Iron Fist is the latest Netflix Marvel series, about Kung Fu billionaire Danny Rand. I thought it would be the hardest to do, and it turns out to be the weakest of the four Marvel Netflix series so far.
Where other series had comic relief or a snarky main character, Iron Fist has no laughs. Where other series had charismatic villains, Iron Fist has no villain you love to hate, or kinda root for, or anything (it does have a possibly unintentional Donald/Donald Jr./Ivanka vibe though). I don’t remember even a slight chuckle, either at a joke or at surprisingly evil villainous move (for some reason those make me laugh). And really my biggest complaint: his hand glows yellow but it’s not on fire. And that’s before thinking about the weird racial issues (Netflix Marvel’s second “white guy uses martial arts to beat up hundreds of asian guys” show).
It’s entirely watchable, but it’s not great (or even good) TV like the other series have been. The actual highlights of the series are the “hey I know that thing from a comic!” moments, which are incredibly fleeting.
There are a lot of references to Fraction/Brubaker’s Immortal Iron Fist comic (Bride of Nine Spiders and someone who I think is Dog Brother #1 appear, they mention the seven capital cities of heaven in passing, plus a reference to an Iron Fist legacy and maybe Orson Randall), but the story is totally unrelated. It’s largely about The Hand, which doesn’t interact much with Danny in the comics as far as I know (being Japanese, while K’un-lun is more in the himalayan area).
Most of the cast is pretty unknown to me, other than people from other shows and David Wenham (Faramir). Apparently I’ve seen Jessica Stroup a few times, but her face doesn’t ring a bell.
Trial & Error is NBC’s new single camera comedy, a mockumentary where John Lithgow is on trial for the murder of his wife. Harvey Dent from Gotham plays his lawyer (somehow he’s old enough to be Gotham’s DA, but he’s playing a novice attorney here). Bob Gunton is the victim’s father. The waitress from Heroes is the DA. Sherri Shepard is Harvey Dent’s secretary. And John Lithgow’s adult daughter is a not unattractive actress who I don’t recognize.
It’s ok. I wish it weren’t on Tuesday, but I might just let it sit on the DVR until Thursday, when I have next to nothing to watch. With a possible hiatus while I’m in Mass Effect mode.
Don’t Think Twice is Mike Birbiglia’s movie he wrote/directed/starred in about an improv group. It’s a small group of friends working a shit theater for peanuts, but then one gets cast on a show that resembles-but-is-legally-distinct-from SNL, and they have to watch their friend succeed and deal with professional jealousy and all that.
Gillian Jacobs is starting to feel omnipresent to me right now, since she’s in this, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 which I watched yesterday, and Love season 2 came out over the weekend. Key, Kate Micucci, that guy from Making History, and some that guys/girls also star, along with cameos from Ben Stiller, Pete Holmes, and Lena Dunham.
There’s something weird about watching people perform improv in a movie, which you know is scripted, so it’s not actually improvised? I mean technically it still might be, I’m sure these are all performers who could do two hours of improv, and you could get 15 minutes of good footage to fill in the movie… but knowing it’s filmed and possibly scripted kinda ruins it anyway.
So the comedy parts aren’t very funny, which just sorta leaves a drama behind. But it’s an ok drama? Not exactly recommended, but it’s not bad.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2 follows up a movie that was self-aware and surprisingly good, with a sequel that is mostly just dumb. John Cusack didn’t come back, so he’s replaced by Adam Driver, and with no Cusack there’s no need for Lizzy Caplan (and she might not have done it anyway), so Driver gets a love interest in Gillian Jacobs.
Likable as they all might be, the plot of the movie is weak and gives few opportunities for comedy. The first movie was structured to make references to 80s movies, let the characters take advantage of their future knowledge, and had some jokes like Crispin Glover losing his arm. In this one, they travel to the future, and… basically nothing funny happens there. There is a segment at the beginning showing what the characters are up to that’s funny, and a montage at the end of time travel hijinks that was pretty good, but the whole middle of the movie was a drag.
Creed is kind of a sequel/spinoff of the Rocky franchise, but also sort of a remake of the original Rocky. Apollo’s son is Rocky, Rocky is Mickey, there’s a new Adrian, and some British guy is Apollo. But I guess it’s right on the line between remake and “following the franchise formula.”
Adrian died, Rocky’s son moved away, Paulie apparently died too (Burt Young is still alive apparently… I’m older now than he was when he was in the first movie, which blows my mind, he looked about 60 in 1976, but he didn’t turn 60 until 2000). Rocky now runs a restaurant, Adrian’s, and reluctantly agrees to train, Adonis. Michael B. Jordan plays him, Apollo’s son from a woman besides his wife, who gets recast as Phylicia Rashad because the Mrs. Creed I remember best died in 2011. Jackie from Veronica Mars seems to be getting hotter, here as the love interest.
In true Rocky fashion, the training montages stand out. Keeping with the previous movie in the franchise, there are some quality inspirational speeches. Also, as is generally the case for Rocky movies, I don’t give a shit about the love story part. One big point of separation is the way they shot the first fight. No cuts at all, and I didn’t spot any cheats either where they had a chance to stitch two shots together to make it seem like one take. And it was really well done. The big fight in the end is much more like typical Rocky stuff, but it’s still exciting.
Overall, a pretty solid movie. No real points for originality, but it’s fun to watch. Now I’m looking for the sequel where he faces off with Clubber Lang’s son. Save Drago’s son, with the “your dad killed my dad” undercurrents, for later.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 continues the civil war in which both sides believe PR to be more important than fighting. The rebels assemble a squad of elite soldiers and reality show contest winners who will not really fight much but look good on TV. And then, you know, for the purposes of creating some drama, the look good on TV squad actually does something productive and not for PR.
You know, I could have sworn I remember there being a while “Team Peeta” vs “Team… Thor’s brother” thing, but Thor’s brother is barely in these movies. Admittedly, he’s more in this one than in the previous ones, but… still. Maybe it’s a thing from the books? And Peeta sucks all through the third one. I’m clearly on “Team Jennifer Lawrence should make out with Natalie Dormer,” and there’s one scene where they give each other a hug where I thought for a second they were going to (but… I’m pretty sure if they did, the internet would have already told me about it, since I’ve seen the time they accidentally kissed on the red carpet several times).
Anyway, the ending is… probably meant to mean something, but I took it in an extremely cynical, nihilistic way. Like, (spoiler alert), she seems to think somewhat positively about her experiences, but the whole reason she got involved was to save her sister, who is now dead, and she fought a whole revolution to put in a new president, who she then killed. But fuck it, this guy who tried to kill me once put some babies in me, so… let’s call that a win?
Swiss Army Man is the movie where Daniel Radcliffe plays a dead guy who farts a lot, and it turns out to be even weirder than I thought it would be. It turns out to be a surreal semi-musical about isolation and depression with a conclusion that is… certainly memorable, though not actually that good.
Paul Danno and Daniel Radcliffe are actually pretty good in it. I think it takes balls to commit to roles this weird. And Mary Elizabeth Winstead is cute as ever.
Time After Time is the other time travel series that started Sunday night. This one is a drama, where H.G. Wells (a dude this time) really invents a time machine, which Jack the Ripper uses to avoid the police to 2017, and Wells chases after him. It stars literally no one I recognize, which doesn’t happen often. I guess Wells was in Harry Potter and the Ripper was on Revenge, neither of which I’ve seen, and the love interest was the voice of Honey Lemon and in a few Entourages but I don’t remember her. There’s a supporting character who I do know from a few Rosewoods but that’s it.
Jack adapts to the future faster than Wells, but of course Wells is the good guy so he makes friends better. But Jack is out killing again, and they have to try to stop him. There’s an obvious solution to their predicament, use the time machine to go to before Jack arrives, and stop him when he arrives in 2017. Like 45 minutes later (it’s a 2 hour premiere), Wells says they can’t do that, because using the time machine at the same destination or destinations too close together often will fuck up time, but he’s ignoring the fact that it’s time, he could go to a month before Jack arrives and wait.
Anyway, I stuck it out the full two hours, but I don’t see myself continuing. Sunday’s TV schedule is crowded enough anyway.
Making History is the first of two time travel series that premiered Sunday night (weird, huh?). This one’s a sitcom, with the guy from that Jo/Elisha Cuthbert show I didn’t watch, a black guy I don’t recognize, and Leighton Meester (who is hotter with darker hair, but still cute). In this one, the white guy discovers time travel and thinks he’s fucking up history, so he recruits a history professor to join him. It seems like at least for a while, the action will be centered on the American revolution. I like it enough to follow it for a bit.
Crashing is Pete Holmes’ new HBO show that premiered a couple weeks ago but I didn’t realize it’d started. Holmes plays an aspiring stand-up comedian, and not a very good one, who ends up semi-homeless, and the title refers to him crashing on the couches of various notable stand-ups playing themselves (Artie Lange and T.J. Miller so far). I’m not sure how long it’ll work for, but I found the first two episodes to be reasonably good.