Netflix/Marvel Studios 2017 IRON FIST Episode #1 Review!






Iron Fist Movie Poster

The last of the long awaited DEFENDERS heroes, IRON FiST breaks on the Netflix shores this Weekend, and my opinion? Well After Loving the first season of DAREDEVIL with some minor hiccups in the later episodes, Really enjoying JESSICA JONES, being Lukewarm on the 2nd season of DAREDEVIL, and LOVING Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE: POWERMAN, I find the first episode of IRON FIST… underwhelming.

 

The trailers were the first hiccup as I found them tedious rather than exciting, and tedium is not what you expect from what should be a Martial Arts rich show. The action looked unimpressive, and the casting, especially of the protagonist gave me cause for concern. He looked unimpressive rather than what he should be… a living weapon.

But trailers can steer you wrong, and hoping to be proven wrong I watch the first episode of IRON FIST. What hits you is the opening sequence, one thing all the Marvel/Netflix collaborations have gotten right is an absolutely great opening/credit sequence. The IRON FIST opening sequence by comparison looks like an unfinished product, a bad joke. An unfocused concept that they simply ran out of time and ended up just throwing something together.

 

 

Getting beyond the disappointment of the Credit Sequence, I like the opening shot of the barefoot hero in New York, a shout out to the Master of Kung Fu Comic’s of the 70s.

 

Quirky but in reality do you know how impossibly disgusting it would be to walk around the streets of New York or any major city in your bare feet?! There are things I fear to step on, even with shoes on. But again it’s a harmless if ludicrous call back to the comics of yesteryear.

 

What immediately impresses me is how much better Finn Jones is as Danny Rand, than the trailers hinted at. He has a likable and commanding presence, that is at the heart of the character, and he is choreographed to move with an effortless balletic grace that speaks volumes of his character and journey.

 

Iron Fist Movie Poster

 

Indeed, Jones as Danny Rand is pretty much, contrary to my thoughts on the trailer, rather than being the weakest thing about the show, in this episode he is the strongest thing. He is very affable, which above all is the saving grace of his character, and in many ways distances him from the other more brooding members of the Defenders.

With the exception of Luke Cage, who beneath his bullet proof skin has, like Danny Rand, the heart of an optimist and a poet. Unlike the bone breaking Daredevil or the oft alcoholic and fatalist Jessica Jones, Power Man and Iron Fist don’t want to hurt their fellow man, they want to help them, make them better; Even, if possible, their villains. It’s why those two work so well as a duo in the comics. Particularly the wonderful David Walker and Sanford Green POWERMAN AND IRONFIST comics that started in 2016.

 

Finn Jones gets the character of Danny Rand, The Iron Fist. Underneath the affable nature of Jones portrayal, there is something you see in his first closeup (when he is trying to get in to be seen) a core of steel, something unyielding that completely sells him in a way the trailer did not.

So the Danny Rand portion of the first episode works well, it is a lot of setup, and I don’t mind setup, if it is done well, and written well, and brought across well, I thought the first two epiosdes of LUKE CAGE, which some considered talky, I felt were two of the finest written hours of television of 2016.

ASIDE ON  LUKE CAGE SERIES AND COLOR CODED TELEVISION

(I’m about to get deep into media bias, particularly as it relates to ethnicity, so feel free to skip the following aside, the ending of it is marked, and continue on with the Iron Fist review)

 

Coker’s LUKE CAGE said wonderful truths that you usually don’t get with ethnic characters, because mostly ethnic characters on television are nothing more than Black faces spouting and reaffirming White messages . Messages which whether BUFFY or SUPERGIRL Season 2 or DOCTOR WHO or NEXT GENERATION all tend to be some variation on the wish fulfillment of its writers or worse the unconscious coded messages that they unknowing have accepted as truths, namely White female initially falls for Ethnic Character than comes to her senses and dumps him for a White character.
If that plotline plays out in one show, that’s fine, that’s life, stuff happens. However, if that plot-line plays out in every single show where a white female is romantically tied to a man of color, then that is no longer sharp, inventive writing, or originality, it is programming, played over and over again until we stop seeing it, but keep believing it.
In Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE you got writing that was shorn of that very racist programming that makes up 90% of the shows we see on TV, and the output of even our best writers. By no measure do I think Joss Whedon is racist, however he reuses the above pattern of racial politics when it comes to the romantic lives of the men of color he scripts from FIREFLY to BUFFY to AGENTS OF SHIELD to AGENT CARTER. At some point any romantic light he casts the men of color he scripts, any momentum to a healthy heterosexual relationship, particularly with a female of another ethnicity has to be derailed. Their identification as a sexual alpha, derailed. Mac on AGENTS OF SHIELD becomes comedy relief, rather than what he should be on that show… the Mac.
And like I said you would be hard pressed to not see this very strange repetition of sexual marginalization and symbolic castration (fit to be comedy relief or the non-threatening buddy or father figure but not the romantic interest) occur over and over to men of color in just about every dramatic show you can name, particularly the action oriented ones. Whether BUFFY, AGENT CARTER, AGENTS OF SHIELD, NEXT GENERATION, ER, ROSEWOOD, SUPERGIRL, FIREFLY.  Such bias extends even to our news and ‘reality programming’, the fact that over 20 years later the media is still lynching OJ Simpson (A famous Black man accused of murdering a white woman) while in the intervening years there has been no shortage of murdered spouses. However this particular case accomplishes familiar goals of America, the tearing down of idols, the vilification of the other, and a platform to use an individual act, to try to send a message to a whole mass of people. It’s a lynching, writ large, 20th and 21st century style.
And by contrasts it has been envogue for the last 20 years to pair White Males successfully with women of color, pair being perhaps too equal a term, more like have the woman of color fling herself at the White Male, whether that’s FLASH, JAMES BOND, WALKING DEAD, TAKEN, EMERALD CITY, and again a couple of times it is just original storytelling, but for this pattern to be a constant over the last 20 years, then that is something else, that is programming.

 

So I’m always drawn to the shows that eschew these programming ploys, these repeated coded messages. So that is why I hold shows like LUKE CAGE in such high regard. A show where a man of color, a Black man, can be a hero and get the girl, full stop. It’s a rare concept in a mass media that is so racist it is not aware of how rare they have by design, made that concept.
Name me ten Dramatic shows (not comedies) on TV right now where a lead character of color, is in a successful healthy relationship with a female, particularly of another ethnic group. You’d be hard pressed to name 2. But you can name dozens upon dozens of shows that are cast and written the other way. Even though statistics tell us there are far more Black Male/White female relationships than White Male/Black Female relationships.
So why would the fiction of mass media be so contrary and completely out of sync with the realities of the populations watching those fictions? Because invariably the writers, who mostly are white males, propagate their limited definitions of diversity while also crafting their wish fulfillment, which usually breaks down to our White Hero is ‘so enlightened’ because he deigns to have a Black girlfriend, and the Black Girlfriend who has to throw herself at him.
Like I said, once or twice, it is original, however all the time, the same way, it is programming and it is insulting.

 

END OF ASIDE

Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE : POWER MAN brilliantly gave us something more than the programming we have been used to, showed us Netflix as a channel where more original and more truly DIVERSE stories could be told.

It left big foot prints for the next show, IRON FIST, to follow in.

And without expecting IRON FIST to be ground breaking, or anti- stereotype and ANTI programming, I did expect it to be good.

Unfortunately the first episode of IRON FIST suffers because its lack of action is not compensated for by rich and compelling characters, or evocative acting. Case in point… Ward and his father.

There is nothing more derailing to a narrative, than a weak antagonist, and unfortunately in Ward and his Father you have two very boring and uninteresting and cookie cutter antagonists. Ward came off as just a petulant child, a whiner, and whiners do not make for great TV.

The scene with Ward and his Dad discussing Danny Rand, rather than riveting is the definition of tedious. I had to look at the clock, to see how much time was left before I could watch something else.

That is never what you want to be doing when watching a show, looking at your clock.

So,  between the pacing issues, and the casting issues, and the uninteresting bad guys, I’m solidly unexcited to move on to the next episode. And that’s not an issue I have had with the previous shows.

I hope to work my way through the series and all the way to the end, and I hope I can report it gets great, but for the first episode all I can give it is a …

Grade: C-

 

Iron Fist Movie Poster

Advertisements

TRAILER NEWS: THE INVISIBLE WAR, a rash of institutionalized Rape in the US Military?

The Invisible War

From Oscar(R)- and Emmy(R)-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick (This Film Is Not Yet Rated; Twist of Faith) comes The Invisible War, a groundbreaking investigative documentary about one of America’s most shameful and best kept secrets: the epidemic of rape within the U.S. military. The film paints a startling picture of the extent of the problem–today, a female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The Department of Defense estimates there were a staggering 19,000 violent sex crimes in the military in 2010. Twenty percent of all active-duty female soldiers are sexually assaulted. The Invisible War exposes the epidemic, breaking open one of the most under-reported stories of our generation, to the nation and the world.–from the filmmakers

Well that… troubles me, to put it lightly.

It does not however surprise me.

Unfortunately given the rash of atrocities associated with our military, particularly in the last dozen years, the tale THE INVISIBLE WAR has to tell while infuriating, is not surprising.

I have to think it has a lot to do with that rash of news stories about the military being in dire need of soldiers, and filling their ranks by any and all methods; some extremely suspect.

Here’s the thing, for every person who is in the military for the right reason and to do the right thing, you have three people who… in no manner, no way, and for no reason, should have passed the screening process and been given a gun, and put in a position to control others, much less in a position to end lives.

At the best of times, and to the best of people, such responsibility… is to be watched.

But seemingly, no one is watching anymore. So we end up with a rash of incidents about people who cannot even control themselves, being given a gun and sent all over the globe to control people and cultures that were old when America was but a dream. And doing it badly.

Again not all our soldiers, hopefully not the majority, but enough. Enough bad apples to spoil the pie.

And this isn’t just about our military over there. This is about our police force, and our prison guards here. This is about a culture of oppression and the cost we all pay for turning a blind eye to a police/slave state… it is about rule by terror. And the thing about terror, it doesn’t respect boundaries real well.

There’s no way to sow terror and horror, without reaping it. Without breathing it in. And when the mandate from the top, to this immature and often volatile young world police force is to, still, spread shock and awe… the results as we have seen, are not pretty.

When in our name, soldiers are given authority to terrorize and devalue the other with impunity, you get American torture prisons, you get American concentration camps, and eventually you get that behavior coming home to roost. You get the abhorrent methods used to pacify the resistance of those we disagree with abroad, brought home… to be used against those we disagree with here.

It becomes our method for relating to everything, and everyone. Even our own. Barbarism as national policy.

And maybe it’s even simpler than that. Maybe it’s an American male population that instead of being raised on movies about saving damsels in distress and opening doors for ladies, finds entertainment in movies and video games about women getting raped and tortured and killed. The truth is… we do not rise above our fictions, we become them. The fifties dreamt of space and the sixties saw us achieve it. In the last two decades the mass media of America has been about fear and terror and torture and mistrust, and we are living up… to those dreams.

Maybe in the mad rush to devalue the other, all we have done is learned to laughingly… devalue ourselves.

I don’t have the answers. But we better damn sure start looking for them. And it begins with asking the hard questions. Is our military doing right? If so, how? And if not, how? And what can we do, to make our soldiers not victims nor puppets nor fall-guys for an administration of madmen?

These are questions, especially as yet another election devoid of any real choice (you can pick corporate meat puppet 1 or corporate meat puppet 2) approaches, that we have to ask and answer.

Because the security and rights of anyone in this country, any soldier, any woman, any person, is tied directly to the amount of security we give even the least of us.

Our liberties as citizens are only as secure as the liberties of those we disagree with. is tied to how we treat enemy combatants, prisoners, foes (which as history teaches us, will be our governments friends tomorrow. Never hate for your government, because to your government it is all just a game of dollars and cents). Because the lines we cross cannot be easily uncrossed, and the human rights we ultimately eradicate when we violate the other… are our own.

Go see the trailer here, and see what questions and what answers you come up with.

The News Thing, a boat of lost souls, and the cross

This is me, ranting. Bat crazy ranting. Those who want to avoid Bat Crazy ranting, avoid this one, come back tomorrow and hear about super-heroes punching each other in their under-wear. 🙂

I don’t really do… the news thing.

I mean the major stuff I keep abreast of, if the president and congress are trying to sell first borns to big business, etc. But the 24 hour, FOX/CNN/SS constant “thought police, be afraid, believe, color coded terror, be afraid”… not really my bag.

You tell me something one time a day, that’s news. You tell me something 72 times a day, the same thing, 3 times an hour, that is not about news, that is about programming. That is about conditioning. That is about terror.

That is about you, the media, in ways deep and dreadful and not at all healthy, trying to touch me.

I watch people, sit in front their tv god… constantly just soaking up and regurgitating another man’s hate.

Older women in my family, god love women, but they are like sponges for the dreams of madmen, raised on serialized entertainment, on soap operas, so news and talk shows are just more soap operas to them. Idiocy is just more entertainment to them. And they will open up their mouths and parrot out of their mouths whatever is on television… without questioning.

“Oh isn’t it good we’re invading Libya” one recently said to me, when this nation (under God?) was committing yet another coup in a sovereign nation.

“Why?” I asked her.

“Cause of all the bad things the leader has done to his people.”

“Do you mean Gaddafi, who was supporting the civil rights movement in this country, and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, when the American government wouldn’t let great quantities of the population drink out of faucets or use a bathroom, and was siccing dogs on marchers, and bombing churches and lynching Black children? That Gaddafi?”

Needless to say I’m really popular at family reunions.

It’s just amazing to me, how few people in America, think. Not Black people, or White people, or Brown people, or Yellow people, but any people… think, beyond what the idiot box tells them.

Oh it is to be wept at, how all you victims of Rome, so gleefully are turned into victimizers.

Here’s the thing with me. You have to earn the moral high ground.

YOU HAVE TO EARN the moral high ground.

Be you a man, or a nation, you have to earn the moral high ground.

America is forever taking the moral high ground. And no country, in the history of this world, is less suited to walk that walk. America began as a terrorist nation, and America grew fat through fostering a level of inhumanity and terror, that no Iraq or Iran or Cuba or Korea or Russia or Libya, has ever come close to.

And the thing about America, is her present shows no sign of having repented of her past.

America has never stopped being a terrorist nation. It’s her one, last great product.

So yeah when the military industrial complex, pulls the strings for the 24hour propaganda show we call CNN or Fox, etc… I’m not really big, on goose stepping along.

I guess because I have a long memory, and I potentially can forgive, but I will never forget and I will never cheer you into a position to do it again. To anyone.

Now you, the tides of war, can come through me, or you can try to walk over me, but you’ll never reach your goal with me.

It’s the same reason I’ll never be a Christian as practiced in America. I have no particular issue with Christianity, I think the ideology is grand, however in practice especially in America it has been an abomination in the eyes of God.

That’s not a dig, and it’s not an insult, it is however a fact.

From the Witch trials on. The odious form of Slavery that took place in this nation, the most depraved the world has ever seen, happened not despite Christianity. It reached it’s peak of evil BECAUSE of how Christianity was practiced in this country.

Slavery, in the vile form practiced in the US flourished… because of Christianity.

That’s a hell of a thing for anyone to say, I know it… and I take no pleasure in the saying.

More hell still, because it’s the truest thing you’ll ever hear anybody tell you.

I have seen the torture devices. I have seen your abominations. I have seen ships with names like HOPE, and CHARITY, and GRACE (all we need is one named OPERATION FREEDOM), loaded down with tortured men, women, and children. I have seen the machinations of righteous men and women. Shielding their abominations under the name of Christ and god.

And I have seen one more thing, that we are our fathers even onto the 7th generation, and crimes not grappled with, not resolved… are repeated: there or there or there.

Christianity as practiced in this country, has more of Rome in it, than of Christ, and this country has the crucifixions to prove it. The cross itself, having nothing to do with a Christ, being a Roman symbol long before any such messianic birth or death, a roman symbol of power, and dominance, and torture. The devil going up and down, and to and fro.

How does a person wear a cross and not know that? Not think one minute, of one hour, of one day, of the millions upon millions who died screaming their guts out on that most sacred torture device of Rome… on the cross.

That cross.

Think about it, logically for a second. Who would carry around an idol, a symbol of a lynched man except the lyncher. Much the way lynchers in America would cut trophies from the bodies of their victims to wear around their neck.

Such… Christian people. Such, righteous people. God forbid you accuse anyone else in this world of terror.

So to, who would wear a symbol of a crucifixion around their neck, except the crucifier? For one second, think, actually think, about the dogma, the ritual that Christians do, that has nothing of Christianity in it… but everything of Rome, even onto the forsaking of the Sabbath.

I honestly don’t care what people believe.

But I do care that your choice of good or evil be informed. Whatever you choose to believe, make it an informed choice.

It’s not evil men that worry me.

It’s the masses that cheer them as they go marching by, too busy to make a choice not handed to them. The careless masses are the engine without which, the dreams of evil men… could not fly.

Try an examined choice.

I’ve done that, and I’ve found I can’t wear lynched or crucified men or the symbols of their suffering around my neck, I can’t bend my knee to bloody priests, and I can’t follow a nation of terror.

But I’m wacky that way, your examined choice may be different.

That’s been my news for today.

Cheery son of a gun, aren’t I?

But it’s past now, my mad fit of absinthe and peyote, it comes only rarely, when the spirit moves.

Perhaps even when the spirit needs,

For a man, supposedly shorn of faith, I do believe in fate.

I needed to speak.

Perhaps becomes someone needed to listen.

Who knows.

Wild is the world, and occasionally wonderful.

But the mad compulsion has left me, until the next blue moon.

Which is fitting, because I find the truth you don’t have to repeat as often as lies. If a lie, it will touch you not, without a constant barrage, and you will be unmoved by my mad ramblings.

But if the truth, it lived in you long before you read these words, and my words simply, like a stone waiting for a sculptor… revealed it.

If the truth you will know it. And if a lie you will know it.

And how you make of that news, something new…. well, who knows, the world is wild and wonderful… his miracles to perform. 🙂

Reasons why any self respecting person should hate X-MEN FIRST CLASS :)

“Along with me I’m gonna need a scientist, an engineer, and of course, a black person to sacrifice himself in case something goes wrong.”
– Eric Cartman, SOUTH PARK, season 9, Cartman’s Hippie Exit Strategy 2006

I don’t even like/watch South Park but that quote is funny and sad because it’s true.

Here it is 21st century and writers/filmmakers from Frank Miller (SIN CITY) to Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman (X-MEN FIRST CLASS) are still crafting films that still perpetuate this bigoted vaudeville/black-face denigration of minorities, particularly Blacks as either victims/sacrifices, hors, criminals, or comedy relief or some effed up combination of the four.

I hear all these people saying X-MEN FIRST CLASS was the best movie of 2011. Are you effing on crack?! This goes to prove what Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka said in an early age… if you live all your life with lies it becomes hard to see anything that has nothing to do with those lies.

I’m saying a population that watches American Idol and thinks X-MEN FIRST CLASS is a good movie and that their country is a democracy, the cowboy on the white hat, has perhaps lived with lies too long. And therefore can’t see the concentration camps paid for with American Tax dollars, and the 24 hour propaganda machine, and how many of us are being herded into new millennium Dachaus.

I’m saying that twisted facts are easy offshoots… of twisted fictions. The dream being father to the reality.

So needless to say Matthew Vaughn’s new X-MEN FIRST CLASS movie will get as much theater money out of me as his first one, which is to say none. I’m drawing the line in the effing sand, I refuse to pay theater prices for any movie made after 1970 (revival films being excluded) that a/ has less than two characters of color and/or b/has characters in boring, tired stereotypical roles.

Which means I’m not going to see effing DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN or PRECIOUS either. I don’t need that crap. Give me instead more OBSESSED and more TAKERS and more BLACK DYNAMITE and more BLOOD AND BONE. Any of those movies are worth a dozen times predictable crap like X-MEN FIRST CLASS (I caught it on DVD from the library, if anyone was wondering).

And what makes me the maddest about that movie is it plays lipservice to liberty and inclusiveness, using Kennedy’s speeches for God’s Sake, and invoking the age of the 1960s, while presenting a completely 50s based message of ethnic characters ‘get in the back of the bus’. And the horrible thing is so many eyes can see this film, and not see it, not see its messages, its bigotry, its failings. Can honestly crank out odious crap like that and think they are somehow being liberal??? Absolutely amazing.

It concerns me that a whole generation is growing up, somehow blind to how off the beam America isn’t just getting… but is. Even to shows like COMMUNITY (see my discussion of) which is dazzlingly bigoted. And the onus isn’t just on the creators, it has to be on the stars. Seemingly the ethnic actors these days are devoid of the social conscience of a Poitier or a Belafonte or a Williamson, and this new generation just takes roles without any larger conversation/consideration about being used as a modern step and fetchit.

Sure you risk being fired if you speak up, but you risk something worse if you don’t. Your soul. You risk walking around like all these sheep, raised and reared on lies, and unable to see anything… if it has nothing to do with those lies.

Here endeth the rant.