Jessica Jones season two: Krysten Ritter’s titular anti-hero returns

Season two of Jessica Jones was long-awaited and highly-anticipated because series one wasn’t only a masterclass in how to make good TV, it introduced us to a new, undeniably likeable superhero. An anti-hero of sorts. Jessica Jones; a PI with a past, superhuman strength and a penchant for whisky. Jess is smart, witty, stubborn and vulnerable and although incredibly special, she was also introduced to us as exceptionally relatable. We got to know Jess over 13 carefully crafted episodes of Netflix genius, and she quickly became a bona fide small-screen favourite. While season two has been met with just a smattering of the same acclaim its predecessor received, our hero is still back, and the importance of the show shouldn’t escape our notice.

Without too much analysis, Jess is just a totally likeable, completely bad ass protagonist. Her apparent unwillingness to be a textbook hero is what endears us to her more. Delving in deeper, Jess is a brilliantly written example of a contemporary feminist whose narrative background – and genre in which she’s placed – allows women and men to enjoy the series without feeling alienated by in-your-face feminism. This is in itself is a true triumph of the series.

The joy in watching Jessica Jones is in the character Krysten Ritter has created. Jones might just be the best new TV lead we’ve seen in some time and Ritter shows herself as not only a tremendous talent, but as an important part in the evolution of female roles found on the big and small screen (another recent example being Gal Gadot’s fantastic Wonder Woman). Whether or not season two lived up to our high expectations, Jessica Jones is an incredibly important character during a time of vital change in the entertainment industry. Jess is an unconventional – but key – advocate for the importance of strong women being highlighted, celebrated and not defeated by their (usually) male foes. Strong, troubled women have been seen on screen since the dawn of cinema but never quite like this. Often shown to need rescuing by others, female roles were initially one-dimensional but are now multi-faceted. Here, Jones rescues herself with her own unique strength (and not just the physical kind).

So, let’s not all jump at once to point out the apparent lack of brilliance season two of Jessica Jones brought. Instead, lets praise the exceptional writing, the inimitable performance of Ritter (an entirely underrated actress), and the team of talented women behind the lens. By the time series three comes around, I suspect many more female heroes will be given the praise they most definitely deserve.

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Deadpool, review

Superhero movies continue to evolve and as they evolve they begin to break the conventions of the genre. Tim Miller’s Deadpool has already cemented itself as a startlingly impressive foray into the Marvel universe. Stylish and gritty, with a crisp humour that will have you crying with laughter, the director has adapted the comic book for an adult audience – and one which might have never thought Marvel could be so appealing. With a sensational cast and a textured script that acknowledges possible cliches as much as it plays with them, Deadpool is a success story among an array of superhero movies that have the capacity to disappoint as much as they impress.

In Deadpool we are situated with Wade Wilson. An involuntary hero in the making, Wade takes us on a journey of love, illness and a mutation that makes him a member of the beloved X-Men. Old Wade isn’t keen on the do-good hero image that comes with being a bad-ass vigilante and so he embarks on killing his foes in the most violent way possible. The brilliance in the narrative is in the twisted authorship of the films creative team who took on the task of adapting this well-liked story; from Miller’s suave directing and slick pacing to Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick’s script, which balances the hilarious with the moving damn near perfectly. With not one drawn-out action sequence, questionable effect or missed joke, there’s plenty to applaud and not much to fault.

ryan reynolds and brianna hidlebrand in deadpool

ryan reynolds and brianna hidlebrand in deadpool

The ensemble is a dream, too. Ed Skrein, whose career in film is on the rise, adopts the role of villain Ajax just right, appropriately menacing without the corny asides of many antagonists of the genre, while Morena Baccarin, Gina Carano, Leslie Uggams and more all dutifully support. The star in this gleaming unit is, of course, Ryan Reynolds. As Wade Reynolds portrays sexiness and vulnerability, traits that will attract a female audience, as Deadpool the actor transforms himself into a leading man to fall for completely; he’s obscene enough for the male audience to side with but the lines of believable masculinity are never blurred (a questionable theme in any male-driven film) and by the end you’re kind of wishing he was your pal – the type you never take home to mum.

Deadpool is a smart, sharp and entirely witty comic-book adaptation that will convert the naysayers as much as it will please the fans. Without the casting of Ryan Reynolds – an actor whose talents have been questioned more than once – this wicked superhero flick wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it really, truly is. With its intelligent use of the fourth-wall and an offensive script that will make you laugh as much as it makes you think, Deadpool is an exemplary Marvel movie – the rest should surely follow.

The Amazing Spider Man 2, review

2012 saw the return of Spider Man, a character so well-known in both literature and film that this new franchise held the heavy task of renewing the series as both original and still riveting enough to keep those watching come back time and again. This years (simply titled) The Amazing Spider Man 2 is the fifth filmic version of Mr Spidey, and the adventures, or perhaps more appropriately mishaps he gets into. Starring the kooky, quirky, and wonderfully awkward Andrew Garfield as the protagonist of the title, Peter Parker, Emma Stone as his girlfriend Gwen Stacy and the loveable Sally Field as Peter’s Aunt May. In this new feature we follow Spidey after his high-school graduation, as he begins a life of full-time crime-fighting against Oscorp created enemies. Expect antagonists galore (of course), and lots of over-the-top CGI to feast your eyes on.

Dane DeHaan starts in this second film and boy does he had a touch of cool to it. Playing villain Harry Osborn DeHaan channels ignorance and youth realistically, presenting Harry as someone not only struck by grief, but as someone dealing with anger and also terror, at the disease that will kill him. Unfortunately (and this is no fault of DeHaan’s) when he transforms into the Green Goblin his character becomes slightly doltish, and its impossible to find him terrifying, or even ominous, which feels as though was the intention. Director Marc Webb has changed the formula of this new franchise enough from the previous (with more comedic moments and less grit) but the cliches of this genre cant seem to be escaped.

promotional poster for the amazing spider man 2

promotional poster for the amazing spider man 2

There are two or three wonderful stand-out moments of awe-inspiring CGI (if you viewed in the cinema you would of had the full effect of this as it was shot in 3D), and of course those moments are between Spider Man and Jamie Foxx’s Electro. Foxx, in one of his first roles as a malefactor, does well here. His transformation is astounding, going from a geeky scientist to a genuinely horrific antagonist. With all the great acting, and brilliant cinematography of New York, what lets this film down is the formulaic and easily guessable narrative. It follows the standard three section formula and just feels all too familiar. At the box office it took a whopping $709 million (sounds a lot right? But is actually the least grossing film of the whole franchise) – are audiences tiring of Spidey and his antics?

If you can take this film for what it is meant to be – a bit of fun, with some emotion thrown in – then you’ll love it. But, if you are looking for a film with a deeper meaning and a touch of darkness (which Christopher Nolan managed with his re-boot of the Batman films) you won’t get it. The Amazing Spider Man 2 is out on DVD now.

X-Men: Days of Future Past

With the pending DVD release of ‘Days of Future Past it certainly seemed appropriate to give you guys a taste of what to expect, and an insight into what the film holds. As always, let me know what you think of this picture in the comments box.

There is many an X-Men film, from the Wolverine spin-offs to the original run, to this new franchise which brings us to the past (and interestingly, the future, hence that tricky title). X-Men: First Class was a re-invigoration for the series. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, the film took a stylish and well-scripted look into the lives of the younger, and rather handsome, Charles and Erik (or Professor X and Magento as you have probably come to know them). Vaughn made the film both look and feel hella-cool as well as surprisingly super interesting, opening up a world of strange and kooky characters, with powers (or of course more appropriately, mutations) which you and I wish we had. ‘First Class also had the power of making one re-visit older efforts from seasoned director Bryan Singer, who took the reigns with this second installment.

Lets start with whats good about this film, and there are certainly more than a few elements that make it so. The effects and make-up are the best yet, with Mystique presenting the audience with beauty and a streak of rebellion (or evil, whichever way you want to look at it), and the scenes of Magneto working his malevolent metal-wielding mutation are works of genius, and pure fascination. The cast are wonderful too. We welcome back the loveable Hugh Jackman as everyone’s favorite mutant, and McAvoy and Fassbender’s chemistry resembles a young sibling relationship mixed with a strong sense of loathing. The mix of the two makes for humorous effect, something which the franchise has become well-known for (the light relief of comedy is certainly welcomed, and marks X-Men as a series of films that never take itself too seriously).

promotional still for x-men: days of future past

promotional still for x-men: days of future past

Generally, and rather unfortunately,  ‘Days of Future Past falls flat on many different points. The film isn’t fast-paced, and actually droll’s along at the mileage of a Snail, lending to the boredom of those watching. The most interesting scene is the opener, in which we discover President Kennedy was assassinated by Magneto, and that’s both a clever and quite mischievous addition to the production. Evan Peters as Quicksilver adds wonderful humor, and brings a vibe of Scott Pilgrim or Kick Ass, as he  brings that loveable quality of youthful ignorance and cockiness to so many of the roles he plays. The main bug bare for me was the lack of screen time between Magneto and Mystique – Lawrence and Fassbender presented audiences with a simmering sexual chemistry in ‘First Class, and for that to be a missing juncture in ‘Days is something that’s sorely missed. Interjected with scenes from the 1970s are moments from the future, where robots named Sentinels are attempting to track down and kill all remaining mutants, these are well judged and never feel over-long or unnecessary (its also a great chance for the makers to show off how far the quality of the CGI they are able to use has come, and looks visually stunning).

X-Men: Days of Future Past is the second of three films, and that’s often a difficult position to hold in a franchise of films. It has that difficult task of handling characters who are now known, with new narrative traits that at times are most definitely not explained properly. The third film, Apocalypse looks to be a show-down of sorts (if the sneak-peak at the end of the credits has anything to do with it) and perhaps will help bring life back into a set of characters who we all have grown to care about. Bring Vaughn back as director, is what I say.