Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Luke Cage (review part 2 of 2)

Luke Cage is separated into to different story lines and styles. This might be jarring to some. DD did something similar with its season 2 with some better results. Halfway through the season, the show shifts significantly. It starts out as a street level hero fighting another street level gangster. I found these episodes to be really compelling and fun to watch. However, another main villain literally comes out of the shadows and becomes the main villain front and center. It feels like the show takes a hit creatively and it drops some of the more fun elements from the first half.
Here enters Diamond Back. He's more of a superhero villain than really a Cottonmouth or Kingpin. They did alright building him up, but he is clearly the weaker villain of the three (or four) villains portrayed in the season. He has a very strong connection to Luke Cage in the far past and it helps give us a better look at Cage. Still something is missing with him compared to Cottonmouth. Erik LaRay Harvey plays a convincing off the wall superhero villain with soe crazy and violent scenes with certain gangsters. I like Harvey, but he'd work better in a Defenders series than in Luke Cage.
I may hate Diamond Back, but Woodard's character really shines as the villain in waiting. She might very well be far more powerful than Cottonmouth and Diamond Back. While Diamond Back's ultimate suit is a bit too goofy. (BTW, there is a female version of Diamond Back.)
I also enjoyed the manner in which the Luke Cage writers handled the social issues with police and police brutality. They wrote the episodes in a manner that weaves the heavy message in an organic manner. It felt natural to the way the plot was going. Some of the writers from Marvel Comics should take note. The second half really takes on this element.
I just dig how organic this element of the story line comes out the actions of the superheroes and villain, yet it isn't preachy. Tell your message through the narrative.
I also like the stance Cage took on the problems in the African American communities. He doesn't like the use of the N-word and other things of that make him a hero for minorities. I also like that the show takes on the hip-hop throughout the entire season thanks to Cottonmouth's mouth club and the Biggie picture.
By the way, Rosario Dawson is again really good playing the same character from the other Netflix series.
Despite the shaky second half of the season, I enjoyed the newest Marvel series. The acting from the entire cast is amazing. There are so many great minority actors and actresses that it sometimes it is hard to pick your top ones. It is refreshing to see positive minorities in leading roles without it seeming forced or preachy (looking forward to Black Panther). They've set up season 2 and the Defenders rather nicely.
Grade: B

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