Iron Fist: Yup, it’s just kinda there.

The latest Marvel Netflix outing, Iron Fist, came out last Friday with some pre-emptive strikes from critics.  But keep in mind, critics only saw the first six episodes; I (and many other fans) have now binged the whole thing in less than a week (less than a weekend for some), so I’m here to give my spoiler-free thoughts.

Marvel's Iron Fist

In short, I enjoyed it, and if you were already planning to watch it, or have seen the other shows and are interested in The Defenders, I think you will too.  Just keep your expectations on the low side going in, because it is not nearly as good as the three previous series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage), and if you have no interest in superheroes/the MCU/etc. don’t even bother.

I went into Iron Fist hoping for a kung fu show, but what I got was a corporate drama with some occasional ninjas…sorry, not even ninjas, mostly just random thugs.  Unlike the three previous shows, this show didn’t really have much to say.  Danny Rand’s origin story appears as a watered-down version of Batman or Oliver Queen.  His parents are killed in a plane crash in the Himalayas; he’s rescued to the hidden mystical city of K’un Lun where he trains and earns the title of Iron Fist; he returns to reclaim his parents’ company.

It gets off to a very slow start.  The first episodes that the critics saw could easily have been condensed into two or three with better pacing.  (It even manages to make sex scenes boring.  How does that happen?!) But it does pick up quite a bit in the second half as new characters are introduced and twists revealed, and I really enjoyed the ride.

Unfortunately, we hardly get to see anything of K’un Lun or Danny’s time there.  There are a few flashbacks, but mostly just the same one of his parents dying over and over.  There’s a reason the first season of Arrow worked so well, and I think this show should have taken some notes.  We don’t get any sense of where Danny is coming from until really late in the season, which I think hampers our ability to relate to him and understand his mood swings.

The show also suffers from lack of focus on a villain.  DD season 1, JJ, and the first half of LC all have one thing in common: a strong, compelling, central villain.  There are several antagonists throughout this series, and while some are great (particularly Madame Gao and Harold Meachum), it sometimes felt more like a set-up for the Defenders series than a story for Iron Fist in his own right.

The side characters are the real shining light in the show.  Colleen Wing is great overall and has a great character arc.  The clip of her cage fight in her classic white tracksuit had already convinced me I would like her.  Ward Meachum consistently improves as the series progresses, also getting his own character arc.  Danny’s friend Davos is a wonderful foil for Danny, and I hope we will see more of him in the future.  And Claire Temple immediately breathes life into the show when she appears in episode five.

My biggest disappointment with the show was probably the martial arts action.  Again, it wasn’t bad…it was just kinda there.  I was hoping for a real martial arts show, but the choreography was no more impressive than Daredevil, and I really disliked the use of lots of quick cuts during the fights.  There is a bit of discussion of different styles of martial arts, but I wish they had shown the differences even more, especially when Colleen with her katana faces off against a Chinese wuxia-style fighter.

The best fight comes in episode eight where Danny faces a Hand guardian who’s using the “drunken master” style.  (During that fight, I said to my husband, “Can we keep this guy instead of Danny?”  Because he has about 10x the charisma.)  But if you really want to see a martial arts show, go check out Into the Badlands instead—the first season is now on Netflix and the second season is currently airing on AMC.

I would put this show at least on par with the DC shows currently airing on the CW (Arrow, Flash, etc.)–least anyone think that is an insult, I’ll reiterate that I enjoyed all of them.

Anyone else have opinions?  We can get spoilery down in the comments if you want.

Fan Art Friday: It’s Time to D-D-Duel!

Yu-Gi-Oh! was one of my first anime, so of course it worked its way into my drawings in high school.

Tea card2

I always liked Téa (thought I liked Mai more…).  I traced most of her face (the eyes in particular are too good to be mine), and intended to draw a card in her hand, but I forget which one I was going to draw.

I meant to add more detail to this one, too, but never finished.  Note the glove holding Star Chips from Duelist Kindgom.  The card is the trap card Gift of the Mystical Elf, but her eyes are closed as they appear on the Mystical Elf monster card.  (I don’t know why I did that lol) The Mystical Elf was one of my favorite creatures from the anime.

I never had a chance to play the Yu-Gi-Oh! collector card game, which is like a version of the Duel Monsters card game played in the manga/anime.  But I’ve been playing the Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links app game a lot recently, and it’s very fun.  I even have my own Gift of the Mystical Elf trap card!

The game play is really good, though not identical to the CCG or to the anime.  Several of the familiar cards have different effects/values/etc.

Playing Duel Links inspired me to start watching Yu-Gi-Oh! on Netflix again, especially after I realized I’d never seen all the episodes of Season 2 (the Battle City/Egyptian Gods arc).

My Top 5 Versions of Beauty and the Beast

As I’m looking forward to the new Disney live action version of Beauty and the Beast (early reviews are vaguely positive), I recall the first time I read a Beauty and the Beast story: in elementary school, one of our Reading textbooks had among its folk tales a telling of the traditional French story, complete with illustrations and a pretty page border.

Since then, I’ve developed a great love of fairy tales and have seen and read many version of Beauty and the Beast.  Here are some of my favorites.

OUAT

Once Upon a Time (S1 Ep12 “Skin Deep”)

It’s been a few years since I watched Once Upon a Time, but the first season is particularly enjoyable, and BatB is one of the key fairy tales introduced.  Emilie de Ravin is a charming Belle, and they added some nice twists to the tale (Rumplestilksin is the Beast, and Belle becomes the town librarian) while keeping some nods to the Disney animated movie (Belle’s dresses, the chipped teacup).

Beastly by Alex Flinn

T544891his YA novel updates the BatB story to modern times and also follows the Beast’s perspective.  Kyle Kingsbury is cute, popular, and rich…until he manages to insult a real, live witch at his high school, who turns him into a beast.  His famous father stashes him in a NYC townhouse with only a housekeeper and a blind tutor (plus a chat room for other magically transformed teenagers) for company. Our Belle here is the bookish Lindy, which is short for Linda, the Spanish word for “pretty.”

I gave this book a 4/5 when I first reviewed it.  It’s not my favorite YA fantasy by a long shot, but Kyle is a compelling narrator and it’s a nice urban update on the tale.

Masque by W.R. Gingell

I just re-read this book again recently; it was one of my great 29481285finds of 2016.  The BatB story is nestled inside a murder mystery filled with magic and intrigue.  Lady Isabella “Belle” Farrah is one of my favorite protagonists of all time.  She has such quick wit and emotional control, yet still manages to grow over the course of the book.

This book will appeal to fans of historical romance, fantasy, mystery, or even steampunk genres.  There’s so much to love!  Check out my original review here, or you can pick it up for cheap on Kindle on Amazon.

Beauty by Robin McKinley

8084This is a classic fairy tale novelization and was key in my (and I’m sure many other’s) love of the genre.  It’s a very traditional, novel-length telling, and pretty much a YA book before YA was a genre.  There’s no surprises here, just a great story with lovely writing.

Beauty is currently available as part of a $15 Humble Bundle of  “Women Of Science Fiction and Fantasy.” 

McKinley decided to revisited BatB twenty years later with Rose Daughter, which is a more daring, quirky take.  I like it a lot, too, but it’s not quite the classic that Beauty is.

 

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

This movie came out when I was about five years old; consequently it was one of the first Disney movies I saw, and it has remained a favorite throughout the years.  The opening sequence contains some of the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen.  And the songs!  I can still sing them all.  It stands tall as part of the Disney Renaissance, and was even the first animated movie to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Image result for beauty and the beast 1991
I picked this movie poster for an image because we used to have a giant puzzle of it.

 

What’s your favorite version of Beauty and the Beast?

Five years blogging

Today is my fifth blogiversay!  Happy Birthday, Jedi by Knight!

blogiversary2.pngI can’t believe I’ve been doing this for five years.  Hopefully I’ll be doing it for many more!  So far my blog has seen me through dozens of book reviews, Weekly Photo Challenges, coloring book pictures, K-pop videos, and so on.  Sometimes five years seems like no time at all, and sometimes it seems like an eternity.

This year, I’m going to be focusing more on science (which is my day job here on the blog.  I’m planning a series of posts aimed at non-scientists on how to analyse the scientific studies you see reported in the news.  I’m also going to open the floor for any questions my readers have for me as a scientist.

Since I didn’t do a yearly wrap-up at the end of 2016, I’ll briefly mention a few stats here.  My blog has had about 41,000 views over its lifetime.  My most popular posts have been:

  1. There is no hot air balloon in Around the World in Eighty Days

  2. Famous Introvert-Extrovert Pairs

  3. We all got a chicken-duck-woman-thing waiting for us: Star Wars Bad Lip Reading

  4. Who’s that Pokémon…girl?

  5. Who is the Pilot? (Reached review)

  6. Introvert Challenge: Getting a Haircut

Thank you so much to all of you who have read, liked, or commented here in the past five years.  I truly appreciate each and every one of you.  It’s really thanks to you that I’ve been blogging this long.  Please keep reading in the future!

Fan Art Friday: Lightsaber battle

Welcome back to our Star Wars coloring book club, where Kiri at Star Wars Anonymous and I color the same image every month to compare and contrast.

Not gonna lie, this is probably my least favorite picture I’ve done.  I don’t really hate it, it’s just totally blahhhh.  I hope Kiri’s turned out better. (Spoiler alert: it totally did!  Check out her awesome Mustafar-themed picture here!)

The background design reminded me of a circle of  Imperial Royal Guards with their red hoods, observing the battle, so I colored it all in varying reds, which ended up being too much red together.  Also, I hadn’t looked at the lightsaber hilts yet: the left blue one is Obi-Wan’s, and the right red one is Vader’s, recreating their showdown on the Death Star.  But now the red lightsaber doesn’t stand out at all.  I tried to add some shadowing to help, but, meh.

For the rest, I tried to focus on colors of other lightsabers, so we have some Jedi green, blue, and of course purple for the one and only Mace Windu.  I considered doing some magenta for Mara Jade or silver for Corran Horn, but that seemed too difficult.

Here’s my pick for next month:

wp-1488516864006.jpg