Series Review: The Punisher – Season 1 (2017)

I don’t really think I need to make an introduction for this. I’ve talked about this show several times on this blog before, every time reminding you of my excitement for the show. So let’s just get into the review and see if this show is any good.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is season 1 of… “The Punisher”!

After he has seemingly killed the people responsible for the death of his family, Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) soon uncovers a deep and complex conspiracy that somehow relates back to his past as a soldier. So now Frank has to find out what the hell is going on while a Homeland Security agent (Amber Rose Revah) gets a whiff of him being back in town. So now we have our comic book thriller. And is this plot any good? Yeah, it is. It’s not a fast-paced action/revenge plot, but it’s a slightly slower conspiracy thriller that features Punisher, and I think the plot here is very intriguing. My only gripe with it is in one of the early episodes. It’s not bad, but the pacing at one point dragged a little bit. But overall here we have a surprisingly deep plot that isn’t afraid to tackle dark and socially relevant themes regarding guns, violence, vigilantism, PTSD, black ops, family, and it is all incredibly engaging and intriguing. ’tis a great plot.

The characters here are flawed, damaged, layered, and just really interesting. Jon Bernthal (like in season 2 of “Daredevil”) plays Frank Castle/The Punisher, former soldier turned violent vigilante. Already in “Daredevil” he got a fair amount of development as a character, and they somehow managed to cram in a bit more here. As we follow him through the season we see how the war, death of his family, and the vigilantism has taken a toll on him and how it messes with his mind a bit. And it is all incredibly engaging. He’s of course also a motherfucking badass, but that didn’t need to be mentioned. And Bernthal is once again fantastic in the role. Amber Rose Revah plays Dinah Madani, the Homeland Security agent on Frank’s trail. She’s a tough and determined woman who wants to find Frank and possibly get justice. But she’s not just some brash and unstoppable idiot, as she at times is shown as vulnerable, but in a good way. And Revah is great in the role. Ebon Moss-Bachrach plays David Lieberman (AKA Micro), a skilled hacker and whistleblower that Frank teams up with to try to solve this conspiracy. And he brings a much needed levity to the dark and grim tale of “The Punisher” without coming off as forced or out of place. He is funny, but he is also a serious character with a good dramatic arc. And Moss-Bachrach is great in the role. Then we have Ben Barnes as Billy Russo, Frank old best friend that I will not talk too much about since it’s too easy to get a bit spoiler-y with him. But he has somewhat of an arc and Barnes is great in the role. And then (to not ramble or give too many character details here) in various supporting performances we have people like Jamie Ray Newman, Kobi Frumer, Deborah Ann Woll, Paul Schulze, Michael Nathanson, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Jason R. Moore, Daniel Webber, Kelli Barrett, C. Thomas Howell, and they all are great in this. Really, it’s a great cast.

The score for the show was composed by Tyler Bates, and it was great. What we have here is a tense, exciting, dramatic, emotional, badass, and just overall interesting score that takes heavy influence from rock and blues to create a fairly unique sound for a show like this. It’s not straight-up rock or blues, but there are traces of it in the score and I like that, makes it sound almost a bit western-y at times. And it all works very well for the show. There are also a couple of licensed tracks used throughout and they all work well in their respective scenes.

The show was created by Steve Lightfoot and written/directed by a whole bunch of different people (with Lightfoot having written a couple of episodes). And I think they did a good job here. While it’s not as action-packed as the trailer made it out to be, there is still action here. And when action happens it is exciting, badass, and brutal. Not just brutal as in a lot of blood being spilled, but brutal as in the violence having a real impact here. And it’s not just gunshots penetrating bodies, there’s also close quarters fighting, and knives, and various other things used throughout to create the memorable and brutal as fuck violence. And the directing and such in the less action-based scenes is good too… got a little sidetracked there, I usually save action for after overall directing… oh well, c’est la vie.

This show just came out, but it has already gotten some mixed reception. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 67% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 54/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 9,6/10 (though this is very likely to change).

Season 1 of “The Punisher” is pretty damn great. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/action. My only flaw was the slight pacing problem in one episode, but it doesn’t really bring it down too much for me. Time for my final score. *One batch, two batch, penny and dime*. My final score for “The Punisher” season 1 is a 9,52/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Punisher” season 1 is now completed.

I really want to get into the comics.

Series Review: The Expanse – Season 2 (2017)

As some of you might remember, I reviewed the first season of this show a couple of weeks back. You might then also remember that I kind of loved it. So, now that season 2 is watched, the question is: Is it any good? Let’s find out. Oh and by the way, there will be some spoilers for season 1 here. So if you haven’t seen that first season, maybe go catch up and come back. Or you just don’t care. Anyhow, let’s get on with the review.

Ladies and gentlemen… “The Expanse” season 2!

After they discovered the Protomolecule and succesfully escaped from Eros, the crew of the Rocinante (Steven Strait, Cas Anvar, Dominique Tipper, Wes Chatham) and detective Miller (Thomas Jane) are once again out in space. So now they have to find out who/what’s behind this infection and also if there’s a way to fully stop it. We also once again follow Chrisjen (Shohreh Agdashloo) as she navigates the tough world of politics, trying to keep the tense relationship between Earth and Mars from brewing into a full blown war. I’m not gonna dilly-dally too much… fuck me, the plot here is fantastic! The conspiracy/mystery behind the Protomolecule that Holden and gang have to solve is extremely fascinating and helps give a bit more depth to the universe. And the political side of the plot is extremely interesting, adding a surprising amount of tension to everything that happens throughout the 13 episodes. That’s right, this season is 13 episode long instead of 10. Increasing the amount of episodes like that can sometimes go poorly, but here they handle it spectacularly. It is overall a bigger season in every sense of the word, and while “bigger doesn’t mean better” can apply to a lot of situations, this isn’t one of them… the expansion of “The Expanse” (HA!) is very well handled.  The plot here is dramatic, exciting, suspenseful, intense, and just overall fantastic!

The characters in season 1 were already quite interesting, and here in season 2 they get even more development, and not just singularly, but the relationships are developed a bit more too. Steven Strait once again played Jim Holden and while he at times can seem a little dumb in his decisions, he’s still an incredibly interesting character. And Strait is great in the role. Dominique Tipper returned as Naomi Nagata, a very clever woman who can let her emotions get the best of her at times. And Tipper is great in the role. Cas Anvar returned as Alex Kamal (my favorite character in season 1), the Martian-born pilot of the Rocinante. Like in season 1, he is quite a funny character, but he’s also given a lot of good dramatic moments that really helps make the character even more compelling, and Anvar is great in the role. Wes Chatham returned as Amos Burton, the Roci’s resident knucklehead. But he’s not just a big, dumb piece of bicep, he is also a character that clearly cares about his friends. And after he experiences something in the season (no spoilers), he gets some dramatic weight to him. And Chatham is great in the role. Shohreh  Aghdashloo returned as Chrisjen Avasarala, the extremely interesting UN politician. She knows how to cleverly mainpulate people to get her will across, without seeming like a villain. And Aghdashloo is fantastic in the role. Thomas Jane returned as detective Miller, the stubborn man out to do his job. I don’t wanna say more about him because there’s some spoiler-y stuff. So I’ll just leave that by saying that Jane is really good in the role. Now let’s talk about the newcomer of the season. This season introduced us to Roberta “Bobbie” Draper, a Martian soldier who goes through some shit. She’s played by Frankie Adams and she’s great in the role. We also get some killer supoorting performances throughout from people like Jared Harris, Chad L. Coleman, François Chau, Hugh Dillon, Shawn Doyle, and various other actors.

The score, like in season 1, was composed by Clinton Shorter and it’s just as great as season 1. Dramatic, tense, epic, cool, and it just overall fits the show perfectly. Really, there’s not much else I can say here.

Like I said in my review of season 1, this show was created by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby and written/directed by a whole bunch of people. Season 1 was very well directed, making use of the claustrophobic ships, the futuristic/shit towns, and the big, open space to create a tense atmosphere. And they nailed it once again, making perfect use of their sets/environments. And the shots look great, with some interesting cinematography. And yes, there are some shootouts here and they are very well handled. I also have to mention, in season 1 the effects were great… but here they really upped their game. They seem to have given the CGI some extra polish/work because holy shit, it looks even better than in season 1 (somehow). They even have space battles which are handled in a very realistic but still exciting way. This show really is pure eye candy.

This show/season has been quite well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 94% positive rating. On Metacritic it has a score of 77/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

“The Expanse” season 2 manages to be both bigger and better than the (excellent) first season. It has a fantastic plot, great characters, fantastic performances, great music, fantastic directing, and fantastic visual effects. Time for my final score. *Space*. My final score for “The Expanse” season 2 is a 9,97/10. This of course means that it gets the one and only “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Expanse” season 2 is now completed.

I’m still stunned that a show this good can come from the same channel as “Sharknado” and “Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus”. 

Series Review: The Expanse – Season 1 (2015 – 2016)

Space, the final frontier. Alright, that is enough “Star Trek” for now. Time to move on to a different science fiction thing.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the first season of… “The Expanse”.

The Canterbury is a giant ship flying around in outer space collecting ice. During one of their missions they get a distress call and part of the crew gets sent out to investigate it. At the same in a different location we follow detective Joe Miller (Thomas Jane) as he is trying to find a missing woman who happens to be the daughter of a very important businessman. And soon we find out that these two seemingly unrelated stories might be connected somehow. So now we have a sci-fi story that actually turned out to be pretty fucking good. The story of the Canterbury crew makes for an exciting space-thriller, with Detective Miller’s story makes for an intriguing detective noir. But none of them feel out of place in any way, as they complement each other very well. The season also gives us a good look at the politics and such of this universe, which helps everything feel more deep and well realized. And the political stuff actually has a purpose in the story and it’s a welcome addition. The plot also takes a few interesting twists and turns throughout that I didn’t expect. So yeah, the plot here is great.

The characters in this movie are all interesting and get a fair amount of development over the ten episode season. Thomas Jane (sporting an interesting haircut) plays Joe Miller, a detective who’s determined to find this missing woman. And Thomas Jane is really good in the role, giving one of the best performances I’ve seen from him. Steven Strait plays Jim Holden, one of the people from the Canterbury investigating the distress call. He can often seem like he’s making dumb decisions, but the more time we spend with him over the season, the more we understand why he does that. And Strait is great in the role. Dominique Tipper plays Naomi Nagata, another one of the Canterbury crew members. She’s a tough and determined woman who wants to get the job done soon, and Tipper is great in the role. Cas Anvar plays Alex Kamal, the pilot who goes along to investigate the distress call, and he’s probably the closest thing we have to comic relief in the show. I mean, he does get some of the funnier lines in the show, but his humor never clashes with the overall serious tone of the season, and he does have serious moments in the season. And Anvar is great in the role. Wes Chatham plays Amos Burton, another member of the Canterbury crew. He’s basically the muscle of the group, I’d even say that he’s kind of a knucklehead. But he’s not a bad guy, he’s just impulsive and brash. And Chatham does a good job in the role. Shohreh Aghdashloo (aside from having one of the most unique voices ever) plays Chrisjen Avasarala, a politician on Earth, and she’s terrific in the role. Then we get a lot of solid supporting performances throughout the show from people like Shawn Doyle, Chad L. Coleman, Elias Toufexis, Jared Harris, and Jay Hernandez. So yeah, this is a very well acted show.

The score for the show was composed by Clinton Shorter and I think he did a great job. His score doesn’t really do anything original in terms of a sci-fi score, but the overall execution is great. The score is tense, exciting, inspiring, and just overall fit the show very well.

“The Expanse” was created by Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, and is based on the book series of the same named written by Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck under the shared pseudonym James S. A. Corey. I haven’t read any of the books, so I can’t speak on if this is a good adaptation or not, but I can at least speak on it as it’s own show. And what Fergus, Ostby, and any other writers/directors managed to create is pretty fantastic. It’s a very well directed show with a lot of suspense being created even when very little is happening. It has a cold and kind of blue look, really making it feel like a different world than our own. There are also a lot of cool sets in this show. Sure, we’ve seen very similar things before in other shows and movies and even video games, but that doesn’t discredit any of the sets on display here… because they’re great. And the CGI, especially on a TV budget, looks fantastic. Definitely some of the best effects I’ve ever seen in a TV show. And to answer your question, yes there is action in this show. It isn’t the main focus, but action does happen in this show. And when it does it is fun and exciting and badass.

This show/season has been pretty well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 65/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,3/10.

“The Expanse” season 1 is pretty fucking great. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, great directing, and fantastic visual effects. Time for my final score. *Ahem*. My final score for season 1 of “The Expanse” is a 9,93/10. Which means that it of course gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Expanse” season 1 is now completed.

Bit of “Star Trek”, a splash of “Mass Effect”, bit of detective noir and voila… good show!