REVIEW SPECTACULAR 4: STILL SPECTACULAR IN 2018

Continuing on, here’s the 2018 batch (and some of late 2017)!
Click through for the reviews.

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (2018)
THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (2018)
CASTLEVANIA s02 (2018)
DAREDEVIL s03 (2018)
VENOM (2018)
THE PREDATOR (2018)
IRON FIST s02 (2018)
THE NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL (2018)
DISENCHANTED s01 (2018)
THE MEG (2018)
JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (2018)
BLOCKERS (2018)
MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT (2018)
READY PLAYER ONE (2018)
PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING (2018)
SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (2018)
A QUIET PLACE (2018)
ANT-MAN & THE WASP (2018)
THE EXPANSE s03 (2018)
THE INCREDIBLES 2 (2018)
WESTWORLD s02 (2018)
LUKE CAGE s02 (2018)
HEREDITARY (2018)
SOLO (2018)
DEADPOOL 2 (2018)
AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018)
THE TERROR s01 (2018)
THE MAGICIANS s03 (2018)
THE RITUAL (2017)
RED SPARROW (2018)
TOMB RAIDER (2018)
ANNIHILATION (2018)
BLACK PANTHER (2018)
BRIGHT (2017)
THE GOOD PLACE s02 (2018)
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EPPING MISSOURI (2017)
LADY BIRD (2017)
THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017)
JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)
COCO (2017)
BLACK MIRROR s04 (2017)
WIND RIVER (2017)
LOGAN LUCKY (2017)
THE SINNER (2017)
THE PUNISHER s01 (2017)

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE (2018)

Goddamn did they ever knock this one out of the park.
The colour palette alone is just gorgeous, and the animation is a brilliant mash of styles that make the whole film feel like a living, breathing comic book.
The cast is surprisingly well balanced considering its size, and that’s another of its strengths: while this is the origin of Miles Morales the story is about Spider-Man on a mythic level, about each incarnation of a beloved hero and what each of the people behind the mask brings to their version.
Spider-Man is the most well known and popular superhero in the world (yes, even more so than Batman) and ITSV uses this beautifully. Miles wasn’t widely known prior to this, but he’s absolutely going to be cemented in public consciousness now. Somehow by having more Peter Parkers they’ve succeeded in making it less about him specifically. Everything familiar about the Spidey origin story is taken and refracted not just once or twice but so many times that it elevates them beyond a story you’ve heard too many times and into myth – at their heart, every Spider-Person is human and fallible and defined by some kind of pain or tragedy. But they keep getting up again, and that’s what makes someone ordinary a hero.
It’s probably the best Spider-Man movie, an absolute love letter to animation, comics and Spidey himself.
Highly recommended.

 

THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (2018)

A classic ghost story in every sense, playing off almost every trope of the genre but playing it so well.
There’s some absolutely stellar work on show here – production design and casting are top-shelf and the story folds back into itself neatly in continuously surprising and tragic ways.
I watched the start of the season on and off right before bed and it seeped into some pretty intense nightmares those nights.
The house itself is the real villain – a cruel, awful and manipulative place that chews on its residents for their whole lives and slowly twists them to its own ends. It’s melancholic watching it all unfold, as Hill House works its awfulness on each of them in turn. Ultimately, the ghosts are more sad than terrifying, and the family are the victims of the place. Each of them has a different angle on the same events and it’s affected them each well into adulthood. That’s what it does to people. It eats them, and in doing so uses them to eat others.
If you’re here for a jump-scare rollercoaster then you’re in the wrong place. This is a slow, creeping, inevitable dread. One particular hour-long episode is made of three unbroken shots that is an absolute masterwork of staging and cinematography.
In general there’s more of a reliance on building discomfort in the background of shots rather than cheap cuts and fast horror that really works in its favour to bind it all together.
Continues to pull plot threads out from under you right into the final episode, and the closing loops of various tragedies were extremely well executed.
This is what long-form storytelling is for – time to soak and absorb.
Well worth a watch if you’re a fan of brooding horror.
Recommended.

 

CASTLEVANIA s02 (2018)

If you take the four episodes of s01 and the eight from s02 you’d have just about the best videogame adaptation series you could ask for.
It’s gory and violent, as is befitting the source material, and remixes the various narratives of the games into something distinct and gothic enough to make it stand on its own.
Voice acting is top notch and the animation is great.
Solid Halloween bingeing.

 

DAREDEVIL s03 (2018)

Probably the best the show has ever been, and the realisation of so much it has been working towards since the beginning.
D’Onofrio is perfect as the white-suited crimelord at last known as the Kingpin. Even caged, his reach and influence is boundless as he poisons everything around him.
Cox’s black suited Daredevil finally decides to embrace the Devil part of his moniker, and is pitted against the best portrayal of the villain Bullseye to date.
Supporting cast all get excellent turns and missing parts of their stories fleshed out. These shows always worked best keeping themselves as grounded as possible and DDs03 really shines at keeping things human, as well as eating its cake too with some fantastically shot and executed action sequences.
It definitely feels like the Netflix/Marvel run is wrapping things up for all of their shows, and this is as good a note for DD to go out on as any.
Recommended.

 

VENOM (2018)

Honestly, the only reason I saw this was because it was the only thing showing near the station during the gap between checking out of my airbnb and getting on the bus for the airport.
Otherwise I would have skipped it, like you should.
It’s basically all the crappiest aspects of 90s/early 00s superhero films wrapped in boredom and drowned in Tom Hardy’s incomprehensible performance.
Exactly as bad as you were expecting with not even the saving grace of being entertaining.
The trailer is literally the entire movie condensed into 2min. If you’ve seen that then there’s nothing else you’ve missed.

 

THE PREDATOR (2018)

SWEET JESUS WHAT A MESS.

 

IRON FIST s02 (2018)

An absolutely HUGE step up in quality from the massively disappointing first season.
It’s a little tighter at only 10eps and a lot more effort and care has gone into the fight choreography and digging into the mythos of the Iron Fist. The new showrunners have taken a completely different track for the characters and the improvement is immediate. Focusing on a new Danny Rand with a greater sense of responsibility and duty was a good move, and he’s at his best when he’s acting as a calm centre to those around him.
Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) is once again MVP, but the supporting cast is strong and complex – newcomer Typhoid Mary (Alice Eve) being a standout. Does some really interesting stuff with its ideas and the very end completely changes the game for where I thought this series could be headed.
If they level up the show this significantly again, season three will be a banger. You can probably skip season one altogether if you’ve seen THE DEFENDERS as it’s not that difficult to get the gist of things and it hits the ground running.
Probably on par with THE PUNISHER on the MNU scale of things, though not as dark and gritty. If any of the Marvel/Netflix series have been your jam, this one’s worth a watch.

 

THE NIGHT IS SHORT, WALK ON GIRL (2018)

I don’t really know how to approach explaining this film, nor do I think it really warrants an attempt – the fun and the joy of it comes entirely from being dragged along on a single surreal, hilarious night that feels like a year through the streets of Kyoto as a girl with prodigious drinking abilitites wanders from encounter to encounter and somehow becomes the thread that pulls a town of characters together.
It’s bizzarre, dream-like and propped up by wonderfully strange animation throughout. I went in blind having only seen the poster and knowing of the director and I’d probably recommend the same.

 

DISENCHANTED s01 (2018)

It’s okay?
Leans way too hard on both showing and telling you a joke rather than letting a gag sit on its own, which just feels like it’s not confident and/or underwritten.
The last two episodes actually throw some interesting twists in the mix and it’s a shame that they hadn’t come in around episode 3 and evolved from there.
Doesn’t really seem to know what to do with its own premise until all of a sudden it lurches into gear at the end, and then it’s over just as it’s getting good.
It’s fine for a lazy afternoon, but there’s much better stuff out there. Do FUTURAMA re-runs instead.

 

THE MEG (2018)

Look, it’s not a great movie, but it’s acutely aware of just the right balance of trashy B-movie schlock it needs to be.
If anything it could have gone bigger and dumber and more cartoonish with its human characters, but as it is it’s kinda fun. Not quite as memorable as DEEP BLUE SEA, would be fun to watch with a few beers and heckle.

 

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (2018)

I haven’t even finished it yet and it’s dumb and I hate it.
Later: OK, I finished it. It’s dumb and I hate it. Don’t bother.
Good job on making me actively disinterested in dinosaurs, Colin Trevorrow. Don’t make any more of these, please.

 

BLOCKERS (2018)

A teen sex comedy for the modern age – flipped on the usual “boys try to get laid” take to instead follow three girls who make a pact to lose their viginities at prom.
The hook is that their respectively overprotective/overfamiliar/absentee-but-oversupportive parents find out and try to intervene.
In some sense I guess it’s a chase movie?
Way funnier than I was expecting, and refreshing that for all the stupid shit that comes with this kind of film it’s actually really smart and progressive at its heart.
Worth a watch.

 

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT (2018)

“They don’t make ‘em like this anymore.”
Viscerally shot, tightly paced, the whole film is a setup for an absolutely white-knuckle last half hour.
I’ll be honest, the last two M:I films are fairly smudged together for me, so I was going in with moderate expectation bolstered by good reviews. It delivered, and HOW.
What cheesy/hamminess that comes with the package is totally in service to some absolutely insane practical stunt work and a serpentine plot that bounces from twist to betrayal to twist. If you pay attention you’ll see them all coming, but it doesn’t really matter.
Severely entertaining. Definitely worth a big screen, the spectacle is a huge selling point. Lots of fun.

 

READY PLAYER ONE (2018)

Great visuals, decent performances.
Vast improvement over the book, but still ends up lagging in the 3rd act through the same overly drawn-out sentimentality that generally turns me off the later Spielberg films.
It’s still a fairly shallow name-dropping of popular properties without utilising them in a way that speaks to the spirit beyond a surface recognition of them, and it has way too many false finishes.
The first half is pretty fun and it’s cool seeing pop culture mashups, but it loses steam.
For curiosity’s sake only.

 

PACIFIC RIM: UPRISING (2018)

Big silly thing about giant monsters fighting giant robots.
Great production design, enjoyably trashy delivery. A double-cheeseburger of a movie.
Probably as close to live action mecha anime as there needs to be.
Doesn’t take itself seriously and you shouldn’t either.
Pretty fun, worth a go.

 

SORRY TO BOTHER YOU (2018)

I can’t remember the last time I walked out of a cinema to a whole audience chattering “dude what the actual fuck??”
Loose, messy, pinballing from one scene to the next with reckless abandon – something like a 90s punk filmmaker take on IDIOCRACY or OFFICE SPACE while on shrooms.
A-list talent in what’s likely one of the weirdest films in all their careers. Lots of fun, then utterly bananas.
Recommended.

 

A QUIET PLACE (2018)

Well made but badly thought out.
There’s commendable craft on show, but the logical foundations are flimsy.
Everyone in this film should just be dead, or have already worked out the solution to the monsters.
Some good moments of tension, and it’s well shot.
But dumb characters do stupid things and the “rules” of the world only work when they’re setting up a jump scare or something “because plot” that stretches credulity too far too often.
A good watch in a theatre, but not a great film.

 

ANT-MAN & THE WASP (2018)

Fun, fluffy and light – the ANT-MAN films are the dessert of the MCU.
Straight-ahead caper/heist movie (sort of) with some great visual gags and rapid-fire dialogue. Not going to change the world, but pretty entertaining all over.
Worth a lazy weekend watch.

 

THE EXPANSE s03 (2018)

DAAAAAAAMN. This freakin’ show, man!
The adage of this being “Game of Thrones in space” is on the one hand apt, but on the other hand underrepresentative of its consistent quality.
I love these characters. Everyone is complex and competent and nuanced. I find myself thinking “damn, if they had so-and-so here, that person would know just what to do”, which is a real testament to the writing.
The tension is high and the stakes keep building while it doesn’t feel like it’s talking down or oversimplifying for the sake of netting a wider audience. (I’m sure book fans have their nitpicks but I’m only halfway through the first book so can’t draw that bow).
Every episode has its “oh holy shit!” moments and it manages to keep riding momentum further and further into ever-expanding scope.
As far as I’m aware there are three books worth of material covered, a few more in reserve and two more to publish. Let’s hope Amazon keeps this level going because it’s already in the top tier of scifi television and eyeing the crown. Can’t wait for more.
If you’re a genre fan you owe it to yourself to get into it.
/fanboyrant

 

THE INCREDIBLES 2 (2018)

Pretty fun and light, nothing game changing or as special as the first.
Really it’s a very good INCREDIBLES PART 1.5, and that’s just fine.
1950s superhero aesthetics and great family dynamic are high points, relatively bland villain and plot are low but even then are totally servicable to the good bits.
Worth a watch, probably best viewed immediately after the first.

 

WESTWORLD s02 (2018)

Overall not as strong as the first, but the high points are even higher.
Episode 8 deserves special mention for being one of the best hours of television I’ve ever seen – it could even be watched as a standalone if someone only had a passing familiarity with the show’s concept.
I loved everything ShogunWorld and wish more time had been spent there.
Ultimately the finale was a bit too “tell don’t show”, as were all the weaker parts of the season. I understand that this is necessary for a broader audience that isn’t as obsessively literate about narrative techniques as someone like me, but some of it still felt clunky especially compared to the moments that were better executed.
The bad stuff is really only mediocre at worst while the good stuff is fantastic, so overall the season was good but uneven.
I hope that they cap it at 3 seasons max as it feels like they’re in danger of overstretching the concept now.
Still, recommended. Even if you only watch “Kiksuya” (e08). It’s beautiful, and the Heart Shaped Box cover is haunting as all hell.

 

LUKE CAGE s02 (2018)

Definitely in the upper tier of the Marvel/Netflix collection. Takes all the flaws of the late half of the first season and trashes them in favour of a much more cohesive story.
Comparable undertones to Black Panther, but more impactful because of the Netflix universe’s more grounded tone. It’s easier to stay engaged when action sequences don’t blow up into total CG fests.
Didn’t notice the 13 episode lag as much (I still say these would be better as a tighter 10), as the focus is much more on the complexities of being a hero and the corrupting influence of power.
Great villain, great setup for wherever it’s going next.
Even Iron Fist’s appearance is fun – they actually factor their opposing fighting styles into the choreography and it’s pretty delightful.
Soundtrack is excellent too.
If you’re generally into these things, this one’s worth a watch.

 

HEREDITARY (2018)

Slow, chilling, beautifully shot and executed.
No jump scares! Great performances! Long-take shots and economical editing! Horrifying things!
Could have used a little bit of trimming in the middle but this is much more THE VVITCH or ROSEMARY’S BABY than THE CONJURING or INSIDIOUS – things really ramp up in the final act so the grounded and mundane presentation of most of the movie really sells the horror aspects. Some fantastic imagery, effective tension and unnerving story. Didn’t go where I was expecting at all.
Worth going in blind if the above sounds appealing.
Well recommended.

 

SOLO (2018)

(This review was just a photo of myself asleep in the cardboard Millennium Falcon cockpit they had at the theatre and as an analysis of the film it still holds.)

 

UNTITLED DEADPOOL SEQUEL (2018)

Crude, juvenile, absurdly violent, crass and full of cheap gags and cheaper shots. Which is exactly why you love it.
There are cameos coming out its nose, more jokes per minute than three viewings could catch, spoofs and lampoons and references to a ridiculous degree, VERY hard-R violence and gore, some kinda janky CG in parts and enough Ryan Reynolds to satiate half a Ryan Reynolds.
You’re either on board with that or you’re not, but it’s a hilarious ride either way. Worth watching with a crowd and/or a few beers.

 

AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (2018)

There was a good half-dozen times when I just blurted “HOLY SHIT” at some twist, cameo, dramatic moment, action beat or flight of spectacle. And that’s not even including the general gasping and wowing.
I’m a longtime fan of the Marvel films and am fairly familiar with the comic arcs they draw from, and still I was regularly blindsided. It really feels like ten years and nearly twenty films have been building to this and the consequence and fallout to these weird magic stones that’ve been rattling around in the background all this time. Thanos is an excellent villain, and really this is his movie even though we’re introduced to him through the dozens of other characters he’s up against.
I have no idea where they’re going to take this next. This isn’t the climax of their ten year run, this is the pivot point of their universe – at the risk of a tired hyperbolic example: this is Empire Strikes Back.
I’m hesitant to even vaguely mention plot points, but rest assured that the trailers have been very careful in how they’ve presented things. The film itself subverts those expectations and far exceeds them.
It works SO WELL. That’s just astounding in itself, especially considering the staggering scale of the thing.
I need to see it again just to process everything and articulate anything more complex than just: it’s really great.

 

THE TERROR s01 (2018)

This is the sort of thing premium cable series work best as. Closed story, excellent cast and production values with enough time to breathe over ten 45min-ish episodes.
And oh man, the horror. In the late 1800s two ships attempt to find passage through the Arctic, only to become ice-locked and hunted by some huge beast. But the worst of it comes from the elements, and desperation.
Definitely not for the faint of heart – the awfulness of gangrene and the savagery of creeping madness is presented brutally and very matter-of-fact rather than sensationalised in any way. Gravitas is given its due, and you find yourself unable to look away even as the utter hopelessness of the situation becomes unavoidable and inevitable.
It’s extremely well done and, if you can stomach it, highly recommended.

 

THE MAGICIANS s03 (2018)

It says a lot about a show that it can keep changing the narrative goalposts and complicating everything for its characters while still building on consequence of action towards something distinct each season.
It’s kind of like Harry Potter Went To College, but darker. And funnier. And stranger.
Have been enjoying it a lot. Glad it got renewed.

 

THE RITUAL (2017)

I’m a sucker for lost-in-the-woods horror, especially when it has a good cast, intriguing premise, solid production design and great creature work.
So yeah, I enjoyed this.
Give it a go without watching any trailers or anything if the above sounds like your jam.

 

RED SPARROW (2018)

Or: That BLACK WIDOW movie you wanted, but not tied to the MCU.
More switchbacks than a mountain drive and alliances muddier than the bottom of the Yarra River.
Taut, violent and neatly executed – worth a watch going in with as little plot information as possible.
Recommended.

 

TOMB RAIDER (2018)

Nah, you’re probably good without it.

 

ANNIHILATION (2018)

Definitely picks up in the second half when it starts to get into the abstract and has some really effective, chilling horror elements and incredibly striking visuals throughout. Elements of STALKER by way of a DMT trip, but could have gone even further down that path.
Dialogue and pacing are a little clunky and expositional, but I’m also comparing it to the book and wanted something much weirder and more dreamlike – too strange and blunt to ever get made. Indeed, the weakest elements are when it tries to explain itself, so I wonder just how far the release version is from an earlier cut that reportedly made studio execs panic that it was too heady and confusing.
Not to say it isn’t worth a watch, and better that a film try for something this out-there and not entirely hit the mark than to aim for middle of the road and succeed in mediocrity.

 

BLACK PANTHER (2018)

A stunning Afro-Futurist vision of what it is to be a cultural and technological leader of the world, and what responsibilities that should entail when others are less fortunate or able.
The best MCU villain to date bar none – Michael B Jordan’s ‘Killmonger’ is an extremist in his methods but… he’s also kinda right. Should an isolationist nation with the ability to solve so many of the world’s problems expose itself and in doing so compromise their way of life, or does a king’s duty only extend to his own people?
Part superhero film, part Bond film, part Shakespearean political drama, BLACK PANTHER is something altogether bigger and more ambitious than anything else that has come before for this sort of thing, and the fact that it is such a wonderful celebration of blackness and African exceptionalism makes it something very special and important.
Highly recommended.
It was a real experience being able to work on this with so many absurdly talented people at Method Studios over the past year, and the final product was such a stunning confluence of so much effort and skill on everyone’s part. (Just don’t look for me in the credits ‘cos unfortunately I didn’t make it in there).

 

BRIGHT (2017)

I’ve been trying to work up a long-form scree about my many and myriad problems with the worldbuilding in this, but wouldn’t you know it, Lindsay Ellis already did it better.

 

THE GOOD PLACE s02 (2018)

This whole show is a delight and you should watch it. It’s charming as heck, cast is pitch perfect, the comedy is quirky and continues to build on itself with frequently inspired results. Two forkin’ thumbs up.

 

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EPPING MISSOURI (2017)

Is there anyone better at dialogue than Martin McDonagh? This feels like he wanted to make a Coen Brothers film and showed them up at their own game – less caricaturey, more blunt and cruel.
There’s about four films worth of plot coming and going in there but it all comes off entirely effortless; Frances McDormand & Sam Rockwell will probably sweep even more awards for this, but even the bit players are batting for the bleachers.
Among all the quality stuff I’ve been barrelling through, this is a standout.

 

LADY BIRD (2017)

A slice-of-life film played so straight and honest it could pass as a documentary. A rollercoaster through the late stages of highschool, much like highschool itself, funny and warm, but always to one side of what you would assume from a film “like this”. Almost mumble-core but without the insufferable hipster self-awareness so many of those films seem to pride themselves on.
It’s a really great little movie.

 

THE SHAPE OF WATER (2017)

A movie that only del Toro could have made – rich in its detail and caring in its craft, as much a filmmakers film as anything else he’s made, perhaps moreso than ever. The practical effects are astounding, the performances are uniformly fantastic and the story has enough spin on expectations to keep its celebration of the strange, the human, and the strangely human fascinating and heartfelt.
Highly recommended.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)

OR: The Rebirth of Super-Meh

 

COCO (2017)

Naturally one expects any Disney/Pixar fare to be visually impressive, but the sheer scale and colour and design of some of the vistas on show here are just jaw-dropping on the big screen. I’m already a sucker for the Dia de Los Muertos aesthetic and cultural attitude to death/the afterlife, but even factoring my bias in this is a total home-run.
Add to that a refinement of their Fun For Kids, Emotionally Devastating For Adults approach to maybe the best balance they’ve achieved and you’ve got one of the studios’ finest ever – which is high praise considering the competition from its own output.
Interesting to note too that between this and MOANA they’ve struck onto some of their best work while also putting non-white culture at the forefront of stories deeply about family and community.
Highly recommended. Mayyyyyybe take some tissues.

 

BLACK MIRROR s04 (2017)

Overall, less stressful and bleak than previous seasons, but even the weaker episodes are more interesting than most stuff out right now.
Personally I thought 6 was the best, 5 was stylish and well executed, 4 is not ‘San Junipero’ but punched my cold dead cynical heart regardless, 3 is pretty intense but could have done just a little bit more with the tech, 2 is the weakest link and doesn’t really bite into the social/developmental implications as it could have, and 1 was essentially a better hour of ‘The Orville’ than all of ‘The Orville’ combined.
Yeah, they’re vague descriptions. But a big part of the appeal of the show is going into 3-6 episodes of a season completely blind and having a standalone story unfold under the broader theme of “dystopia/technology”, and it still does a great job.
And hey, my existential dread didn’t get amped any higher than it is usually! What a time to be alive!

 

WIND RIVER (2017)

Career-best performance from Jeremy Renner (Elizabeth Olsen is also excellent), a haunting look at the impact of murder and cultural invasion on remote Native American communities. Extremely well-executed and gorgeous to look at, as unforgiving as the landscape it’s set against. Very, very good.

 

LOGAN LUCKY (2017)

To call this Redneck Ocean’s Eleven is… well, not inaccurate, but also wildly underselling things.
I’m split on whether MVP should go to Daniel Craig or Adam Driver, but really everyone is bringing their A-game. The charm is in the dialogue and dopey exchanges but never stoops to being mean-spirited in its portrayal of the Deep South.
It’s a heist film, but knowing that, go in blind. Busted my sides laughing more than once.
Recommended.

 

THE SINNER (2017)

Heavy, mature and intense, exactly the right kind of length and pace for a procedural of this kind. Along with the equally excellent MINDHUNTER Netflix is really knocking it out of the park here – ten years ago this would have been condensed too far into a cinematic thriller and tossed aside after two hours but here it’s really allowed to breathe and seep in, letting the mood and atmosphere and horror of it all dig in its claws.
Jessica Biel & Bill Pullman are fantastic, supporting cast is solid, the thread is drawn out with mesmeric pacing and there are more than enough twists to keep the edges sharp.
Not light viewing, but well recommended.

 

THE PUNISHER s01 (2017)

Brutally violent and harshly critical of what the military industrial complex does, especially to young men. PTSD, radicalisation, private militarisation, indoctrination, loss, vengeance and domestic terrorism all get a turn, but it keeps just this side of glorifying the violence – it’s always shown as awful and painful, its ripples inflicting suffering on anyone caught in its path, innocent and guilty alike. Frank is a broken mess of rage and bullets – revenge fantasy vigilante he may be, but sympathetic nonetheless in his efforts to stop others from venturing down his bloody path.
One of the better Marvel/Netflix series (probably just behind JESSICA JONES and DAREDEVIL s01), and I noticed the thirteen episode length a bit less than usual with these series, probably because it rightly kept its focus on the human cost of the violence at its core. There’s still slow points, just not as severe as some of the more recent offerings.
It’s also the least “comic-booky” of any of them, largely due to Frank Castle and those around him not having any sort of superpower except for guns, trauma and a dogged determination to push through the blood and pain for his revenge.

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