfHenriettaLacks Review: Believe me when I tell you, this is NO "TV movie". This film is as theatrical as you can get as far as filmmaking and DAMN SURE as far as performance. SYNOPSIS: In 1951, cancerous cells from Henrietta Lacks lead to breakthroughs that change the face of medicine forever. Aided by writer Rebecca Skloot (Rose Byrne), Deborah Lacks (Oprah Winfrey) embark on a quest to learn about the mother she never knew. As I tweeted "It is GLORIOUS to see this many actors or color over 50! Such legends🎭🎭🎭" Actors like LESLIE UGGAMS, REG E. CATHEY, JOHN BEASLEY and ADRIANE LENOX turn in marvelous performances. You never and I mean NEVER get to see that many actors of color of that age range in scenes together. Not to be left out, the performance by ROSE BYRNE was great too! The performance of this film though begins and ends with #OprahWinfrey. Truthfully I had not expected SUCH a nuanced and emotional performance from Oprah. Oprah really dug deep for this performance and SHINES. She exhibits the complexity of this woman who's not all the way healthy, not all the way together, but still wants to know about her mother at the urging of an outsider (Byrne) who she's not entirely comfortable with. This journey the two women go on is emotional, involved and incorporates #HenriettaLacks herself (played beautifully by RENÉE ELISE GOLDSBERRY). The story is all tied together superbly by #WriterDirector GEORGE C. WOLFE which should come as no surprise because he also directed the excellent #LackawannaBlues (2005). 'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' is more than the journey of a daughter to find her mother, it’s also a celebration of legacy, of life and what it means to be family. A wonderful film.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Is John Boyega the Next Hollywood A-Lister?

Blog Post #23

John Boyega in Attack the Block
In the Screenrant piece by Kate Gardner Why Star Wars’ John Boyega is the Next Big Hollywood A-Lister she writes:
As Boyega continues to gain more and more fame for roles outside of Finn, we could be watching the birth of Hollywood’s next big star, in the vein of leading men such as Will Smith, Tom Cruise, and George Clooney
Boyega’s got the talent to stand alongside any of these stars, and he should be recognized for that. Attack the Block showed off his capability as a leading man back in 2011. His turn as Moses, a teenager who must stop an alien invasion, was subtle and powerful. His work in the film is a master class in subtlety, especially for the then nineteen-year old’s first major role. It would have been easy to turn the role into something showy or flashy, but Boyega reigned it in and delivered a performance that was genuine and powerful in how quiet it was. It was Boyega’s work in that film that caught the eye of JJ Abrams, who was rumored to be Boyega’s biggest champion during the audition process for The Force Awakens

Attack the Block is of course where I first saw Boyega and I was blown away by his screen presence–at such a young age. Young actors can be very good, but it takes a rare talent to have presence AND be the Lead of the story. Boyega had both. I've been following his career ever since as indciated by the posts on this blog. I wrote a full review of Attack the Block for the 'Nother Brother Entertainment blog here and Gardner goes on to write a compelling argument about why Boyega is the next big thing at Screenrant here


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