MARVEL'S JESSICA JONES
The partnership between Marvel and Netflix really hit the ground running earlier this year with "Daredevil." I will admit that I had my reservations at first with a new host of television shows set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I was curious as Hell to see what they were going to do. "Daredevil" felt like a bomb going off, after the initial trailers, I was expecting it to be good, I just didn't know it was going to be that good. "Daredevil" was a show I liked quite a bit. After that this Netflix experiment earned my trust, and I could not wait to see what was next. Jessica Jones the character is very different from other characters. Yes, Jessica Jones has superpowers, but she doesn't really put on a super-suit and have at supervillains, not quite. In the comic books, Jones had a small stint as a superhero, but that evaporated quickly. So she opened her own private eye service in New York City afterward. Could Netflix and Marvel make the character work?
Much like Jessica Jones was a different character compared to other superheroes in the comic books, "Jessica Jones" the television show is much different compared to "Daredevil" or other MCU shows. Heck, its different compared to any other comic book or superhero show on TV right now. If you are going in expecting something like "Daredevil," you maybe a bit disappointed. While "Daredevil" is a serious and darker show than any of the MCU shows and movies, it still had the excitement of any superhero show. "Jessica Jones" isn't really like that, even though there are characters who have superpowers and they occasionally discuss Captain America and Hulk on the show, I'd barely call this a superhero show. Jessica Jones is a private eye and her show is very much a crime thriller more than anything. I'd even go far to say that the show ventures into psychological thriller at times. The show works as a slow burn for a healthy part of the season, and on the very first episode, you can barely understand what is going on with the characters. If you sitting down to "Jessica Jones" expecting a full-fledged superhero show, you might want to watch something else, because the ship doesn't really dock there.
If you don't mind something different as the MCU continues its world-building, then "Jessica Jones" is another home run for Marvel and Netflix. I am now more excited then ever for the next two Netflix shows and "The Defenders" mini-series coming soon too. I grew up loving film noir, mysteries and crime thrillers. So at a personal standpoint, "Jessica Jones" was right up my alley. If you like those genres, I would recommend "Jessica Jones" highly. Especially if you don't mind a private eye who can break locks with her bare hands and glide in the air.
Jessica Jones didn't start out as a superhero as she did in the comics. She starts her Private Investigation firm as a way to get away from her past. She doesn't consider herself a good person, and its not her fault. She has lots of skeletons in her closet that she is guilty about. From gaining superpowers from a freak accident that killed her parents, to being psychologically damaged by Kevin Kilgrave (David Tennant), she is trying to pick up the pieces of her life for something good. As a budding private eye, she already has her hands full. With her best friend Trish Walker (Racheal Taylor) being stalked, or her lawyer Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Ann Moss) getting over her divorce, or helping Luke Cage (Mike Colter) a charming and mysterious bartender with favors. Everything seems to halt when Kilgrave returns from Jones' past, apparently not dead as he was believed to be and he will affect not just Jones' life, but everyone in her orbit.
When it was announced that Krysten Ritter was going to play Jessica Jones, I was interested to see what Marvel saw in her. They announced four different actresses in the running for the character and she was about dead-last on my predictions and fan-casting for the role. I have to say that Ritter absolutely kills the role. She plays Jones' broken emotions dead on and she makes Jessica Jones a believable person, not just someone with superpowers. Jessica Jones is a character who is responsible for lots of pain, on herself and others around her, and Ritter makes you believe in all of it. This is a huge breakout for Ritter, and I hope she is all the more popular because of it. She even handles the very few spontaneous moments of humor well.
Kevin Kilgrave is such a great villain, and he is brought to astounding life in by David Tennant. Kilgrave is a guy with absolutely profound mind-control powers. How profound? Well, in the first episode, she gets a girl to shoot her parents dead. In another episode he gets his father to put his hand into a blender. These are just two of several horrendous acts Kilgrave unleashes on people, and what he does to Jessica Jones over her life is even worse. Much like Wilson Fisk in the "Daredevil" series, spending the whole season focusing on one villain helps the show tremendously. In fact, its pretty much Kilgrave who is the only adversary on the show, and Tennant is given ample time to really flesh him out. Its a great role for Tennant, who we usually don't see in villain roles, but he pours as much power and ambition into this role and it pays off every episode.
There are two key performances in this show that I think stick out more than others. The first is the character Malcolm played by Eka Darville. Malcolm is a junkie who lives down the hall from Jones, and the two become friends. Much like Jones, Malcolm has lots of secrets he's not proud of and the way Malcolm and Jones bounce off of each other is both powerful and engrossing. Its a character that matters more than they should and Darville does very good work making Malcolm count over the course of the season. The second greater than average character is Trish Walker played by Racheal Taylor. Trish and Jessica have been through everything together, as Trish's family took Jessica in after Jessica's family died. The performance by Taylor really shows an aged friendship and bond between the two girls. It feels like a relationship that has been lifelong, and I give both actresses credit for making it come alive. The work by Carrie-Ann Moss is also very good and I can't wait to see Colter in his own "Luke Cage" show, that guy is just great! I also liked the work by Erin Moriarty, whose character Hope sets up the entire season, very good work.
In fact, the only thing that really disappointed me about the show was the action scenes. In "Daredevil," because Daredevil was a character who had no super-strength, the fights felt more personal and more believable. The fights in that show felt raw and realistic and there was a sense of urgency to the action. In "Jessica Jones," everything ends before it really begins. Jessica Jones has super-strength, as does Luke Cage, who also has unbreakable skin. These two spend the show throwing people around. There is no sense of tension or urgency to any of the fights, and that is always a risk when making stories were superpowered people fight regular people. With that said, the fight scenes are far and in between, this is much more story-oriented and its the work of the characters really drive the story well.
Overall, this is another great show for Netflix. I liked the episode with Claire Temple, who had several episodes on "Daredevil" and she is once again played Rosario Dawson. I loved the opening credits scene for the show, very comic book-like and set the mood for the overall season. I liked the private eye-ish music by Sean Callery. This is a cast and crew that fully embraced what these characters are about, which is what Marvel is getting exceedingly good at.