Marvel Defenders Review. How bad Is It?

That’s a question I have been hearing lately. It’s like people are just assuming that it will be pretty bad, especially after the way so many were disappointed with Iron Fist season one. So how bad is it?

The first review I saw included the complaint “it’s so boring. It’s all talk and no action.” The second review I read mentioned how “it’s hard to connect with because there isn’t enough story between the constant fight scenes.”

Later, I came across a review by someone who was upset that the characters weren’t presented very well and that “Defenders undoes everything that the characters accomplished in their own series.” That was followed by a review that said the best part was that the series built upon what went before and actually had a significant impact upon the characters.

So… what did I think?

To me, this was one potentially the best Netflix Marvel series yet. I won’t say it was without flaws, but it was quite enjoyable, It was a good culmination of the previous series’s storylines and did a good job of involving the many characters. I’ll try and tackle a few of the key complaints and give my views.

The Heroes

I think everyone was pretty well-presented. I thought that they were all consistent with their previous appearances and each character was impacted by the story, which was nice. Often in this type of thing, there is no real character development because that is saved for the character’s own show, but each character had at least some growth– though Iron Fist and Daredevil obviously benefitted the most from the storlyine, as it tied in directly to their origins.

On the topic of Danny Rand, I never personally had any issue with him. Yes, he’s dumb at times… well, fairly often… but he is well-meaning and I think he is representative of how a lot of people might react in his situation. Remember those days when people liked Marvel heroes because they tended to be flawed, “normal” people?

I like Danny because he is a good person, who manages to screw up, but wants to do the right thing. He has been through a lot, and I personally think it makes sense for him to suffer from PTSD given the loss of his parents, the training/ beatings he received in K’un Lun and the mystical, possibly rather-mindbending experiences he has had. He is deeply flawed, but it leaves a lot of room for growth, and he experiences some of that here.

Matt Murdock has his own arc involving his desire to stop being Daredevil and live a normal life at the start of the show, to realising that “this is my life” later on. He accepts his role as Daredevil and seems to come to terms with it, at least for now.

Jessica Jones starts the series in an even darker frame of mind than in her own series, but likely because of the resolution of her enounter with the Purple Man (Kilgrave). She is even harder-drinking than before (if possible) and seems to have abandoned any concern for anyone outside of her immediate circle of Malcolm and Trish.Her attitude and nasty quips are what make her fun in this series, however, as she continually mocks both Danny and Matt– especially when he’s in costume. It’s actually the interraction with Matt that gives her some development however, as she starts to show some respect for him and by the end of the series, genuine concern. By the last time we see her, she is ready to start being part of society again.

Luke Cage probably has the least development, but even he has some nice moments with Jess, a brief nod toward the comic book relationship he has with Danny, and he gets to act in a couple of scenes as the moral compass of the team. I may or may not be the only one who is hoping to see him back with Jess at some point, so I was happy to see that there remains real affection and caring between them. Jessica even suggest that perhaps they will “have coffee” again sometime.

Even the supporitng characters have roles to play, to one degree or another. The big winners here are Colleen Wing– whose story wraps up her experiences from Iron Fist nicely– and Claire, who continues to be a voice of reason and a grounding force for the team.

The Villains

I know that some people are pretty sick of the hand, though honestly, we haven’t seen that much of them, when taking all 4 series (now 5) into account, and the fact is that they are supposed to be massively influential and integrated into all parts of society, so it kind of makes sense that they would be, you know, present.

I happen to really like Madame Gao. I find her interesting, quite possibly due to the portrayal by Wai Ching Ho, but also due to her mysterious past, which is elaborated on here. Despite being one of the primary villains, I found myself constantly hoping she would survive the series.

There seems to be some difference of opinion about Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra, though most of the negative views are centered around the character as written, not her portrayal. I thought she was great in every scene she had, though I agree that she never really exuded the sense of menace that the writing tried to portray. She had one brief physical encounter with Stick, which was meant to show her fighting ability, but I had a hard time taking it seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I think she is a geat actress, but I am glad they didn’t try to do too much of the physical stuff with her.

Rounding out the villains were the other leaders of the Hand: Bakuto (last seen in Iron Fist), Sowande and Murakami. Each of them, like Alexandra and Gao, had once studied in K’un Lun, but eventually turned their thoughts from healing to immortality and were cast out. Having lived countless lifetimes, they build the Hand into a global organization with massive influence, all while remaining hidden.

The In-Between

Then there’s Elektra, Matt’s former lover, brought back from the dead by Alexandra to somehow help the Hand fulfill their goals in New York. I put Elektra somewhere in between the heroes and the villains because even though she is definitely much more on the villain side, there is still good in her, as Matt keeps trying to convince her, and she continually passes on opportunites that she has to kill not only Matt, but one would assume the other Defenders as well.

Elektra is not my favourite character in this series, but she is clearly the most effective physical presence on the “villain” side and thus one of the biggest threats throughout.

The Story

Ok, so, let’s be honest: the story is not spectacular. It certainly isn’t as bad as some are implying, but it is a bit weak and does have it’s share of illogical moments and inconsistencies. The entire Black Sky storyline with Elektra is fantastically anti-climactic, and the ultimate goals of the Hand remain somewhat nebulous. Their stated intention of returning to K’un Lun is all well and good, but the focus of their efforts is entering a sealed dome under New York, where they expect to gain more of the substance, which is responsible for their longevity and ability to resurrect their members.

It’s implied (at least, I took it this way) that the Hand has undertaken this sort of endeavour before in places like Pompei and Chrnobyl, resulting in mass destruction. This time, however, they encounter a new difficulty in that the dome beneath New York has been sealed by a previous Iron Fist. Gao says that this is the first time that they have encountered such a thing, and all implications are that this one particular location will be the ultimate culmination of centuries of work by the Hand… The only problem is, they never say what’s so special about it. Once the seal on the dome is boken, there doesn’t seem to be anything that they haven’t encountered dozens of times in the past.

At the end of the day, I didn’t complain too much about this because the story was basically just a means to get the characters together, but if too much time is spent contemplating it, it becomes increasingly frustrating that they didn’t follow through on years of build-up.

Overall

I am not going to be too negative about the Defenders. I enjoyed it. I loved seeing the characters together, I liked the hints of what could come (Heroes for Hire, Daughters of the Dragon), and it did manage to set up the characters for their respective series’s returns.

It may not have been everything we hoped for, but overall it was fun and enjoyable. It was the only Marvel Netflix series to date that made me gasp audibly at one event, and shed a few tears at another.It has given me renewed hope for the Marvel Netflix universe.

At least until Disney pulls out. But that’s another story for another time.

What did you think about The Defenders? Let’s talk !

No Man’s Sky Reviews Agree: It’s Getting Better

When No Man’s Sky released, I was so excited. From everything I had read, I was sure that it would be the game I had dreamed about fo so long.The sheer size of it and the open world (universe) aspect of it appealed to me immensely and I had all sorts of thoughts about the things I would be able to do and see in the game. Saying I was excited is actually quite the understatement.

Not Quite What We Expected

When the game actually released, it seemed like virtually everyone I knew was disappointed. No Man’s Sky reviews everywhere seemed to be rather negative. I had friends who had bought it, but then like a number of others, sought to be refunded. I didn’t want to refund it, however. I just wanted it to be a great game.

For the most part, when I first started playing, I actually liked it. I had some issues with it, such as not likeing some of the controls and the ridiculously low draw distance that had things popping up only when I was almost on top of them if I was moving too fast, but I actually liked it. I liked the idea that I would be the first person– and given the size of the game, perhaps the only person ever– to set foot on a given planet. I would be seeing things that no one else was seeing. I would be experiencing a totally unique game.

There were some story elements that I didn’t like though. Given the size of the game, I couldn’t understand how the alien races encountered could be spread out over such a massive distance. I didn’t understand how the Sentinels could be on every single one of the 18 quintillion or so planets… That broke immersion for me.Plus, the game was just too open for me. I like to have some back story. While I appreciate (love, actually) the ability to make my character be anyone I want, I also want to have a bit of story to fit them into the setting in a logical manner.

So Much Variety With So Much Repetition

One of the selling points for NMS was that everything would be procedurally generated and we would be seeing, in theory, so much unique content. That kind of fell flat,  however, when after taking a couple of hours to explore my starting planet, I set off into space and eagerly warped to my closest planetary neighbour, excited by all the new discoveries I was sure to make. Sadly, even though this was only my second planet, I found that everything seemed to look the same. Same plants. Same abandoned alien buildings. Remarkably similar creatures.

Still, despite that disappoinment, there was something that I just liked about the game. The exploration was pretty chill. Wandering around collecting the resources I needed was strangely relaxing, and there were moments when I did come across a rather attractive landscape. I thought that this could be a great game to lose myself in.

After a couple of days, however, I’d had enough. I wasn’t getting any sense of a narrative in the game, and collecting resources to power my ship so that I could fly off somewhere in order to… collect resources to power my ship grew very tiring. I still had a strange affection for it, and I still really wanted to love the game, but I found that I just couldn’t maintain the interest to keep playing when I had other games vying for my attention. I stopped playing, then after a couple of months of not touching it, I uninstalled it.

Laying a Foundation for the Future

When the Foundation update was released, I was drawn back to the game. So many cool new things had been added! I was excited all over again! However, much like my experience with games such as The SIms, the idea of building a base was much more appealing than actually doing it. The Foundation update was a great first step in adding content and variety to the game, but I found that it wasn’t quite enough for me personally. I found myself playing for a couple of hours, only to uninstall it yet again.

I started watching videos for games like Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous, and they both caught my attention in a manner very similar to the way NMS had done before it released, but both had the added appeal of more realistic graphics and settings, with a greater concentration on story. While I doubt I will have a PC capable of running Star Citizen any time soon, I started to obsess over Elite: Dangerous, thinking that it could very well be the game that I had hoped No Man’s Sky would be.

When it came out, I grabbed Elite: Dangerous and immediately put in a number of hours exploring and getting to know the universe. I loved it, even though many people complain that there is “nothing to do”. Just the simple act of exploring space was enough for me, especially with the ability to create a character that I could actually see and enough of a backstory (which I am still learning) to allow me to invest myself in the lore.

I kept reading up on No Man’s Sky, however, as part of me missed the game and still had hope for what it could become.

Atlas Rises

Buy it now at Amazon
Buy it now at Amazon

Now, a year after release, we have the latest update, Atlas Rises, which once again brings a host of changes and improvements to the game. What I welcome the most, however, is the addition of the Mission Agent, who hands out various tasks to be completed for rewards, and a new story, which is promised to run approximately 30 hours.

After all this time, No Man’s Sky has given me enough of a story to sink my teeth into and become invested in the game. I have done a number of Mission Agent mission, which are pretty simple, but seem to offer decent rewards, and have started upon the new storyline, which has proven to be more engaging than I had anticipated.

I have even put down Elite: Dangerous to return to No Man’s Sky’s universe and am actually considering creating a base at long last.

If you have tried No Man’s Sky in the past and found that it fell short for you, you may just find it worthwhile to give it another shot. I am personally quite happy witht he improvements and additions, though I was also somewhat predisposed to likeing them, as I have been pulling for the game to succeed despite my on-again, off-again relationship with it.

This universe is worth exploring again.

If you decide to return to No Man’s Sky, or if you are trying it for the first time, let me now what you think. I’d love to hear some other reactions to what it now offers and what is to come in the future.

Craig