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The Undefendable Defenders

August 19th, 2017
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This post is about the Defenders series on Netflix. No major spoilers in the post (I think), but just be warned!

Yesterday saw the release of the somewhat anticipated The Defenders, the so-called Avengers of the small screen. It was supposed to represent the culmination of the same formula that worked so well on the big screen, bringing all your favourite heroes together all at the same time. I’m saying it was supposed to, because it really wasn’t the experience I took away.

For those who don’t know who the Defenders are1, let me give you a brief history. The collective of heroes known as the Defenders is made of the four New York City protectors: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist. These names should sound quite familiar to Netflix’s viewers since they all had at least one season of independent stories each before joining forces this summer.

Daredevil was the one that kicked off the MTU2 and is the one so far with two singular seasons under his belt (with Jessica Jones currently filming the next one) and he’s one of the most popular of the four, closely followed by Luke Cage. I personally liked Jessica Jones more than Cage, but it was a close fight between the two.

The most problematic character of the four is certainly Danny Rand, a.k.a. the Immortal Iron Fist. His singular season was a bit of disaster, with a terrible critical response. The writing was certainly of a lower quality when compared to the others, but mostly in my opinion was the actor’s performance that brought down the character.

Unfortunately for us, the story of the Defenders heavily rotate around Danny Rand and his relationship with The Hand, the evil organisation headed by Alexandra, portrayed here by Sigourney Weaver. If the character of the Iron Fist was a terrible one in his own series, in the Defenders he shines for how dumb he is at every possible occasion and cross road along the way. He doesn’t seems to be able to make a good decision and he gets pounced by both the enemies and his own friends, while they try very hard to reason with him.

Speaking of his friends, the Defenders doesn’t only bring the heroes togheter, but also all their respective supporting cast, making this show more crowded than the airport scene in Captain American: Civil War3. Due to this over abundance of characters, we spend the first three of the eight episodes catching up with everyone’s lives while the underlying story doesn’t really progress that much. By episode four we have all the heroes together and we can finally proceed, but it still feels three episodes too many.

The more the story proceed the more the dynamic between the four heroes solidifies and you can summarise it as follows:

  • Luke Cage is the moral compass of the team. He’s strongly aware of their responsibilities toward the innocents people gravitating around the story and never fails to reprimend the Iron Fist for all of his stupid actions.
  • Daredevil keeps struggling with his own soul. At the end of season two of his own show he had kind put the red suits away seemingly for good and even here he struggle with putting it back on, but when he does, he starts to shine.
  • Jessica Jones feels under-utilised in the show, mostly playing a supporting role. She keeps her usual attitude of being in the action without actually wanting to be there. In the end she saves the day, but still I would’ve personally loved to have seen her a bit more active as she’s an awesome character and Krysten Ritter does a great job with her.
  • Iron Fist. He’s just to dumb. Have I said already? Still he’s very dumb. His greatest scene in this series is when he gets schooled by Luke Cage about white privilege. He embodies everything wrong with the show but unfortunately we are stuck with him.

The other dynamic in the show is the relationship between Elektra and Daredevil. Their love interest is the second underlying thread in the story which will put the Devil of Hells Kitchen in very difficult positions until the very end. What you also realise is that him and Iron Fist are the real protagonists of the story, leaving Jessica Jones and Luke Cage as more supporting parts of the cast. With so many people on screen it was to be expected that someone was going to fall of the order, still I wished it was Iron Fist. He’s really so dumb.

Now, what’s the takeaway from the Defenders? All in all it was a good series, showcasing once again the ability and the depth of characters that Marvel is able to play with. The writing on the show wasn’t the finest we’ve had ever seen, but it has prepared for what is coming in the future. We know more Jessica Jones is coming, we hope for more Luke Cage and Daredevil, we are happy to say goodbye to Iron Fist4.

An enjoyable few hours, a recommended watch, but far from being unmissable.


  1. Why would you read this article if you are among these people? 
  2. MTU as in Marvel Television Universe as opposed to the MCU: Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t know if MTU is a thing, but it sounds good to me. 
  3. And possibly even more crowded than the upcoming Infitiny Wars. Who would have thought it was even possible? 
  4. He will easily be replaced in our minds by The Punisher who just released an awesome trailer. 

Spectators vs Regulators: The Calm Down Edition

October 31st, 2016
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Another race came to a close yesterday and of course we had another round of radio communication outburst and penalties flying all over the place. My question is: do we really need this circus?

Once again at the centre of attention was the young Max Verstappen, who really seems can’t stay away from being slapped on his hands for being a “naughty” driver. Yesterday was the latest installment in the series: Vettel gets angry at Verstappen on the radio. This edition also featured a never seen before: “F**k off Charlie [Whiting]!”.

The reason for all the anger was Verstappen cutting a corner and maintaining his position while fighting with Vettel for third place and then later trying to back the german into his partner Ricciardo. The steward gave Max a 5 seconds penalty after the end of the race which made Vettel run for the podium after to replace the youngster. Funny thing happened tough: Vettel got a 10 seconds penalty after the podium ceremony, meaning he ended up after both Red Bull drivers and making Ricciardo the rightful owner of the 3rd place trophy. Guess what the penalty was for: moving dangerously in the breaking zone! This is the rule that was introduced in Austin in order to calm Verstappen after the all the “outrage” of his fellow drivers (read: Vettel).

So from a spectator point of view, Vettel looked like a little boy only capable to whine as he can’t overtake another skilled driver, only to be penalised exactly for the same reason that his nemesis was punished for.

Which is kind of amazing and made me laugh quite a lot when I saw the news of Vettel’s penalty!

All of this mess made me think about F1 from a higher-level view. It seems now clear that F1 is a different sport from a spectator point of view than what it is for regulators on the ground.

We as TV and track viewers, we live and we crave for some action on track. The kind of action that makes you jump from your seat/sofa, that makes you hold your breath until the end; the kind of action that made F1 great. Lately I’m happy if I can stay awake past the first 2 laps after which nothing will happen. The most you can hope for is for some mechanics to make a mistake during a pitstop so that another drive can overtake, without actually overtaking.

This level of action has been progressively killed off by new rules and restrictions, that yes aim at making the sport safer for the driver but is also progressively killing all the excitement.

There’s an easy comparison here that can be made. Next weekend, tune in the GP2 race before the F1 and you’ll see what excitement looks like. There are hardly any boring races, and you’ll see all the action you want. I’ve seen amazing battles over the years and drivers using every inch of the track and then some to try and gain a position. We are many years off the last time I’ve seen 3 F1 cars entering the same corner at the same time to pull off something of an amazing overtake.

To circle back to yesterday’s race, what we are seeing now in F1, especially with Max, is a driver who is bringing the best of GP2 up in the major category and getting punished for doing so.

In recent years, F1 got very comfortable, probably too much so. With all the rules and regulations and the fictional technical restriction, is no wonder that the sport is loosing viewership. And it’s not just TV either. The Malaysian Grand Prix can be another casualty as the CEO of the Sepang Cirtuit is thinking of dropping the race from the calendar as F1 “is no longer exciting”.

To countermeasure all of this, for the past 6 months everyone is saying the 2017 regulations will change all of this, making the sport extremely exciting once again. I remain hopeful as always, as I really really love the sport, but I won’t certainly hold my breath.

In the meantime, I think everyone should count to 100 before shouting; adrenaline or not.

There Is A New Wizard In Town

October 26th, 2016
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Yesterday night I had the opportunity to go and watch a preview screening of Doctor Strange, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As always, I have some thoughts.

First of all, let me start by saying that I personally knew who Strange was in the Marvel comic universe, but I’ve never read too many of his stories. I went into the cinema with an open mind and before entering I decided to forget everything I thought I knew.

Having said that, I’ve found the movie overall very enjoyable, especially if you consider that this movie is an origin story, and we all know how bad those can be.

The pace of the first half is quite good and it allow the viewer to get comfortable with who Strange is and especially how is mind and ego work together. This is especially important to then understand the transformation he’s going to go through later on in the movie.

Speaking of transformation, I absolutely loved how Cumberbatch portrayed Strange. Of all the Avengers, he is definitely the one as actor that looks almost identical to his paper doppelgänger. Being an MCU entry, attention to details for the costume is a given and once again the wardrobe department doesn’t disappoint. Strange’s Cloak of Levitation perfectly conveys the essence of this character and despite being mostly made in CGI, the few scenes where it’s real are an examples of how this movie succeed on its attention to details.

Now to the lesser good part of the movie. I didn’t find the enemy particularly threatening in this movie. I almost feel it wasn’t needed at all, or at least it doesn’t add too much on the whole narrative. The reason why it’s needed is to transform the Doctor into an Avenger, rather than being just a selfish man on a personal quest. The only reason why Strange gets into the Mystic Arts is to heal his own body and not to save the Universe from the Dark Dimension. Every hero needs a kick in the beginning to realise their powers should be used for the greater good, but of all the kicks seen so far, this was probably the weaker of all.

Also, I think the movie doesn’t really use Kaecilius (Strange Nemesis in the comic) and Mads Mikkelsen performance to great effect. He’s supposedly the bad guy, but he’s also a very forgettable bad guy. So much so that I don’t even think he’s the real intended baddie here1. He as Strange gets trapped in a bigger world, but unlike the Doctor he’s not able to use it to his advantage.

Few final honourable mentions.

  1. Tilda Swinton does a great job portraying the controversy of being The Ancient One. Great delivery on all her lines, making for a perfect spiritual guide for Strange.
  2. Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Mordo doesn’t get too much love throughout the movie, always being shown as “The Weird One”, only to reveal his true nature at the very last second, giving more meaning to the overall performance.
  3. The writers on the movie. Dialogues are great and being a MCU movie there’s always a underlying level of light comedy that contributes to the tone and pace of the movie to great effect. Also, this does differentiate a bit the Doctor Strange movie character from his comic book cousin, being more lighthearted and less of a a*****e.
  4. The CGI, used here to great effect, it’s not overwhelming but actually enhance the Mystical Arts and makes you trip quite hard.

All in all a very enjoyable movie, which add another great Avenger to the roster. The Infinity War is going to be so awesome.

Now…If only I could learn to refill my drinks so easily…


  1. Remember not to leave your seat until the lights turn on in the cinema if you want to test my theory. 

Apple September Special Event 2016

September 11th, 2016
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The Apple Event came by this week, bringing few surprises and confirming most of the things that were leaked in the weeks and months prior to it.

This time, rather than writing a massive article, I used my new podcast Cyber Intersection to do my commentary.

I had the pleasure of being joined on the show by Carolyn Nicander Mohr, author of The Wonder of Tech.

Listen below, or find the show on iTunes!

My Hot Take On The Suicide Squad

August 30th, 2016
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Yes…yes…I know, I’m very late to the party, but I finally went to see Suicide Squad last night, and as always I have something to say about it.

Let’s start with the budget. I finally understood why this movie had to make so much money to break even from the initial investment. One word: soundtrack. The music in this movie is definitely a major component, almost another member of the cast, but it must have been quite expensive to license. Especially during the first half, when each character is introduced, every member of the squad get to have his/her own personal song1.

As I said, the best part of it, it’s not just the music per se, but the way in which a specific track is juxtaposed to the images on the screen. It very well conveys their characteristic and help amplify the personalities of the members of the Suicide Squad.

The movie itself follows a pretty standard plot line:

A. Humans discover alien/metahuman powers
B. Humans try to control them
C. The alien/metahuman power rebels against humans
D. Humans enlist team with superhuman abilities to kill/destroy/enslave the rogue alien/metahuman power
E. The superhuman team wins
F. Humanity survives

Stop me if you have seen this plot line already. In recent years it has become pretty much the default archetype for comic book movies, each with their own slightly different take, but all ultimately can be boiled down to the outline above.

In this specific take on the plot line, the initial mess is created while Humans are trying to protect themselves against new alien/superhumans threats after the demise of Superman in the previous chapter of the DC Cinematic Universe, the equally critically-bashed Batman v Superman. Compared to that, Suicide Squad comes out on top if you ask me.

Batman v Superman has many problems, but the biggest is portraying the characters for what they are not2. Suicide Squad has certainly the problem of introducing way too many figures in a very short period of time. Sometimes way to short to even question the usefulness of the appearance3. What I like about the ensemble is the fact that is clear they are mercenaries with the only objective to comply to the government request in order to gain something at the end. So even the critics that said the cast doesn’t interact well seems without foundation to me. They don’t interact because their characters don’t like to interact with anybody else. From their personal introductions it’s clearly explained how they all are usually working alone.

The only exception to this is Harley Quinn. We learn her origin story and we know how close she is with the Joker. So it’s not surprising that in her craziness she’s the only one giving apparently trying to create ties with the other members of the band. Also I’d like to give a shoutout to Margot Robbie. Her Harley Quinn is absolutely great and the highlight of the group in this movie. Of all the performances hers is the most believable, distantly followed by Will Smith and his Deadshot.

On the villain side of things, I like how the enchantress was portrayed by Cara Delevingne. Mostly the CGI on her was really good as she didn’t have that many lines over the movie. It won’t go down in history as the best villain of all times, but surely she’s not the worst we’ve ever seen.

Before closing, let’s spend few words on four characters that left a mark on the movie for good or bad.

The Joker: Jared Leto does an sub-par job with this character. He doesn’t come across as strong as he should and I felt like many of the visual clues about him and his henchmen were a plagiarised version of the ones seen in Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

Amanda Waller: she’s the one coming up with the ideas of the Task Force X. I liked a lot how Viola David portrayed the character, being true to her comic book origin: tough, zero-compromises, very much always in control even when things go south quite badly.

Rick Flag: he’s the tough military guy in charge of guiding the Task Force X on the field. He does an ok job with it, but I was never fully convinced by Joel Kinnaman’s acting. He never seemed well integrated into the movie as all the other characters.

The Flash: I left the worst for last. Since The Flash is set to appear in the upcoming Justice League movie, it seemed appropriate to the director David Ayer to have him doing a 5 seconds cameo while catching the baddie Boomerang. Of course there’s nothing we can say about the performance, but there’s plenty we can say about how The Flash will look like. It’s all wrong. Like completely wrong. First, he looks like he has a mechanical suit. When I saw him he reminded me of a light version of the Iron Man suit, and we all know that that’s not what The Flash wears. But most importantly his light streak was blue! Yes you read it right, the light streak was blue! Since when that’s a thing? The light is only yellow-orange. Red is the Reverse Flash and blue is Zoom. They still have time to change this, and I really hope they do, because otherwise The Flash will be doomed before even trying to get our approval4.

So, what’s my final judgement on this movie? It’s definitely better than Batman v Superman thanks to the slightly lighter tone; better than the portrayal given by the critics; still nowhere near the level of polishing achieved by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

6/10

  1. Almost as if we were witnessing the entrance of difference wrestlers in a WWE arena. 
  2. Batman killing people like if it was normal for him. 
  3. Sorry Slipknot fans. 
  4. I’m not even sure if the Ezra Miller version on the big screen will be able to rival the Grant Gustin version curretly on the CW TV network. 

Captain America: Civil War

May 9th, 2016
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Last night I went to see the latest instalment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America: Civil War.

Let me get this out of the way immediately: this is the best Marvel movie to date. Simple as that. Now let’s see why this is.

Of course this post will contain some spoilers here and there, so only read it if you have watched the movie already!

We knew from all the trailers and videos that this would have been basically an Avengers movies as all the heroes (except from Thor and the Hulk), were going to be together. We also knew we were going to see some new heroes, in the form of Black Panther and Spiderman. So the big question was: how all these people are going to interact with each other without the movie feeling too overcrowded?

Well, the Russo’s brothers definitely pulled off a great treat for the Marvel’s fan!

In Civil War the main story line is about the US Government trying to regulate the action of all those super heroes, creating a sort of super U.N. task force. Not everyone likes the ideas and this will ended up splitting the Avengers in two side, Captain American vs. Iron Man; hence the Civil War.

In addition to this, we still get the Winter Soldier plot and this will also contribute in creating more distance between the two main heroes, with the full revelation of who killed Tony Stark’s parents.

And, to make things even more complicated, we see Black Panthers having beef with the Bucky until almost the end of the movie as he gets trapped in the main twist as all the other Avengers.

Despite all the underlining drama, the movie still has plenty of space for comedy, which is this case is brilliantly delivered by the two main cameos of the movie: Ant-Man and Spiderman.

The two are affiliated with different teams. Ant-Man gets recruited by Hawkeye for Team Cap, while Peter Parker is recruited directly by Tony Stark for Team Iron Man. Of the two, Spiderman is the one that comes through as the funnier of the twos, being brilliantly portraied by Tom Holland. Thanks to his references to real world movies and his seemingly genuine surprise and excitment for all the things super heroes, Spiderman/Parker manages to make the movie feel closer to you as the audience.

It also worth noticing how Marvel already managed to create a better Spiderman in this 10 minutes cameo that what Sony has been able to do in 15 years of so of trying. We knew the shortness of the appearance was mostly due to the to production houses getting a late rights agreement; but despite everything this was still a solid performance and a great ad for next year standalone Spiderman re-introduction: Homecoming.

Civil War is also able to deliver some great dialogues that really makes you feel involved in the ideological fight between the two sides and it makes it really difficult for the audience to actually pick a side. Even the heroes themselves are having troubles picking sides. If the movie poster clearly separates the Avengers right down the middle, the more the story proceeds, the more that line gets blurred and they start to mix again, ultimately being truthful to their own character and historical relationships.

I’m certainly glad Thor and the Hulk were not in this fight. Thor being a God from another planet wouldn’t have not fit really well in this very Earthly dilemma. On the other side instead, the Hulk doesn’t posses the “finesse” needed to participates in such a fight. Hulk smashes as we know. Hulk doesn’t read a 200 pages treaty.

Finally, the movie closes leaving us with only a partial closure and as always tends a hand forward to the future chapters in the story. Steve Rogers is hiding in Wakanda with his new friend Black Panther, putting the Winter Soldier to sleep (literally under ice), but he also tends a reaching hand toward Tony Stark in the form of a comically old flip-phone and the post it: I know you’re mad and this is crazy, but call me maybe?1.

Speaking of the feature, we then see the second post-credit scene in which we go back to Queens in NY, to see how Peter Parker is dealing with the post-symptoms of his first big fight and we also see the spider symbol make its first appearance, remarking the fact that a new Spidey is finally in town.

Overall, as I said at the very beginning, this is a great Marvel movie, arguably the best in the series so far. Speaking of series, this movie of course slot inside the wider arc of the MCU but it also does a good job at standing as its own movie and story. If you’ve seen all the others movie it helps, but if you hadn’t, you won’t feel lost. Which is always good.

If you want to get more of Civil War, I would suggest you listen to the latest The Incomparable podcast, which does a great job at recapping the movie.

7.5/10

  1. I do apologise for this, but it was too good of a pun to let it go! 

2016 National Geographic – Travel Photographer Of The Year

May 5th, 2016

It’s that time of the year again. The National Geographic is now accepting submissions for the 2016 Travel Photographer of the Year Contest.

The National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest is now accepting entries. Harness the power of photography and share your stunning travel experiences from around the globe. Enter your most powerful photos for a chance to become the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year.

Even if you are not participating, make sure to check the gallery of already submitted works. There are already – of course – great shots, like the one below.

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The picture was taken by Christoph Schaarschmidt who has to say the following about it:

I took this photo in july 2014 at Trollstigen in Norway. Standing there alone in the fog, I was waiting for the view to become clear. And then it happened, the fog disappeared and though it was 1 am already, one car came slowly up the steep serpentines. It was my dream for a long time to take a photo of lighttrails like this in Norway – and it was just an awesome feeling that it worked out on the most beautiful and famous street. A few minutes later the fog returned, even thicker than before.

So envious of the ability and the quality of the result. But I’m especially curious about learning more about that place in Norway, and maybe organise a drive there. It looks like an amazing place to be.

That’s the real power of the National Geographic, it never fails to spark your imagination.

The Case For The Lack Of Leather

April 26th, 2016

Yesterday I spent quite a while browsing online in search for some good iPad Pro accessories (I’ll always refer to the big 12.9″ throughout the article). Specifically, I was looking for some good quality leather cases, as I’m growing more and more frustrated by the Apple silicone case.

My first stop was of course the Apple Online Store. Once you apply the compatibility filter for the big Pro, quite a sad page will be looking back at you.

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Yep, this page hasn’t changed at all since November of last year, when the Pro was initially launched on the market. But the worst part of all, is how Apple is actively trolling their customers by showing a banner full of colourful and mixed cases compositions. And then you only get grey or white. That’s pretty bad.

You could also argue that the lack of Smart Connector accessories is pretty bad, but that wasn’t my point of contempt last night.

I was specifically disappointed by the lack of any leather case. I knew Apple didn’t release any new accessories on their store, but I was secretly hoping that somehow, by visiting that page I would’ve suddenly find what I was looking for.

Now, why leather, you ask? It’s because since Apple started introducing their leather accessories, they’ve always been the best on the market and the one and only type of case that I find acceptable for my devices. Every new iPhone immediately goes into a leather case1 and so my iPad Air had the same treatment. It is undoubtedly a premium and expensive case, but it’s totally worth the extra money.

What I’m still hoping Apple will eventually release their Smart Case. It’s the best case you’ll ever find, don’t even bother wasting your time on Amazon as I did yesterday, trying to find a similar alternative, you won’t. The Smart Case it’s great because it’s thin, but gives full 360° protection with a massive amount of style. The quality of the leather is great, giving a great feel in your hand while you’re working with your device.

So, while I was browsing the web yesterday, I started asking myself why Apple wouldn’t release such a case for the big Pro. I gave it a lot of thought and bottomline I think they won’t release it because it would get a ridiculous price tag; too expensive even for Apple standard. Let’s do some math, to try and estimate what such a case could possibly cost.

Currently you can buy a £65 leather Smart Case that would fit both the iPad Air 2 and the new smaller iPad Pro or you could get a £29 Smart Cover in silicone. The premium for the leather case is 124%. Now, consider the equivalent silicone Smart Cover for the big iPad Pro. It is currently priced at £49. If you apply the same premium, you will get a whopping £110. Technically this would still be cheaper than buying the combo of front and back silicone cover for the big iPad Pro, but on the other hand, Apple is not promoting the two as a pair, and so a leather iPad Smart Case would still represent the most expensive accessory sold by Apple for an iPad2.

Bottom line is that I would whatever amount they would set in a heartbeat. So please Apple, take a short trip to Italy and buy some leather for me, would you?

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  1. How great is the Saddle Brown or the new Marine Blue case?! 
  2. Yes the Smart Keyboard is more expensive than that being priced at £139, but I’m not counting it as it is more than just a cover and primarily sold for its function as portable keyboard.