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Featured Marvel TV Show

The Punisher – Nothing but a masterpiece

The Punisher. Credits: Netflix

 

 

Let me start off with how I felt when Frank Castle was first introduced back in Marvel’s Daredevil season 2. He seemed like a moron with a gun, a complete daft. I was quite sceptical about the violence. It felt unnecessarily over the top. Well as of today, I stand corrected. I have never been so glad to have been proved so utterly and absolutely wrong. Jon Bernthal is the man, carrying the whole season away on his shoulders. What a masterpiece! The series gets engaging from the very first scene which is unlike the other Marvel and Netflix series where they normally take 3-4 episodes to build up the momentum. The titular soundtrack is just as badass as The Punisher and I’m already addicted to it.

 

A stockpile of guns forming up the skull logo of Punisher. Credits: Netflix

 

There is this scene where one of the antagonists, Lewis Walcott,  sets free a pair of caged birds but they don’t move an inch. They don’t take a step away from that cage. The scene is beautiful and deeply metaphorical. They chose their hell, they’ve been there so long that flying seems abnormal to them. Freedom seems unnatural! This is what makes the show so special. The Punisher serves justice in his own way, almost divine vengeance you can say.

 

Lewis Walcott trying to free some caged birds. Credits: Netflix

 

In the end, we see the antagonists punished in a way they deserved, like one of the antagonists dying because of one of his own bombs or betrayer Billy Russo’s pretty face (his only weakness) being disfigured once and for all. Billy Russo is introduced to us as a retired Marine making it big back in American soil as a private security contractor. He is handsome, well dressed, rich, and famous among women. He has everything he had ever dreamed of and goes to extreme extents to protect what he’s achieved, till date. What I take from the show is that Frank Castle is not a cold-blooded murder but a human with a conscience who has suffered a lot.

 

Curtis Hoyle and Billy Russo. Credits: Netflix

 

Frank Castle in Kandahar, Afghanistan in a secret op. Credits: Netflix

 

So the show deals with the aftermath of wars, very gently with care. Wars are real, the troubles, the mess, the deaths are real. The apparent ‘lucky’ soldiers returning home are damaged and scarred for life. For these people, the line between right and wrong is blurred. So, The Punisher puts forward very important questions. How far would you go for your country? Would you sacrifice your conscience and sanity? Are you ready to blurred out all the lines?

At one point Frank starts to hallucinate while being tortured. He sees his wife and they’re having a happy life but the background (which signifies his hallucination) is all black unlike in his nightmares in the past which took place in his house. All of this happens inside his head but it makes me wish badly that it were true, all of it. I feel terrible for Frank, I sympathize with his pain when I realize that memories are all that he is left with.

 

Frank Castle with his wife, in his hallucinatory dreams. Credits: Netflix

 

Of course, the story has its flaws and it does start to get a little haywire at times, like when Castle taking the shittiest of beatings but still bounces back, slaying like a Bollywood hero. I enjoyed the most when Frank had some light, happy moments with his friend and partner in crime, David Lieberman. I remember being so glad when I saw this man smile.

 

David Lieberman (Micro) and Frank Castle. Credits: Netflix

At times, when he needed to get stitched up, I prayed and prayed for the whiny Claire Temple not to show up and thankfully she never did. Karen Page was, however, the real shit magnet this time. I was hoping Matt Murdock would appear at least in one of the scenes but he never did and I must say I’m disappointed. I had heard a lot of criticism about the Punisher’s physique and height before the show but in my opinion, the casting is perfect. The leaner, the better in a fight and mostly, his weapon is a gun. What’s height got to do with it, anyway? The budding romance between Karen Page and Frank Castle seems to be interesting because I want to see how they’ll make it work. Alas! They couldn’t use a brilliant character like Dinah Madani to her full potential which I hope they improve on, next time.

 

Karen Page and Frank. Credits: Netflix

 

Dinah Madani and Sam Stein. Credits: Netflix

The director’s done a good job and The Punisher is my favourite Marvel show right after Daredevil. Hopefully, it gets renewed for a second season soon.

 

Did you like Marvel Netflix’s The Punisher? Tell us in the comments.

Categories
DCcomics Featured Movies

Justice League – A movie about what could have been [No Spoiler Review]

 

Zack Snyder’s Justice League is Warner Bros’ first attempt at a superhero team up movie based on the DC Comics characters. This League, and Superheroes in general, has come a long way since its first appearance in DC Comics’ Brave and the Bold (1960).

    This is supposed to be the biggest movie based on DC Comics’ characters.

Justice League is a movie about its heroes. From the beginning, we are introduced to a world without Superman. From Lois Lane to Bruce Wayne, all feel the loss of Superman in a major way. It seems that the world is without hope – the symbol of the Last Son of Krypton. The opening few minutes of the movie is well shot with classic slow motion sequences and low light scenes, a style which is now synonymous with Zack Snyder. Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows, performed by Sigrid, plays in the background.

Parademons and Steppenwolf. Credits: Justice League

As the plot thickens, we are introduced to the threat of the otherworldly Parademons, and their general – Steppenwolf. Batman and Wonder Woman feel the necessity of gathering the other ‘metahumans’ as teased in the movie Batman V Superman. From here onwards, we meet The Flash, Cyborg and the Aquaman.

Ezra Miller as Barry Allen/The Flash
Ray Fisher as Victor Stone/Cyborg

Ezra Miller as the Flash, is the comic relief of the movie. With complaints about the DCEU being all dark and grim, Flash provides some hilarious gags but a few times, the jokes felt plain and force-fed. Jason Momoa as the Aquaman, is a tough cookie. He makes sure that the League understands that he is special and is not to be meddled with. Ray Fisher’s Cyborg provides the emotional bond in the league as well as the tech support. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman leads the team, and continues her hit run from the solo movie.

Jason Momoa as Arthur Curry/Aquaman

 

Some of the action sequences are brilliant with Steppenwolf squaring against the Amazons, being a notable one. The soundtracks are good but not as brilliant as the modern master Hans Zimmer. Composer Danny Elfman manages to bring his classic Batman theme as well as John William’s Superman tracks to beautiful effect. But one stills laments over the lack of a perfect theme score for the League as a whole.

Now coming to Superman, there is not much to tell about him without spoiling. Comic book readers may be disappointed at the manner of his return, but Henry Cavill does a brilliant job in his short time. This movie shows the full might of Superman, after taking some heavy blows from Batman and Doomsday in BvS. One seriously underdeveloped character in this movie is the villainous Steppenwolf. His intentions or actions aren’t explained properly, and his only claim to fame is namedropping his nephew – the tyrant ruler of Apokolips.

Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds)

 

Now let’s come to the faults. Justice League is a let down on many fronts but one glaring flaw is the editing. The movie credits 3 person – David Brenner, Richard Pearson and Martin Walsh – for editing the movie, which feels disjointed and rushed. Multiple scenes from the trailers were absent. This is the third time, this has happened to this franchise after Batman v Superman and the disastrous Suicide Squad. Jos Whedon’s reshoots were apparent in a movie which provided unnecessary comic relief in tense moments instead of character development. Though the screenplay was tight, the dialogue seemed pedestrian. Overall, I felt the movie can be summed in one word – Rushed.

 

As this movie looked to undo the errors created in the first few movies, the studio chose an expendable villain to mount a weak challenge against our heroes. This movie is thus a collection of what it could have been rather than what it is.

Justice League

Did you like Justice League? Tell us in the comments below.

Categories
Featured Marvel

Thor : Ragnarok [NO SPOILERS] Review – Zapping back to its rightful throne in the MCU

Note: This is a non-spoiler review. Some plot points and characters may be discussed but no major spoilers will be referenced.
Exclusive First Look Photos of Thor: Ragnarok (Courtesy : Entertainment Weekly)

Exciting, funny, and above all fun, Thor: Ragnarok is a colorful cosmic adventure that sets a new standard for its franchise — and the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

– Critics Consensus, Rotten Tomatoes

The third installment of the Thor trilogy in Marvel Cinematic Universe, released on 3rd November, worldwide, received a staggering 93% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.2/10 on IMDb and reached a rumbling $164 million on opening weekend, worldwide. Directed by Taika Waititi, starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Cate Blanchett (Hela), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Anthony Hopkins (Odin), Jeff Goldblum (Grandmaster), Karl Urban (Skurge) and Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie #142); “Thor : Ragnarok” is a Norse-mythology infused galactic roller-coaster ride inside a discothèque – which inspite of mixing odd comedy and perfectly timed background score with gripping action sequences – surprisingly managed pretty well to deliver the much promised finality.

From Left to Right : Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, Jeff Goldblum and Cate Blanchett (Courtesy : Marvel Studios)

For noobs, “Thor : Ragnarok” is set two years after the events of “Avengers : Age of Ultron“. Hela, the Goddess of Death, an ancient enemy of Asgard, has returned. And upon engagement, broke Thor’s mighty hammer Mjölnir and are sent to the wasteland planet, Sakaar, where Thor gets captured. Imprisoned, he finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest, run by the Grandmaster, against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival, unlock his inner strength, gather up forces, make appeasements with his adopted brother and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization and bring upon the prophesized Ragnarok – the end of all worlds.

Thor possibly unlocking Odinforce after he lets go of Mjölnir and unleashes his inner power of the Thunder God (Courtesy : Thor : Ragnarok Final International trailer, YouTube)

Chris Hemsworth portrays his best Thor so far and has redefined the mythical, alien, comic superhero format that we know of, even without his goldilocks and hammer. The actor pushed his own boundaries to deliver biting humour and charming Aussie-baritone. Tom Hiddleston’s Loki in this movie has been the nicest Loki so far out and he yet again proves that whether its a senile, mischievous baddie or a deprived, predictive prince and brother, he always hits the right spot in performance. Complaints are with Cate Blanchett’s Hela, inspite of her being stellar and captivating, the lack of enough screen time for her character development left a mark in every fan’s heart, as she had been one of the best MCU villains so far, thus almost doing justice to female MCU villains. Mark Ruffalo’s Banner was a fish out of the water but his Hulk motion captures were “smashing”. Finally, a talking Hulk! And he’s really adorable too.

Team Revengers [Hulk, Thor, Valkyrie #142 and Loki prep up to fight the vicious Hela on the Rainbow Bridge] (Courtesy : Thor – Ragnarok International trailer #3/YouTube/Marvel Studios)
The rest of the cast was pretty neat too – Jeff Goldblum’s zany Grandmaster; Karl Urban’s blunt but brave Skurge, Tessa Thompson’s badass Valkyrie #142 with a redemption arc of a forgotten, alcoholic noble warrior; Idris Elba’s Heimdall “the saviour” and Anthony Hopkin’s best Odin performance, till date, as he enacts the most touching scene of the movie. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch reprises his role as Doctor Stephen Strange, for a short span on-screen, yet manages to maintain that aura and supremacy around Thor, as he aids him on Earth.

Cate Blanchett as Hela against the legion of Valkyrie. The scene looks almost like a highly-detailed Greek mural. (Courtesy : Thor – Ragnarok teaser trailer/YouTube/Marvel Studios)

Kiwi director Taika Waititi, whose credits include the flat-out brilliant vampire spoof “What We Do in the Shadows”, is responsible for the film’s wacked out comedic tone and especially for giving it a distinct voice and personality, literally, as he himself voiced the character of Korg. He just didn’t add a ton of characters into a CGI-doped blender, instead, delivered an enthusiastic, hilarious reboot of the idea of how diverse yet fun a Marvel movie can be.
Cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe did a fantastic job with the overall appeal of each scene. There are shots in this movie that would make for some high quality Greek murals. From Jack Kirby’s comic pages and previous magnificent renditions of Asgard in Thor films to the retro-futuristic Sakaar, the film made sure that each location made a prominent impact to the eyes.
The action scenes are so massively extravagant and captivating that it had to be paired with the iconic Led Zeppelin‘s – The Immigrant Song, in order to boost up our adrenaline to pointbreak. From the Marvel logo transitioning into the fires of Muspelheim to the slow-mo captures of defeated Asgardian warriors, the film makes up in editing what it lacks in strong character development of its main characters.

“I was really excited when Kevin [Feige] and the rest of Marvel jumped on board with the idea to use Kirby as a big influence in the design of the film. What’s really hard is staying authentic” : Taika Waititi on an interview (Courtesy : MCU Exchange)
The 3D aspect of this movie is almost as captivating as “Doctor Strange” and “Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2“. And the high budget Marvel CGI really pays off. Especially the ‘talking’ and childishly arrogant Hulk, in a bath-towel. Other creatures like Surtur, Korg, Meek and Fenris – the wolf, are beautifully designed too. And who’d forget the “sparkles” on Thor as the God of Thunder redeems himself and unlocks his hidden power, as he goes to strike down Hela! Man, that was a brilliant spectacle even in the trailers! Overall, the CGI doesn’t look bland but pairs well with the heavily toned performances of the actors on-screen and the laugh-out-loud humour.

“Yeah…same. Hulk like fire, Thor like water…” Mark Ruffalo’s computer-generated Hulk is a win-win (Courtesy : Marvel Studios)

After “Captain America : Civil War“, “Thor : Ragnarok” is next in line to have the best original score for its entire movie. The background score, at times, is so involving that it inspires you to pay attention even in the most narrative and explanatory scenes. It excels in hyping up the anticipation as well as provides comedic humour by going dead silent at times. It mixes previous MCU scores of the two Thor movies, with some 80’s retro-disco themes and some Led Zeppelin thrown in there for good measure.

In addition to being included in the trailer for Thor: Ragnarok, Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” is used in the film itself (Courtesy : Atlantic Records)

Besides the tons of easter eggs, references and MCU callbacks, Marvel doesn’t yet fail again to provide with a obligatory Stan Lee cameo (probably the best one ever) as well as two credit scenes. One of which sets up the tone and menacing threat of the upcoming “Avengers : Infinity War“. There are also surprising cameos from Matt Damon, Luke Hemsworth and Sam Neill. Trivia – Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum reunited after 13 years in this movie, since Jurassic Park and two Hemsworths portrays the role of Thor. That’s one of the many short candies there for movie-watchers to find.

Taika Waititi had to do little to no convincing in order to bring these stars on-board for short cameos in Thor : Ragnarok (Courtesy : Quora)

To summarise, “Thor : Ragnarok”, unlike its last two instalments, feels more like a action comedy superhero flick punched with tons of meta-commentary than a chapter on Norse mythology. In spite of Marvel’s big-budget, PG 13, low stakes monotonicity; superhero saturation, lack of enough screen time for character development, hard to miss scriptural loopholes and logical flaws, Waititi succeeds to deliver a fun-to-watch, colour capped, superhero movie with 3 distinct protagonists, each with a personality and struggle of its own. That’s no small feat, given that many directors left midway as they were not given enough freedom for their vision to unfold. But with filmmakers like Waititi, Gunn and Ryan Coogler (“Black Panther”), Marvel is entering a phase where it learns to embrace its directors individualistic voices instead of aiming for the sky. And we can only hope for the best yet to arrive.

My verdict – 4.6/5