REVIEW: JESSICA JONES – SEASON 2

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MAIN CAST

Krysten Ritter (Veronica Mars)
Rachael Taylor (Transformers)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers RPM)
J.R. Ramirez (Arrow)
Terry Chen (Bates Motel)
Leah Gibson (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix)
Janet McTeer (The White Queen)
Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galactica)

Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Hal Ozsan (Redline)
Maury Ginsberg (Two Guys and a Girl)
Angel Desai (Black Knight)
Rebecca De Mornay (Risky Business)
Elden Henson (Daredevil)
Wil Traval (Once Upon a Time)
David Tennant (Doctor Who)
John Ventimiglia (The Sopranos)
Lisa Tharps (Law & Order: SUV)

The first season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones was a kind of miracle, combining a taut and entertaining superhero narrative with one of the most nuanced explorations of domestic abuse and sexual violence ever put on screen. Krysten Ritter’s prickly, guarded, hard-drinking Jessica is a female superhero with unique significance. Her very existence—a woman with literal super-strength who still fell prey to a male predator—skewers accepted narratives about victimhood, while her determined independence cuts through expectations of how women are “supposed” to act after assault.Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)Ritter’s performance in the second season is a few degrees more emotional, as Jessica—prompted by her best friend Trish (Rachael Taylor)—finally begins to set in the trauma of her past. That trauma encapsulates not only Kilgrave’s abuse, but the car accident that killed her family and landed her in a hospital where mysterious, horrific, superpower-inducing experiments were conducted on her. And she’s not sad or scared about what was done to her; she’s furious. In an anger management support group she reluctantly attends, participants bounce a ball against the wall to relieve stress while they share their stories. Jessica bounces it so hard she smashes a hole in the wall, before confirming: “Still angry.” Female anger is often stigmatized; women put on a calm face for fear of being labelled crazy or hysterical or a bitch. To see it expressed so openly and so often in a Netflix comic-book adaptation feels faintly revolutionary.Rachael Taylor and Eka Darville in Jessica Jones (2015)That’s also true of the new season’s handling of Jessica’s sex life. When a midtown douche notices Jessica in a bar and leers—“Nice ass”—she wheels around and snaps, “What did you say?” Surely she’s about to kick his ass, you think. Smash-cut to: Jessica having joyless sex with this loser in a bathroom stall, her face a mask, her detachment painfully clear. It’s a stark contrast to her passionate clinches last season with Luke Cage (Mike Colter), which served to show that being raped did not define her. Then, sex was a way in which she reclaimed her body and her selfhood; now, it’s a way for her to dissociate. This coping mechanism is explored in greater depth following the introduction of her new love interest Oscar (JR Ramirez), a big-hearted family man who’s bewildered by Jessica’s resistance to intimacy.Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones (2015)The plot thread driving the new season is Jessica and Trish trying to uncover the truth about 20 missing days from Jessica’s past: 20 days during which she went into hospital almost dead, and emerged with superpowers. Though she has total amnesia about this time, it gradually becomes clear that her origin story is similar to that of this season’s Big Bad (played by Janet McTeer), a mysterious, preternaturally strong young woman who was subjected to the same experiments as Jessica, and came out a “monster.” The presence of a super-powered villain terrorizing New York yet again only heightens the public backlash against “supers,” although the bigotry faced by Jessica and others like her is the one place where the show’s allegories feel clumsy, particularly in a scene where someone pointedly refers to “you people.”While the new season—at least for its first five episodes—lacks a threat as propulsive and engaging as Kilgrave, its ensemble also feels better served. Carrie Anne Moss’s steely, high-powered lawyer Jeri Hogarth, by now a mainstay of the Marvel TV universe, is propelled in a rich, moving new direction by some unexpectedly brutal news. And Trish’s history as a child star takes on new complexity when she’s forced by necessity to seek out a producer who assaulted her when she was a teenager. The moment in which Jessica confronts this particular creep, and denounces “pricks like you who think you can take whatever, or whoever, you want” would have been a thrill no matter the context, but in this Time’s Up moment in Hollywood it’s a particularly cathartic standout. As a female superhero whose anger makes her powerful, and whose trauma has no impact on her strength, Jessica Jones has never felt more essential.

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REVIEW: SEE NO EVIL

 

CAST

Kane (MacGruber)
Christina Vidal (Limitles sTV)
Samantha Noble (Gabriel)
Luke Pegler (Fool’s Gold)
Michael J. Pagan (Chain Letter)
Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones)

Officer Frank Williams (Steven Vidler) and his partner Blaine investigate an abandoned house, where they find a young woman with her eyes ripped out. A large figure with an axe then murders Blaine and Frank has his arm chopped off before he is able to shoot the attacker in the head. Afterwards, detectives find seven bodies in the house, all of which have had their eyes ripped out.Four years later, Frank and his partner Hannah take a group of delinquents – Christine (Christina Vidal), Kira (Samantha Noble), Michael (Luke Pegler), Tyson (Michael J. Pagan), Zoe (Rachel Taylor), Melissa (Penny McNamee), Richie (Craig Horner), and Russell (Mikhael Wilder) to clean up the abandoned Blackwell Hotel in order to turn it into a homeless shelter, as explained by the owner Margaret (Cecily Polson). That night, while Michael, Zoe, Russell, and Melissa go upstairs to the penthouse, Tyson and Richie decide to look for the previous owner’s safe, and find what appears to be the body of a recently deceased man. Richie panics and runs off, only to be dragged into an elevator with a hook by Jacob Goodnight (Kane). When Margaret mentions the elevator is being used, Hannah goes to check on the group, but is killed in the elevator. Christine tries to help Kira escape the hotel, but Jacob attacks Kira with his hook and drags her into a dumbwaiter. Christine and Frank go upstairs to find the others, and run into Tyson who tells them what happened to Richie. Frank realizes it must be Jacob and is then pulled into the ceiling by the hook and killed.Kira is held hostage by Jacob because of her religious tattoos, and is kept captive in a cage where she witnesses Richie having his eyes torn out. Melissa and Russell go off into a room on their own, but are chased by Jacob. Russell tries to lower Melissa out of a window, but he is killed by Jacob. Then, Jacob drops Melissa out the window. However, she survives her fall, but then she is killed by a pack of stray dogs. Jacob then attacks Michael and Zoe. Zoe nearly escapes from Jacob but her cell phone rings, alerting Jacob to her location. He subsequently kills her by forcing the cell phone down her throat. Michael finds Christine and Tyson as they try to rescue Kira, but they are attacked again by Jacob, who knocks out Michael while the other two escape up the elevator shaft.The pair find Kira but are interrupted by Jacob before they can release her. Tyson creates a distraction but is electrocuted with his own taser and crushed with the bank vault. Margaret then shows up, and reveals herself as Jacob’s mother, who lured Frank back to the hotel to get revenge on him for shooting her son, and explains the prisoners are merely a “bonus”. Margaret attempts to shoot Kira, but Jacob intervenes and throws her headfirst into a nail on the wall. Michael reappears to help the girls battle Jacob, and the trio is eventually able to stab him through the eye with a pipe and throw him out of a window, where his heart is impaled by a shard of glass, apparently killing him.

If you’re looking for deep story or characters, this ain’t it. But that’s not what slasher films are about. If you’re looking for some good violence, or if you’re into gory films, go check this out!

REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS (2007)

 

 

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Eagle Eye)
Megan Fox (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Tyrese Gibson (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Josh Duhamel (Paradise Lost)
Anthony Anderson (Kangaroo Jack)
Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones)
John Turturro (Exodus: Gods and Kings)
Jon Voight (Pearl Harbor)
Michael O’Neill (Bates Motel)
Kevin Dunn (Samantha Who?)
Julie White (Lincoln)
Amaury Nolasco (The Rum Diary)
Zack Ward (Bloodrayne 2)
W. Morgan Sheppard (Star Trek)
Bernie Mac (Bad Santa)
Travis Van Winkle (Friday The 13th)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Peter Cullen (Dungeons & Dragons)
Mark Ryan (Robin of Sherwood)
Darius McCrary (Anger Management)
Robert Foxworth (Beyond The Stars)
Jess Harnell (Little Nicky)
Hugo Weaving (The Matrix)
Reno Wilson (Mike & Molly)
Charlie Adler (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Samantha Smith (Supernatural)
Tom Lenk (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Odette Annable (Supergirl)
Colton Haynes (Arrow)

Several thousand years ago, the planet Cybertron was consumed by a civil war between the two Transformer factions, the Autobots led by Optimus Prime and the Decepticons led by Megatron. Optimus jettisoned the AllSpark, a mystical artifact that brings life to the planet, into space, but Megatron pursued it. Megatron crashed in the Arctic Circle and froze, and was discovered in 1895 by explorer Archibald Witwicky. Witwicky inadvertently activated Megatron’s navigational system, which etched the AllSpark’s coordinates into his glasses. The glasses end up in the possession of his great-great-grandson Sam Witwicky. In the present, Sam buys his first car, a rusting Chevrolet Camaro, but discovers it has a life of its own.In modern Qatar, Blackout attacks and destroys a United States military base in a failed attempt to hack the military network to find information on Megatron and the AllSpark. A team of Army Rangers led by Captain William Lennox escape across the desert, pursued by Blackout’s drone Scorponok. They fight Scorponok off, aided by aerial reinforcements, and travel home with Scorponok’s stinger, discovering sabot rounds damaged its armor. At the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense John Keller leads the investigation into the attack. Sound analyst Maggie Madsen catches another Decepticon, Frenzy, hacking into the U.S. military network while onboard Air Force One. While the hack is thwarted, Frenzy downloads files on Archibald’s glasses, tracking down Sam with Barricade, disguised as a police car.Sam and his high school crush Mikaela Banes are rescued from Barricade and Frenzy by the Camaro who turns out to be Autobot scout Bumblebee, but he is mute and has to communicate through his car radio. Previously sending a beacon to his fellow Autobots, Bumblebee takes Sam and Mikaela to meet the new arrivals – Optimus, Jazz, Ironhide, and Ratchet. Optimus explains the details of their situation, revealing that if Megatron gained the AllSpark he would transform Earth’s machinery into a new army and exterminate mankind. Sam, Mikaela, and the Autobots travel to Sam’s house to retrieve the glasses, but the teenagers are captured by agents of Sector Seven, a top secret government branch, led by Seymour Simmons. The Autobots stop the agents, but they call for backup, who take Sam, Mikaela, and Bumblebee into custody, while Optimus obtains the glasses, and uses them to locate the Allspark.The respective groups connected to the Transformers are gathered together at Hoover Dam by Sector Seven’s director Tom Banachek, who reveals Megatron, still frozen, and the AllSpark. Frenzy, who smuggled away in Mikaela’s bag, summons the other Decepticons to attack and sabotages Megatron’s cryonic system. Bumblebee is released to protect the AllSpark, shrinking it down to a handheld size so it can be transported to safety. Megatron escapes the dam after thawing out. Frenzy attacks Secretary Keller, Madsen and Agent Simmons in the Dam’s radio room, trying to prevent them from summoning the Air Force, but is decapitated by his own ricocheting shuriken.A lengthy battle occurs in Mission City, with most of the Decepticons being killed, but Megatron murders Jazz. He prevents Sam’s attempted escape with the AllSpark, and begins to fight Optimus. After a long brawl Megatron seems to get the upper hand. Optimus then tells Sam to push the cube into his chest in order to ensure their mutual destruction, but Sam rams it into Megatron’s chest instead, extinguishing his spark. Starscream and Barricade are the only Decepticons to survive the battle and escape.Optimus salvages a shard of the AllSpark from Megatron’s body. The United States government shuts down Sector Seven, disposing of the dead Decepticons in the Laurentian Abyss. Sam and Mikaela then start a relationship while the Autobots secretly hide out on Earth, Optimus sends a transmission into space inviting any surviving Autobots to join them. A brief mid-credits scene shows Starscream escaping into space to rally other Decepticons and summon them to Earth.Granted, these aren’t your granddaddy’s Transformers. Souped up to resemble high-tech living robots while fighting and the latest in automobile trends in car form, Bay and the producers have mucked around considerably with the look of the Autobots and Decepticons, putting the infamous flames on Optimus Prime and turning Megatron into an alien jet. Supporters of the all-holy “G1” have every right to scoff, but “Transformers” has a wonderful way of making these ludicrous alterations fit into the bigger, slicker picture, pressing down hard on the extra-terrestrial angle of our visitors. It’s only a matter of moments before you buy these reinvented incarnations of popular characters and another few seconds before you start to root for their victory and defeat. Running at 140 minutes, Transformers never runs out of juice.

REVIEW: THE DEFENDERS

CAST

Charlie Cox (Stardust)
Krysten Ritter (Veronica Mars)
Mike Colter (Zero Dark thirty)
Finn Jones (Game of Thrones)
Élodie Yung (Gods of Egypt)
Sigourney Weaver (Avatar)
Rachael Taylor (The Loft)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers RPM)
Elden Henson (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Deborah Ann Woll (Ruby Sparks)
Jessica Henwick (Game of Thrones)
Ramón Rodríguez (The Taking of Pelham 123)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Scott Glenn (The Silence of The Lambs)
Simone Missick (K-Town)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Wai Ching Ho (Cadillac Man)
Carrie-Anne Moss (Chuck)
Peter McRobbie (16 Blocks)
Rob Morgan (Stranger Things)
Marko Zaror (Machete Kills)

 

The Defenders is Marvel’s best Netflix show, hands down.  While the crossover between Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage can occasionally veer into a fragmented set of mini-episodes early on, the awesome foursome eventually unites to form a show greater than the sum of its parts. The street-level superheroes provide a fantastic eight-episode run with high stakes, a frenzied pace and, most importantly, effortless chemistry.Things don’t start off that way, though. The opening pair of episodes read almost as a greatest hits collection of each hero’s respective shows before the narrative eventually relents and shoehorns the plot in a comically convenient way for the four to come together. The lack of instant gratification can be grating, but this is easily relieved by the fun interaction between fan-favourites that leads up to the team-up. Misty Knight and Jessica Jones’ brief scenes are worth the price of admission alone and there are a few, shall we say interesting, crossovers you won’t see coming. Without giving too much away, a cataclysmic event is unleashed upon New York and The Defenders, each following their own leads, stumble into each other’s paths in the same building. And then things get good. Really, really good. Unsurprisingly, The Hand are the villains of the season and are led by Sigourney Weaver’s Alexandra. Her performance is tempered by an unidentified terminal illness which spurs her character on and at least drives her away from the realms of cartoonish MCU villain as  she has an actual character arc rather than the bland go there, be evil trope of prior bad guys. When the show does focus on The Defenders (and, in fairness, that’s 90% of the time) the show is a rollercoaster of wisecracks, quips and, yup, Jessica Jones’ side-eye. It’s glorious fun and, for my money, feels like a much bigger event than The Avengers ever was. There’s a spine-tingling moment, complete with an inspirational score bubbling up in the background, where the four heroes unite to take on a foe at the midway point which ranks as an all-time great Marvel moment.Yes, The Defenders run is short, but those thinking a mere eight episodes won’t cut it can have their fears put to rest. Coupled with Game of Thrones season 7’s clipped seven-episode run, it feels like we’re reaching a watershed point in television where shows don’t need to be chained to a long episode run anymore. Barely a second is wasted in The Defenders: Every quiet character moment is poignant and fleshes out something or someone; every action sequence leads to something bigger, better, and more shocking; and every one-liner and on-the-nose dig at Iron Fist will make you laugh. Nothing outstays its welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: ARQ

CAST

Robbie Amell (The Flash)
Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones)
Shaun Benson (K-19)
Gray Powell (Hollywoodland)
Jacob Neayem (Regression)
Adam Butcher (Played)
Tantoo Cardinal (Black Robe)

Renton wakes up beside his former lover, Hannah. Three men break into his bedroom and take him hostage. Renton breaks his neck while escaping and wakes with a start, only for the men to break in once again. He and Hannah are taken to another room and bound to chairs. The leader of the group introduces himself as Father, identifying the others as Sonny and Brother; Cuz died of electrocution after touching a large device, the ARQ, in the room. Father says he represents a rebel group known as the Bloc and demands Renton surrender money, or “scrips”, from their rival organization, the Torus Corporation. He gives them several minutes to comply and leaves the room with the others to get food.Renton explains to Hannah the ARQ is a working perpetual motion machine he designed at Torus. After Torus shut down the project as an impossibility, he stole it. Renton believes the Bloc members to be after the ARQ rather than the scrips, though Hannah urges him to comply with their demands. After freeing himself and Hannah, he is killed while trying to escape. Renton wakes up gasping, only to relive the same scenario. This time, after freeing himself, he asks Hannah to help poison the intruders with cyanide gas. This fails when Hannah reveals herself as allied with them. Renton surrenders the scrips, only to be killed again after Sonny shoots him.After reviving, Renton questions Hannah about her past. She says she grew to resent Renton after he abandoned her to Torus, who tortured her. Renton says he never gave up looking for her after he escaped. Though he does not trust Hannah, Renton frees her. They work out a deal where they will split the scrips after using the cyanide gas to force Father and his group to stand down. Renton reneges on the deal, demanding that Hannah abandon the Bloc and come with him. She refuses and accidentally shoots Renton during a scuffle. Renton and Hannah wake in bed; this time, both recall the events. When Renton says the ARQ is causing a time loop, Hannah insists he give the technology to the Bloc. Eventually, Sonny reveals himself as a Torus mercenary and kills everyone.145458_5409_feat-770x433When they wake, Renton and Hannah agree they must keep the ARQ from Torus, though Renton expresses distrust in the Bloc. They convince Father to help them, but Sonny shoots Father and knocks Brother unconscious. After killing Sonny, Renton applies first aid to Father. He dies after Brother shoots him, not realizing Sonny is responsible. The next iteration, Sonny becomes aware of the time loop and immediately kills Father and Brother. Renton theorizes the ARQ is looping the same three-hour period due to running out of energy. Instead of producing unlimited energy, its fuel cells are refilled after every loop. When Sonny overpowers them, Renton sacrifices himself to prevent Sonny from acquiring the ARQ.1473859680893

In the next iteration, Sonny saves Cuz’s life, then kills Father and Brother. Renton and Hannah poison Sonny and Cuz with the cyanide. Before dying, Sonny uses the pool of blood from every other corpse (including Cuz, whom he kills) to set up a trap. After arguing not to destroy the machine, Hannah is electrocuted when she accidentally steps on Sonny’s trap. Renton briefly considers destroying the ARQ but allows the next iteration to begin. He admits he was wrong and offers the ARQ to the Bloc. Father, who is now aware of the time loop, and Brother agree to work with Hannah and Renton; however, Sonny and Cuz take all hostage. After Sonny forces Renton to disable the machine, Father and Brother die in the confusion of a blackout. Renton and Hannah briefly escape but return once they realize the time loop is localized to the house. After they kill Cuz, revealed to be a torturer for Torus, Sonny restarts the ARQ, only to be killed. An interrupted video message and the ARQ’s logs reveal a second, outer time loop: every nine time loops form their own loop in which their memories are reset. Unknowingly, they have repeated the same nine loops thousands of times. Realizing they are on their ninth loop, Renton and Hannah leave a desperate message to themselves, hoping future iterations can get the ARQ to the Bloc before Torus’ reinforcements arrive. After a robot breaks through and kills them, Hannah wakes with a gasp.bountykiller01

The movie questions multiple aspects of time travel in a fresh but familiar way, while developing strong characters. It is one of those movies that keeps you thinking after you’ve finished watching it.

REVIEW: LUKE CAGE – SEASON 1

CAST

Mike Colter (Ringer)
Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Simone Missick (A Taste of Romance)
Theo Rossi (Cloverfield)
Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Frank Whaley (Broken Arrow)
Sônia Braga (Alias)
Frankie Faison (The Silence of The Lambs)
Rob Morgan (Stranger Things)
Sean Ringgold (American Gangster)
Parisa Fitz-Henley (Even Money)
Karen Pittman (The Ameircans)
Erik LaRay Harvey (Twister)
Ron Cephas Jones (Mr. Robot)
Sonja Sohn (The Originals)
Rachael Taylor (Jessica Jones)

Netflix’s latest drama may not be a great superhero series, but it’s searingly relevant and entertaining. Premiering on Friday, Sept. 30, Luke Cage is vital and alive and of-the-moment. It sings with the rhythms and swagger of Harlem and it’s a genre show that wears its intellectual curiosities like a badge. It’s so satisfying as badass street poetry and muscular urban renewal parable that after watching the seven episodes made available for critics, I barely cared that as a superhero show, Luke Cage is often repetitive and a little underwhelming. It’s the logical extension of Marvel’s niche-y approach to its Netflix offerings, a specificity that has yielded shows that are far more provocative, but far less universally accessible than the company’s blockbuster movies.The Marvel movies try to tick every box, but staying true to Netflix’s general business model, their comic book shows have just gone after one or two boxes aggressively. Jessica Jones used a snarky heroine and a mind-controlling bad guy to craft a story about consent and the power of sisterhood. Daredevil was using blindness and the darkness of Hell’s Kitchen as a platform for a story of Catholic guilt and challenged faith. Run by Cheo Hodari Coker, Luke Cage is the Harlem Renaissance intersecting with the comic book renaissance, a confrontational act of all-too-real wish fulfillment imagining a young black male as bulletproof.

Mike Colter’s Luke Cage was introduced in Jessica Jones as a haunted love interest for the main character, where we learned about his powers, basically being super-strong and impervious to bullets (or pretty much anything that might pierce/penetrate/crush his skin). We pick up with Luke sweeping the floors at the neighborhood barbershop run by Frankie Faison’s Pop. It’s the sort of community institution where people sit around all day debating the coaching styles of Pat Riley and Phil Jackson or whether Easy Rawlins or Kenyatta was the better urban fiction hero. By night, he works as a dishwasher at Harlem’s Paradise, a nightclub with a tremendous talent booker and operated by mobster Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes (Mahershala Ali), cousin of local politician Mariah Dillard (Alfre Woodard). Immediately, we see a harsh contrast between the greedy capitalist renewal espoused by Cottonmouth and Dillard and the grassroots Harlem that Luke Cage wants to be a part of and wants to elevate. Naturally, conflict is a-brewing between the two Harlems.Like Wilson Fisk in Daredevil, Cottonmouth is a vicious, remorseless killer, but he’s also got a somewhat noble sense of how what he’s doing is good for the borough he grew up in. Cottonmouth’s ties are to family and also to the idea of legacy and the protection of a renowned family name, key details that Coker and his writers hit hard.The Marvel movies rely on outsized special effects to capture their heightened take on reality, but the Netflix shows don’t have the budget for that, so they opt for outsized thematics instead. Like Jessica Jones before it, Luke Cage is aggressively unsubtle, but it’s also aggressively smart. Sure, having Luke Cage wandering around, wearing a hoodie as an act of defiance, reading Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man feels a bit on the nose, but once you throw in the references to Walter Mosley and Donald Goines and Ta-Nehisi Coates, it becomes clear that this show doubles as a superlative summer reading list, which has value beyond computer-generated scenes of mass destruction or a really cool mocap villain.The early episodes are so charmingly brainy and move with such a light step — Paul McGuigan of Sherlock and Scandal knows his way around a flashy pilot — and the cinematography is so stylish — not surprisingly, everybody loves photographing Mike Colter — that you only sometimes realize that the things you expect to get out of a superhero show are largely missing. Luke Cage is, to his great detriment, initially much too powerful, and while he’s certainly a reluctant hero, when he actually goes to work on the bad guys, it’s pointless to try stopping him. The “Ruckus” set piece in the third episode stands out because nothing else even comes close in scope or action execution. Of the seven episodes, the one that was least successful for me, and by a wide margin, was the most comic book-y, an origin-story fourth episode that hews reasonably closely to Luke’s ’70s Marvel origins. It’s fitting that Luke would want to debate pulp and elevated pulp-fiction African-American heroes, because that’s the tradition Luke Cage operates best in, which is great if that’s what you’re looking for the show to be.Ali makes great use of a classic villain cackle, and he gives Cottonmouth a coiled, psychotic rage and disarming glimpses of reasonableness. Woodard’s Mariah is Cottonmouth’s opposite, all superficial gentility and then undercurrents of something unhinged that become more frequent. Faison and Ron Cephas Jones, as a barbershop chess wiz named (or nicknamed) Bobby Fish, offer grounded decency, and I’m enjoying what Theo Rossi is doing, skulking around the edges, as a criminal intermediary dubbed Shades. Simone Missick’s Misty Knight and Rosario Dawson’s Claire Temple are there half as proactive female leads, half as potential love interests for Luke, but sometimes are confusing reminders that Luke was mighty hung up on a deceased ex — and then on Jessica Jones — just one TV show ago and they feel like they ought to be mentioned.Just as Colter moves with purpose, Luke Cage moves with purpose, even if that purpose isn’t the same as what Civil War or Age of Ultron have led audiences to anticipate from Marvel. It’s a series infused by the conversations we’re having about race and gender and the American urban space in 2016, and it’s a series built to inspire additional conversations about black masculinity and representations of heroism in an age in which the news is too often focused on the tragic disposability of black masculinity. Luke Cage is another great staple for Marvel and its Cinematic Universe.

REVIEW: JESSICA JONES – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST
Krysten Ritter (Veronica Mars)
Mike Colter (Ringer)
Rachael Taylor (Transformers)
Erin Moriarty (The Watch)
Eka Darville (Power Rangers RPM)
Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix)
Wil Traval (Once Upon a Time)
David Tennant (Doctor Who)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Susie Abromeit (Sex Drive)
Robin Weigert (Lost)
Kieran Mulcare (The Following)
Clarke Peters (John Wick)
Colby Minifie (Nurse Jackie)
Rebecca De Mornay (The Hand That Rocks The Cradle)
Thomas Kopache (Stigmata)
Michael Siberry (Highlander: The Series)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil TV)
jessica jones poster
Marvel’s Jessica Jones announces its noir intentions from the get-go. From the slinky music and impressionistic animation of the opening credits, there’s no doubt what kind of series this is going to be, and the (naturally) hard-boiled narration of series star Krysten Ritter sets the stage for the dark, sardonic world she occupies. Thankfully, the narration can best be described as “unobtrusive.” It’s there because that’s how noir works, but the show is otherwise self-aware enough not to cling to the expectations of its genre. Sure, Jessica works behind a glass door with “Alias Investigations” typewritten across it, but this also the type of noir in which Jessica asks someone why they thinks she lives alone, and their response is, “Because people don’t like you?”
Created by Melissa Rosenberg (who put in time on shows as varied as Dexter, Birds Of Prey, and Party Of Five in addition to writing all five Twilight movies), Jessica Jones avoids a villain-of-the-week structure by having Jessica essentially work on the same case for the duration of the first season. There’s no onslaught of new superpowered (or “gifted,” in the parlance of the show) opponents for the heroine to face each episode; in fact, despite her super strength and impressive vertical leap, Jessica would strongly object to being called a heroine at all. Her brief attempt to use her powers for good resulted in her being taken under the sway of Kilgrave (David Tennant), whose mind control tactics caused her to commit a terrible crime that the show slowly teases out.
It’s his apparent return that kick-starts the action on the show. A missing college co-ed case turns out to be more complicated than Jessica initially assumes, and forces her to reconsider her distaste for heroism. Reasonably content to drink her way through her PTSD and take PI cases from high-powered attorney Jeryn Hogarth (played with admirable steely ferocity by Carrie-Anne Moss, long marooned after the Matrix movies), Jessica is soon faced with the prospect of her own responsibility for taking care of Kilgrave.
Along her ambivalent path towards heroism, she looks out for her junkie neighbor (Eka Darville), flirts with the handsome Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and slowly reconnects with her foster sister, Trish (Rachael Taylor). The show really starts to cook once Jessica and Trish start working together on the Kilgrave case. Trish, a former child star and current celebrity radio show host, is the only one who knows everything that happened to Jessica. Initially introduced as the disapproving straight arrow friend, she’s quickly revealed to be something much more interesting, despite her lack of superpowers. She’s also positioned as the moral center of the show, which proves to be vital for Jessica, who’s unsurprisingly given to a bleak pessimism.
It should be said: Jessica Jones is a deeply feminist show, all the way down to its depiction of sex, which is pointedly empowering for the women. More than that, its central conflict is its lead character struggling to maintain her agency against an abusive man. All the people in positions of power (minus Kilgrave) are women, and the story of the missing co-ed extends beyond the mystery of her disappearance. Trish is by no means content to sit on the sidelines of the action, and Hogarth seems to spend all of her time conducting important business meetings in impeccably tailored dresses and confidently seducing her assistant. Moss has a way with a withering putdown, though Ritter gets her fair share, even if the show doesn’t take full advantage of her comedic side. She’s compelling as Jessica. The slow build toward a confrontation between Kilgrave and Jessica is tensely effective, hanging over everything else she does. Tennant’s face is barely seen on camera for the first couple of episodes, but rather than make his absence seem pointed, the tactic works as a way to build up Jessica’s dread about his return.
While the series clearly takes place in the same universe as Daredevil, complete with brutal violence and punches that really land, the fight scenes themselves have a very different feel. Jessica’s too strong to lose fistfights, and she partakes in them with a weary sense of resignation that people are wasting her time trying to resolve problems this way. All of this adds up to a show that is very certain of its voice and tone. Streets are always covered with a foot of grimy snow, Jessica doesn’t own a garment that doesn’t have a hole or three in it, and every drawer or cabinet contains a bottle of booze or a pistol. A Must See