Monday Morning Critic – Netflix’s Daredevil Binged And Reviewed – Also, On Kevin James & Why The Paul Blart Franchise Is The True Spiritual Successor to Bruce Willis’s Die Hard

MMC

I was going to write on how Spider-Man, which is going to be launched AGAIN by Marvel, should focus away from his high school days and focus on something different. They’re going back to teenage Peter Parker, of course, but the crazy thing is that I’ve already written on this topic before. There’s nothing new to say other than to yawn and move on. It won’t be a reboot but Spider-Man is going to be a teenager running around New York. It’s easy to fit him back into the Marvel Universe that way, of course, and I get it.

I just don’t want to write about it because I’m fairly satisfied with what I wrote back then. Plus nothing interesting will ever come out Spider-Man as a cinematic character in terms of his age; he’ll always be a teenager

What intrigues me is the upcoming Paul Blart sequel, which has taken up the mantle of being what Die Hard should be as a film franchise. We really should’ve stopped calling the Die Hard sequels by that name after Die Harder, to be fair. Starting with Die Hard with a Vengeance the franchise has basically been mediocre action scripts that have been adapted for John McClane as opposed to organic concepts that have sprung forth. Vengeance was originally Simon Says and adapted to fit the Die Hard model and each sequel afterwards has moved away from being in the spirit of the original in exchange for generic action film shenanigans.

It’s why the sequels haven’t been films I’ve been excited about watching. And it’s why we really should consider Paul Blart and its upcoming sequel the real Die Hard franchise as of this moment. Why? Because it understands why the original Die Hard and its sequel worked on the grander scale even if its a slapstick, PG version that could be called Mall Hard.

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The reason why the first two Die Hard films worked on such a higher level was because they understood what made John McClane a relevant, interesting character in the first place. One man, with nothing but his wits and what he can scavenge, against a much better armed force is a compelling story. That’s what made Paul Blart somewhat interesting as a film. I didn’t care for it, of course, but enough people did that it’s getting a sequel. And the one thing that they got right is that they are adopting the Die Hard model for Paul Blart’s second venture against terrorists.

They’re keeping it confined to one location … and keeping Blart as the comical “right guy, wrong place” type that made John McClane so compelling is the right thing to do.

For all the awfulness that Paul Blart and most likely its sequel will entail the one thing I will give them as a credit going in is that they’re sticking to what made the first film work. It may be bigger and such, because it’s a sequel after all, but Paul Blart vs. terrorists in one location is still an interesting concept. It may be Kevin James, the big fat guy falling down and other shenanigans, but the concept of one man using nothing but his wits has been an action movie staple since the genre was invented. It’s why the “Die Hard on a [blank]” concept was a money maker for Hollywood for so long that they beat into the ground as effectively as they’re beating the superhero/comic book film into the ground right now.

Even Die Hard evolved away from it over time because of films like Under Siege, et al, and it’s very rare for an action film these days to follow the Die Hard formula. I’d have thought that Paul Blart would be globe trotting for the sequel, needing to do something in Abu Dhabi and such to save the day, but the fact that Blart is now saving a hotel from terrorists is interesting on many levels because it’s repeating the pattern few action films are willing to take these days. Even the Fast & Furious franchise has gone from being about street racing to just a generic action franchise about a team of superhero types.

The fact that Blart is getting bigger, but repeating the formula that worked the first time, is a rarity in action films these days. It’s why so far it’s the spiritual successor to Bruce Willis’s signature franchise. When Blart with a Vengeance comes out, and he’s dropped into the middle of a mall with a sign that says “I hate teenagers” on, I’ll eat my words. And admittedly this is going to be a sucktacular film that winds up making an ungodly sum because of the general stupidity of many film-goers. But I’ll give credit where credit is due: so far, Kevin James is showing that he at least understands that Blart works because it’s a low rent, Die Hard wannabe for people who like fart jokes and not just turning it into a generic action franchise … for people who like fart jokes.

Stuff for General George S. Pimpage, Esq

I tackled The Missing on Blu-Ray.

Joe Corey tackled Invaders From Mars on Blu-Ray.

If you want to pimp anything email it to me with a good reason why. It helps to bribe me with stuff, just saying ….

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

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This week’s DVD Netflix Binge – Daredevil

One thing I find amusing is how something shiny always distracts people from the main problem that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has right now: over saturation. Marvel Studios is shunting out so many films per year that it’s astounding. The overall quality is to be debated, of course, but Marvel is a money making machine for Disney now and they’re going all in. When they announced that Daredevil and a handful of properties were going to Netflix, and not into the MCU properly, I was curious because Netflix properties that have spawned directly in the service have all been fairly spectacular.

Orange is the New Black is a total binge watch when it gets released and Netflix’s stand up comedy specials have been must views as well. Throw in House of Cards and Marco Polo, among others, and Netflix has a standard of quality in its original programming television studios can’t have. They don’t have to provide volumes of original ideas and concepts, thus being able to pick and choose their spots gives them a rare spot. What they green light is held to a higher standard because they don’t have to green light shows they know will fail for advertising purposes. It’s an advantage because they can take risks on stuff that otherwise would be passed on; OitNB would’ve been changed radically for network television, or even FX, but on Netflix it can thrive because they have no one but subscribers to be accountable to. Thus Daredevil, which would be an ultra violent Gotham at best (but would have to be toned down nearly everywhere else), can thrive on Netflix because they’re not bound to advertising and the like.

And it’s a good thing because the first season might be the best thing Marvel has done so far.

Simple premise. Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is a blind lawyer day and a masked ass-kicker in Hell’s Kitchen New York by night. We find him early in his career, when he’s just wearing a mask and a new attorney. We also find Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) at the beginning of his run as the man behind New York City’s organized crime.

It’s a perfect show to binge watch, of course, but the key to it is that the show is the sort of show that Daredevil should be and could never be in either film or on network television. It reminds me a lot of what Justified would’ve been like if it had gone to Netflix and not FX. It’s got that extra 10% of violence and language that only a network like HBO would allow as opposed to an FX or AMC.

I’m genuinely impressed by the show because it feels like this wouldn’t have happened without Netflix. It’d be toned down with a different cast, easily, as only D’Onofrio and Deborah Ann Woll might be the only actors I think could’ve made the cut for a network driven show. That Netflix isn’t beholden to anyone but subscribers, and not advertisers or regulators, is beautiful thing if more shows like Daredevil are on the way.

Highly recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 tall boys of Red Fox and community college co-eds with low standards at the Fox and Hound

Monkey Kingdom – A nature documentary about monkeys.

Skip it – Nature documentaries usually work better at home than in the theatre.

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 – More Blart.

Skip it – More bleh.

Unfriended – The first ever social media themed horror film.

See it – It’ll wind up being a dead teenager film, most likely, but the setup is fairly ingenious.

Child 44 -Set in Soviet Russia, Tom Hardy investigates a series of child murders. In limited release.

See it – It’s based off a novel that got strong reviews and has a spectacular cast.

True Story – Jonah Hill is a reporter who’s identity was stolen by James Franco, a killer.

See it – This feels like a prestige film that’s arriving too early, or too late. Either way it’s a curiosity that I’m likely to see.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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