Top 10 reasons I LOVE Netflix’s Daredevil Season 3

The last time I wrote a lengthy post about a TV show was this past Summer when I wrote about Altered Carbon, which happens to be a Netflix Original Series. Well, this time it’s another series on Netflix which I’ve been a huge fan of since season 1. I’m still reeling from the announcement on Nov. 29 that Netflix had canceled Daredevil, saying ‘… we feel it best to close this chapter on a high note.’ Who knows what the real reason is, most likely it’s due to the fact that Disney is launching its own streaming service, which gives me hope that Matt Murdock and co. would find another home on Disney+ in the future.

I have to say that when my hubby and I decided to binge on Season 3 around Thanksgiving holiday, we actually almost gave up after episode 1. We thought the pacing was a bit too slow and there wasn’t much going on to keep our interest (or so we thought). But we decided to wait until the end of episode 2 to see if we want to continue. Well, before the episode ended, we were hooked once again!

Missing for months, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) reemerges a broken man, putting into question his future as both vigilante Daredevil and lawyer Matthew Murdock. But when his archenemy Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) is released from prison, Matt must choose between hiding from the world, or embracing his destiny as a hero.

I actually did a similar top 10 list for S1 of Jessica Jones, and I find some similarities to that list, though I think I rate this season higher than that one.… in fact I think it’s nothing short of magical. Anyway, without further ado…

Here’s just 10 reasons why I absolutely LOVE Daredevil Season 3:

(of course it goes without saying that this post is riddled with spoilers so if you haven’t seen S3, proceed with caution. Consider yourself warned)

1. The slow-burn, but shrewdly-written script

The season takes place months after the events of The Defenders when a building collapsed with Matt and Elektra trapped inside. Matt survived but naturally he’s pretty banged up. It’s refreshing to see that at the start of a superhero series, we don’t immediately see our hero in action. I was complaining at first about the slow pace, but in the end I appreciate the fact that the pacing gives us an in-depth look at the universe the characters live in. As the hero rethinks his purpose in Hell’s Kitchen, both as Daredevil and as his lawyer alter ego, his arch nemesis strategically puts a plan in motion even from behind bars. It’s such a shrewd setup by new showrunner Erik Oleson and his fantastic team of writers that only get better as the show progresses!

I read that Marvel TV chief Joseph Loeb envisioned Daredevil series as ‘a crime drama first, superhero show second’ from the very beginning. Season 3 definitely delivered on that vision. Oh and this season, the hero doesn’t even put on his iconic red suit at all. But it really doesn’t matter because heroism is defined by one’s action, not what a person wears.

2. The spiritual side of Matt Murdock

We all know from season 1 that Matt Murdock‘s ravaged by his Catholic guilt. I actually appreciate that the show doesn’t shy away from the hero’s deep spiritual side. In this season we see Matt doubting God and question everything he’s known and believed in. As we watch the physically-shattered and emotionally-broken hero mostly bed-ridden inside the church where he grew up, we get to know him so much more as a person. He’s a psychologically-complex and flawed hero we can relate to as opposed to an indestructible fighting machine.

There are plenty of spiritual discussions between him and Father Lantom (Scottish actor Peter McRobbie) are emotionally-charged. For all the talk about God and salvation, the dialog is not preachy because it’s organic to the character. As this season also introduced the enigmatic Sister Maggie (Joanne Whalley), there’s more of that faith dialog going on that gives us even more glimpse Matt’s psyche, if you will.

There’s also scenes between Father Lantom and Sister Maggie with Karen as she too is ravaged by sins of her past. I really appreciate those scenes as well, which bring us closer to the characters we’ve known and love.

3. The returning cast all brought their A-game

I’ve always thought the entire cast of Daredevil is immensely strong. If there’s a Best Ensemble award at the Emmys, they should at least be nominated! I actually met some of the cast at the Wizard World Chicago Comic-Con in 2016.

Charlie Cox as Daredevil, Deborah Ann Woll as the fearless Karen (more on this later), Elden Henson as the loyal Foggy and of course, the effortlessly-menacing Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk… they’re all amazing. Hard to pick a favorite among them as they work SO well together. On some shows, whenever the hero isn’t on screen, the energy level would come down a bit, but NOT on this one. The writers have made us care for each of the supporting characters that there’s a consistent dynamic and level of suspense on every episode. I enjoy the Karen or Foggy-centric episodes as much as the Matt Murdock one, and again, it’s because the script just gets better and better and drives the story forward so effectively.

4. The best arch enemy you love to hate

I don’t know about you but I feel that Wilson Fisk just gets even scarier in Season 3. Vincent D’Onofrio is such perfect casting and not only because of his massive size (it’d be interesting to see him go mano a mano with Mike Colter (Luke Cage). But I think what makes him even more frightening is his calm, observant demeanor. As huge as he is, Fisk isn’t all about brute force (though of course there are moments his rage got the best of him), but he’s more of a master manipulator who strategizes on how to up his game. As Matt and Karen would say, Fisk is often a few steps ahead of them, and he’d target the most vulnerable people he can manipulate. Once a person is ‘marked’ by him, there’s practically no escape and he’s able to infiltrate any organization for his own gain, including the FBI.

As the self-imposed ‘ruler’ of Hell’s Kitchen, Fisk is quite mesmerizing as he is menacing. He’s also quite poetic, especially when he’s waxing lyrical about his love Vanessa (Ayelet Zurer), but then he can turn into a freaky beast within seconds. I would never be the one bearing any kind of bad news to him as he’d beat you to a pulp just to release his animalistic rage.

5. Karen is the real ‘(wo)man without fear’

Now, I LOVE that the show features a woman who isn’t just a damsel in distress. Played brilliantly by Deborah Ann Woll, Karen is no femme fatale either. Yet she is beyond ruthless and in this season, she is utterly fearless that even Daredevil himself is in awe of her grand plan to go against Fisk on her own.

I love that Karen gets a dedicated episode (ep. 10) which shows her backstory when she was a drug addict. She’s been haunted by the death of her brother and here we finally knew why. Though she is now hunted by Fisk, she is still willing to risk her own life to expose the truth. I know that her ruthless-ness can also put others at risk, but I admire her sheer determination and fighting spirit that made her very much Matt’s equal. In fact, I think she is even braver than Matt as Karen doesn’t have any superpowers!

6. Terrific new cast members with compelling character arc

Three new cast members are introduced this season. I have mentioned Sister Maggie, who later on is revealed to have a crucial connection with Matt. It took me a bit of time to warm up to the lengthy dialog between Sister Maggie and Matt but as the season progressed, I appreciate them more and more.

The other two are FBI agents Ray Nadeem (Jay Ali) and Benjamin ‘Dex’ Poindexter (Wilson Bethel). Dex has a more explosive introduction while Nadeem’s intro shows him in his family home, struggling with his finances. Their paths inevitably cross with Fisk which will change their lives forever.

Both actors brought their characters to life so beautifully. Apparently Bethel was in the running for Captain America (in fact it was down to him and Chris Evans!), so he obviously has the physicality for the role as the faux Daredevil. I gotta say he looks really good in the red suit that he gives Charlie Cox a run for his money! 😉 He’s a pretty dynamic sub-villain (as Fisk’s lackey) and he’s scary as he can make anything into a weapon. I love that they show his backstory in a couple of episodes, which also makes him more than just a one-dimensional character.

All three new members were given such a strong and emotionally-resonant arc that strengthen the S3 story as a whole.

7. Ray Nadeem – not every hero needs a cape (or red suit in this case)

I feel that Jay Ali‘s Ray Nadeem deserves its own section on this list because you could say he’s the ‘man of the people’ in this season. He’s not a secret superhero (though I’d love to see Jay portray one!), but Nadeem is a family man who just wants to provide for his family and be a hero to his son Sammy. His riveting yet sensitive performance elevated every scene he’s in.

I have never seen Jay Ali in anything before, but the British actor (of Pakistani descent) has certainly got my attention. It’s nice to see such a compelling, nuanced character written for an actor of color, and not just another stereotypical role that you’ve seen time and time again in other shows.

I remember pondering most about Nadeem when I finished S3. I identify with his struggles, his pain and his conflicted emotions balancing his life as an FBI agent as a dad/husband. The look on his face when his wife rebukes him, it’s convincingly heartbreaking. He wants to make Hell’s Kitchen a safer place when he made a deal with Fisk, and by the time he realizes the Kingpin has infiltrated the agency, it’s already too late. His redemption comes at a high price, that is his own life, which makes him an unsung hero in my book.

Agent Nadeem is definitely one of the most memorable tv characters I’ve seen. Though he won’t be in the future seasons of Daredevil, I sure hope to see more of Jay Ali in more tv/film projects!

8. The loyal friends that make the hero

Speaking of unsung heroes, one thing I LOVE most about the Daredevil series is the strong bond of friendship between Matt, Karen and Foggy. There is something so genuine about how these characters interact, and this season their friendship is truly tested. Karen is especially loyal to Matt that she still pays his rent despite everyone thinking he’s been buried under a building!

In the later episode, there’s exchange between Nadeem and Matt where Nadeem talked about stepping off the path for a few weeks and it destroyed his life. Yet Daredevil steps on and off the path all the time… but his friends keep coming back. ‘How do you hold on to them?’ Nadeem asked. Matt replied ‘It’s not me. It’s them.’

Karen and Foggy love Matt so much that despite knowing his faults and his secret identity, they still stick by him. In fact, at times they even save Matt from himself. Foggy insists in bringing Fisk back to prison and prevent Matt from killing him not only because he believes in the system, but because he knew it’d destroy Matt to go against something he believes in (killing a human being). Foggy knew that he’d lose his best friend forever if he let Matt kills Fisk and that Matt wouldn’t be able to forgive himself.

I love that S3 ends on a hopeful note with Foggy proposing Nelson, Murdock and Page law office. Oh how I’d love to see the trio working together again like old times!

9. The creative ways for character development, fantastic set pieces and haunting music

One of the most effective scenes utilized in S3 is the flashback sequences that tell the backstory of some of the characters. I especially like the flashbacks of Dex as a troubled child, with Fisk observing young Dex like he’s watching a play unfolding right in front of him. It’s a really creative way for character development, to tell an origin story of a prominent character. The same style is also used when Matt is imagining Fisk is talking to him inside his head.

The set pieces of S3, particularly in the action scenes, are simply beautiful. There’s the swanky luxury hotel where Fisk is housed in, the beautiful Catholic church where Matt grew up in that became a battle ground, the claustrophobic prison scene and of course those iconic shots of Daredevil on the church rooftop next the giant cross. It’s a beautifully-shot series but it’s SO much more than style over substance. The style never overpowers the story or the characters.

I have to give kudos to composer John Paesano for the haunting and electric score which gives just the perfect sound of dread at certain moments. I remember the score playing when Agent Nadeem learned just how deep Fisk’s influence has run within the agency. Paired with Nadeem’s expression of sheer shock it gives me goosebumps!

10. The deftly-choreographed and visceral fight sequences

A great action scene is akin to a fantastic dance sequence. Some would call the fight sequences in Daredevil series a ballet of death. It’s choreographed so expertly and it works perfectly in the space it’s set in. I particularly love the church fight scene between Daredevil and Bullseye (wearing Daredevil’s red suit no less). The color scheme of this whole sequence is just so beautiful and eerie at the same time.

But of course, the fight scene everyone is talking about is the prison hallway scene. As if it wasn’t challenging enough to film it conventionally, the nearly 11-minute scene was done in a single long take, no secret cuts or CGI! You can just watch the prison fight breakdown here by the showrunner himself.

Kudos to the director, fight choreographer and of course Charlie Cox for pulling off such an amazing stunts. It’s crazy how Charlie has to do the fight scene as a blind man, too, his acting in this show is simply amazing!

cox-murdock-daredevil


Like any great roller coaster ride, I immediately felt like watching the show again as soon as I finished it. I have since rewatched parts of it, but I might rewatch the entire thing again in a few weeks as I probably have missed a bunch of details in the beginning.

Well, those are the reasons I absolutely LOVED Daredevil 3. Have you seen it? I’d love to hear what YOU think!

TV Chatter – Musings about Netflix’s ALTERED CARBON

Hello everyone! It’s been ages since I actually blogged about a TV series, but recently my hubby and I just binged on this Netflix Original Series ALTERED CARBON. As we’re waiting for Westworld Season 2 to wrap (as we prefer to binge on a series than following it week by week), we’re in the mood for a mind-bending sci-fi.

Now, the first time we watched Altered Carbon, we weren’t wowed by it. In fact, we thought it was meh. Honestly, I’m not too keen on Joel Kinnaman as the lead. He seems like a generic tall, blond hunk that’s lacking any kind of charisma while the far-more-magnetic Will Yun Lee (who’s essentially playing the same character) is relegated to a small role in flashback scenes. So it’s not until about a week later that my hubby and I decided to give this show another shot (largely because I like James Purefoy!), and by the end of episode 2, we were hooked!

ALTERED CARBON is set in a future where consciousness is digitized and stored in cortical stacks implanted in the spine, allowing humans to survive physical death by having their memories and consciousness “re-sleeved” into new bodies. The story follows specially trained “Envoy” soldier Takeshi Kovacs, who is downloaded from an off-world prison and into a combat-ready sleeve at the behest of Laurens Bancroft, a highly influential aristocrat. Bancroft was killed, and the last automatic backup of his stack was made hours before his death, leaving him with no memory of who killed him and why. While police ruled it a suicide, Bancroft is convinced he was murdered and wants Kovacs to find out the truth.

If you’re a big sci-fi fan, this show is well worth a watch. The series is based on a novel by British science fiction and fantasy author Richard K. Morgan released in 2002. In 2003, the U.S. edition received the Philip K. Dick Award (so I wonder if ppl with a middle name starting w/ a ‘K’ might be good at writing sci-fi?). The film rights for the book sold for a reported figure of $1,000,000 to film producer Joel Silver (per Wikipedia). The Netflix series’ creator Laeta Kalogridis, is one of the executive producers of many sci-fi films Avatar and Terminator Genysis, as well as TV shows (Birds of Prey and Bionic Woman).

In Wiki, there’s a quote from Morgan that I found particularly interesting… “Society is, always has been and always will be a structure for the exploitation and oppression of the majority through systems of political force dictated by an élite, enforced by thugs, uniformed or not, and upheld by a willful ignorance and stupidity on the part of the majority whom the system oppresses.”

That’s essentially is the world of Altered Carbon… set 300 years from now, in the 25th Century. It’s a rather bleak vision of our future, as well as our humanity. But my favorite sci-fi films are those that really made me think about what it really means to be human. Such as the sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner which I actually just re-watched 8 years ago and prompted me to write this post. Speaking of that film, when I first saw the pilot episode, I thought Altered Carbon is basically a rip-off of Blade Runner. But upon a second look, the story is actually very different, but just as thought provoking in that it also made you ponder what it truly means to be human.

I’m not going into details in this ‘review’ of sort, so I won’t be commenting on each episode but more about the series as a whole. Basically, I just want to talk about three aspects of the series… and what I think of the ending [obviously SPOILER territory).

The Premise 

I’m often intrigued to check out a brand new show because of the filmmaker or cast. But in the case of Altered Carbon, where there’s really no major stars in it, I was drawn by its premise. As I already mentioned above, I LOVE sci-fi films that analyze and explore our humanity in a creative way. I mentioned Blade Runner above which is about engineered droids that look and behave like humans that it’s tough to tell them apart. Altered Carbon deals with something just as eerie (if not more so), that is, digitizing the soul.

The show also has a procedural element that actually is a more typical whodunnit story, but it’s this mind-bending scifi concept that kept my interest. According to IMDb, this was originally going to be adapted as a film, but the original book’s 26th century universe was too dense to be contained into two hours. I think the story that’s wise as there are indeed SO many interesting to explore from the book that would get oversimplified (read: dumbed down) in a 2-hour film.

I find the very idea of storing one’s consciousness into a chip (stack) that can be placed into another body is extremely fascinating, unsettling and terrifying all at the same time. Does it mean one’s soul, one’s memories, basically everything about who we are as a human being, is no longer attached to our physical bodies? Many Christians have asked this question… when those who believe in Heaven die and enter God’s Kingdom, will they have a spirit body or a physical body? But in this futuristic world, there are two kinds of deaths… the sleeve death (when the fatal blow only affects the body but not the mind, so the stack still intact) and real death (when the body and stack is destroyed).

This is one of those shows where you need a cheat sheet to understand. I didn’t read it until after I finished season 1, but still helpful to read it after. Y’know the expression ‘walk a mile in her shoes’? Well, this goes many steps further that one can essentially live one’s life in an entirely different form. You could be an elderly white man in a body of a black female teen, or in the case of this show, a Hispanic grandma in a body of a big, bald, heavily-tattooed white man. It sounds cool of course, as how many of us haven’t dreamed of looking like someone else for a day? But on the show, if one is re-sleeved too many times, that person will go insane (the mind rebels, the personality gets fragmented). And that’s why the ultra rich (the Meths as they’re called on the show) would clone themselves many times so they can basically be immortal as their sleeve remains a certain age forever.

The Visuals

The reality in Altered Carbon universe is reminiscent of Blade Runner, even more so in the sequel, BR 2049. In the 25th century, supposedly there are pulsating 3D ads, prostitute holograms and super sleek flying cop cars. Heck even the police station looks state of the art, so obviously they get their funding from the Meths!

The visuals are quite stunning. Set in what’s formerly San Francisco, it’s all pops of neon lights and gritty streets, though they still look too ‘clean’ to me that it’s obviously a set. Shot in Vancouver, by cinematographer Neville Kidd, it looks properly futuristic noir.

It’s no surprise that Kidd was the cinematographer behind Benedict Cumberbatch’s gorgeous Sherlock as well as Outlander for Starz. I think he ups the ante in this scifi dystopia world and scifi geeks like me constantly gawk at the cool set pieces. I mean Bancroft’s mansion is magnificently opulent and the state-of-the-art Raven Hotel (with its hidden weaponry) is practically a character in itself.

In season 7 though, it’s nice to get a bit of respite from all that neon city to a lush forest where we get the backstory of Kovacs’ life with his Envoy group. There’s also a super cool looking interrogation room in that episode.

So yeah, this show is visually ambitious and one reviewer even said every shot seems to have been tailored for the One Perfect Shot Twitter account, ha!

The Characters

I LOVE reading articles about the show that breaks down the terminology in Altered Carbon universe. My hubby sent me this one from Thrillist explores some of the questions posed by the show. I found this interview with a neuroscientist about consciousness, memory, and what makes us who we are. This comprehensive article clearly spells out who’s who on the show. Really fascinating stuff!

I also like how diverse the show is. Though it’s improved over the years, it’s still quite rare to see Asian actors in US shows these days. So I’m thrilled to see Korean-American actors Will Yun Lee in a prominent role, as well as Hong Kong-American actor Byron Mann whom I’ve seen in a bunch of shows. Nice to see a Latina actress playing a prominent part as well which celebrates her heritage. Given the nature of the ‘sleeves’ the color of one’s skin doesn’t really matter in this universe, which gives an opportunity for diverse casting and interracial relationships.

I have to say that despite how I initially feel about Joel Kinnaman, his character Takeshi Kovacs is captivating. I was thinking perhaps if we have someone like say, Tom Hardy, the show be a heck of a lot more watchable. But hey, Joel kinda grew on me the more I watched it and the concept of the character itself was enough to hook me. Having seen Joel in RoboCop and Suicide Squad, the Swedish actor seems to have been typecast of sort in sci-fi projects. He looked ultra ripped on this show, he’s basically shirtless 80% of the time here even when he’s not doing the sex scenes! I wish he had more range though, he’s basically just all morose and sulky though I have to admit he can be pretty tender in the romantic scenes.

Speaking of ripped, I really wish they had given more screen time to Will Yun Lee who not only looked amazing physically, but he’s also got this quiet grace and soulful charisma. I’m glad he’s basically the lead in episode 7 as it plays out in flashbacks of his life as an elite soldier (called the Envoy). I like the relationship between Kovacs and the fierce Envoy leader Quell Falconer (Renée Elise Goldsberry), which is supposed to be the heart and soul of the show but it left me wanting more. Also, it’d have been cool to see the two ‘lives’ of the protagonist and contrast the two. [SPOILER: highlight to read] Given its trippy nature, why not have the two Kovacs (the original AND the new sleeve) intersect more somehow or maybe have Joel and Will meet and even fight each other?? That’d have been so trippy cool!

James Purefoy is nicely cast as Laurens Bancroft, perhaps the wealthiest of the Meths, who are so powerful they can afford endless backups and self cloning to live forever. The character is a reference to Methuselah, a biblical patriarch and a figure in Judaism and Christianity who’ve lived the longest of everyone in the Hebrew Bible at the age of 969.

The whole Bancroft storyline and their relationship with Kovacs held some interest at first, but after a while it gets less and less intriguing. I didn’t care for the affair between Kovacs and Bancroft’s seductive wife (Kristin Lehman). Even the gratuitous sex scene was ho-hum, and the father/son bit in this dysfunctional ‘family’ (they had 21 children!!) is meh as well. Laurens is an intriguing character on paper, and there’s a particular scene with a big crowd that utilizes Purefoy’s acting talent, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near his best role. He’s much more captivating in HBO’s ROME and fans of Mr. Purefoy would be happy to see he sort of um, re-enacted his famous nude scene from that show 😉

I have to say that one of my favorite character is Poe! A centuries ­old, highly ­evolved AI who is currently inhabiting the psyche of Edgar Allan Poe and runs the luxury, well-equipped hotel The Raven (natch!) which Kovacs often hangs out at. I was certain the actor who played him is a Brit (I usually have a good hunch about this) but Chris Conner is actually from New Mexico! I enjoy all the scenes with Poe in it, he’s kind of like Q in Bond movies but with a more biting wit and distinguished sense of style.

Like Kinnaman, it took me a while to warm up to Martha Higareda who played Detective Kristin Ortega. She seems to overact a bit in the pilot in the way she abhorred Kovacs. But I love that the show explored her Mexican heritage in her character, there’s even an extensive scene of her celebrating Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with her very-Catholic family. Her mother is especially devout and opposes the re-sleeving after the original sleeve/body dies. I thought that the whole discussion around the dinner table reveals the core message of the show’s concept and discusses what it means to ‘play God’ and messing with the nature of humanity. As the show progresses, Ortega’s character trajectory gets more interesting and we find out just why she despises Kovacs. It’s kind of predictable but there’s one particular scene between them that tugs my heart strings.

The last character that’s worth talking about is Reileen Kawahara (Dichen Lachman). I can’t talk about it without going into SPOILER territory however… so highlight to read: I was quite flabbergasted to learn Reileen is Kovacs’ sister but I guess the show has sort of hinted at it with the scenes of the two Asian siblings. At first I thought it was brilliant but it quickly descend into sentimental melodrama mixed with absolutely preposterous and hyper violent fight scenes! 

I had seen Dichen in the indie drama Too Late a few years ago and the Australian actress sure is talented. Hope she gets her own show one day, maybe together with Will Yun Lee? 😉

I have to mention briefly about Ortega’s mentor Samir Abboud (Waleed Zuaiter) who didn’t have much screen time but still memorable.

The rest of the characters aren’t all that memorable. I think my least favorite character is Lizzie Elliot, whose subplot is the most boring and has least consequence to the whole story. I was amused by her mom Ava, a Black woman sleeved in a pale, redhead white male.

How about that ending?

While the show already suffered too many plots in a single season, the finale is even more egregious in trying to solve too many puzzles in a single episode! I really think the formulaic whodunnit of ‘who killed Bancroft’ plot could’ve been resolved in the episode before that, so we could focus more on Kovacs’ story and his relationships. They’re treating it like the ‘who killed JR?’ in Dallas when in fact it’s lacking any emotional resonance. Honestly, I don’t really care who killed him as he’s not that sympathetic, nor interesting, character.  SPOILER – highlight to read: I honestly couldn’t care less about the father/daughter story of Vernon and Lizzie. It’s just boring and even silly at times, which makes Lizzie’s appearance as the ‘unlikely hero’ in the end even more pointless and irritating.

I don’t know what the budget of the show is but I bet a lot of it goes to the Head in the Cloud (aka flying brothel) set. But again, the ending veers into too much melodrama even with the intense fight scenes. SPOILER – highlight to read: The slo-mo of the entire floating house crashing down is so operatic but lacking any emotional gravitas. At this point I was also worn out by the brother & sister love/hate relationship. I feel like the show doesn’t know what to make of Reileen, the Puppet Master. Yes she seems to truly love her brother and she desperately wants to find him. But at what cost? One take away I get from Takeshi and Rei is that some people just don’t know how to love.

The parting of Kovacs and Ortega could’ve a more emotional depth, but it felt too abrupt to me. I do like the final shot of the original Kovacs with the love of his life Quell, which again, is the heart of the film for me.

A more focused plot with less balls in the air would’ve made a more arresting finale.

In Summary

It’s also one of the most violent and sexually explicit show I’ve seen. Yes granted I haven’t seen Game of Thrones yet, but a colleague who’s seen both actually said Altered Carbon is often more violent and sexually vulgar than that show! I mentioned how Joel Kinnaman is practically shirtless 80% of the time but the women had it worse. I also have issues with how much violence are directed at women here which is disappointing since it’s show-runner is a woman. In fact, this could’ve been the most expensive show done by a female creator, perhaps even more than Westworld which has a woman as its co-creator.

At times the nudity becomes almost cartoonish and all out ludicrous. From violent aerial fight-to-the-death, MMA style, Kung Fu, to nude sword fights, there’s every kind of intense fight scenes under the sun on this show. The fight scenes are well-choreographed but definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. I had to look away during most of the fight scenes, but especially the torture scenes in episode 4. It’s virtual torture but still tough to watch.

Overall though, I’m glad I gave this cyberpunk series another shot and it’s one I actually still think about, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered with this extensive post! But the series’ biggest weakness is the everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink approach, cramming way too many plots in a single season. After every episode, I feel dizzy with information overload as the plot gets more and more unnecessarily convoluted. Some of the subplots are less interesting than others, in fact, some are quite irritating as they don’t seem to tie in well with the storyline we actually care about.

Will there be Season 2? I haven’t heard news about that yet but I’m only tentatively interested. Maybe if Will Yun Lee is back then I’ll be more enthused. We shall see, but I’m not clamoring for it at this point.


Well, have you seen Altered Carbon? I’d love to hear what YOU think!

Weekend Roundup: Netflix’s Daredevil + MSPIFF 2015 Reviews: Secrets of War & The Dinkytown Uprising

Happy Monday everyone!

So it’s been a pretty packed weekend for me but thankfully the weather is practically Summer-like, which definitely adds an extra spring in my step. It’s the opening weekend of MSPIFF too, so I’ve watched a couple of films including Clouds of Sils Maria which was nominated for a Cannes’ Palme d’Or and a Best Supporting Actress win for Kristen Stewart. My review of it will be up tomorrow, but today we have two film fest reviews from Josh. But before we get to that, I just want to give my brief thoughts on Netflix Original Series Daredevil that premiered this weekend:
NetflixDaredevilI actually never saw the Ben Affleck version, but even from the trailer/clips I could surmise that it’s awful indeed. I have to admit that initially I was skeptical of Charlie Cox casting, as he’s such a cute face, and that isn’t exactly a glowing recommendation when you want to play a bad-ass vigilante. But y’know what, right from the get go, my doubts were erased. The British actor is quite convincing both as the blind lawyer + the vigilante.

My hubby & I have only seen 4/13 episodes so far but boy, this is definitely NOT a PG-rated Marvel adaptation. The words ‘dark & gritty’ have been used to describe a lot of stuff but it’s definitely no hyperbole when it comes to this show. In fact, it’s hyper-violent and bloody, I had to avert my eyes during the last 5 minutes of episode 4! But I like the meticulous & slo-burn pacing, the benefit of releasing all the episodes at once is that each episode doesn’t have to be ‘all-action-all-the-time’ and we actually get some character development by showing flashbacks of Matt Murdoch’s past, as well as more time with the secondary characters such as Matt’s BFF & partner in law Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson). They also have two strong female characters, Karen & Claire (Deborah Ann Woll & Rosario Dawson, respectively). I like both of them in the role, especially Dawson who’s always effortlessly appealing. But one thing for sure, people who love R-rated action and fantastically-choreographed fight scenes would NOT be disappointed.

So in short, I’ll definitely keep watching! I might do a review once we get through all 13 episodes. How about you? Did you see it?


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Secrets of War (Oorlogsgeheimen)

SecretsofWarFusing two well-known stories and thereby hitting dual-genre notes, Secrets of War is a quality picture. The first, and more successful, of the film’s two stories: the ways a friendship between two newly-adolescent Dutch boys, Tuur (Maas Bronkhuyzen) and Lambert (Joes Brauers), is tested, first by a girl, Maartje (Pippa Allen), they both like, and then by World War Two, something neither child initially understands. The second story, an anti-war treatise, is slightly less successful than the first, but it still relates the ways war tears apart uninvolved lives. 

All three young actors are very good, especially Allen who convincingly shows us her secrets long before the screenplay has her tell them to us. But Secrets of War’s scene stealer is Loek Peters, who plays Tuur’s father. Peters (and the other grown-ups in Tuur’s family) is the vehicle through which director Dennis Bots and writer Karin van Holst Pellekaan show the tragedies of World War Two, but they never let him speak all that much, which means he has to communicate the gravity of the situation non-verbally. Thankfully, he does just that.

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Pellekaan’s screenplay and Bots’ direction is excellent for the first three-fourths of film, but it slips a little in the final act, when events are rushed, perhaps in an effort to speed to conclusion. A slower, more character-driven approach to the finale would have cemented the picture’s emotion and thereby helped deliver its themes.

The missteps near the end of Secrets of War do not ruin the film, however. It is still well worth viewing.

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The Dinkytown Uprising 

A documentary about a lengthy 1970’s neighborhood protest against a Red Barn fast-food restaurant entering a beloved Minneapolis community, The Dinkytown Uprising is interesting and entertaining. Interspersing modern interviews of former protestors with on-the-scene 1970 video showing the actual rallies, the film effectively informs the viewer about the protests, the protestors, and their links to the Vietnam War. It makes us care about each of the protestors, as well, ensuring that we remain interested throughout.

DinkytownUprising2 The Dinkytown Uprising is, in other words, a good film.

But it isn’t perfect, mostly because director Al Milgrom’s secondary goal is to connect the 1970 Dinkytown protests with modern efforts to preserve the historic neighborhood. More than that, it seems Milgrom wants us to agree that the neighborhood should be protected. Here he stumbles, mostly because he never draws a direct link between the picture’s informative intent and its persuasive efforts. The director might have benefited from a closer look at larger corporations’ modern efforts to enter the neighborhood. Given that he doesn’t do so, the few times he intimates concern for the community, it feels out of place with the rest of the film’s content.

DinkytownUprising1Still, while this flaw is significant, it is not debilitating. The skill with which Milgrom combines interviews, narration, and found footage is impressive. And overall, his picture succeeds.

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So what did you watch this weekend? Thoughts on Daredevil or any of these films?