TV Review: Daredevil (2015)

I first saw the show last summer on Netflix before it moved to Disney+ this year. It has very good storylines and introduces audiences to the Marvel comic book character Daredevil and many of his allies and rivals. Played by Charlie Cox, Matt Murdock plays the superhero in a thrilling yet extremely violent TV series. Murdock is revealed to have a day job as a lawyer, working alongside his work partners Foggy Nelson (Elden Henson) and Karen Page (Deborah Ann Woll) in the firm Nelson and Murdock. Murdock is also revealed to be blind after an incident occurred where chemicals flew into his eyes as a child, blinding him for life.

The firm only consists of the three members, however they take cases in exchange for payments in food and financial earnings in court. This ends up coming into conflict for Murdock, as he is forced to balance his life as a lawyer and a street vigilante similar to Batman who works outside of the law to protect civilians from robbers and consequences of corruption. His biggest threat is revealed to be a man named Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio), a large and imposing man who aims to climb the ranks of New York and gain power and control for his own personal gain. Fisk’s aims often come at the expense of others, leaving people vulnerable and forced against their will to assist and take part in Fisk’s plans.

What I found most interesting about the film is the contrast yet similarity between Daredevil and Fisk. Both want to enhance New York in their own way and both use methods that conflict with the law to reach that end goal. Their quest often raises many questions towards morality. Also, both characters deal with mental trauma. Fisk ends up killing his father to protect his mother and even though his mother accepts him, he still deals with the trauma throughout the story. Similarly, Matt faced child abandonment as a child, with his mother leaving early in his life and his father getting murdered after refusing to throw a boxing fight for the purpose of making Matt proud. Even though both Daredevil and Fisk are different in the eyes of the audience, the similarities between the two are apparent with analysis.

However, what separates the two is their end goals. Although Fisk wants to improve New York, he aims to do so by destroying the city and “rebuilding”, which puts lives at risk and comes at a high price for many. Fisk reveals that he only cares about his power and role in the city, which contradicts his deception to the rest of the citizens of his good will through paid press and newspapers. On the other hand, Daredevil utilizes brutal methods, but refuses to take a life due to his devotion to Catholicism and only does so to help others at risk, such as hostages or other defenseless people.

Overall, this show was a very interesting watch and I believe that it challenges the true association of good and evil. Even though many believe that the two are about as separate as night and day, this show goes above and beyond to challenge that belief through Murdock, Fisk, and even later characters such as Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) aka The Punisher, and Benjamin Poindexter (Wilson Bethel). I strongly recommend anyone with Disney+ to give this show a watch.

Soundtrack for Summer: I Ain’t Worried by OneRepublic

Introduced by the movie Top Gun: Maverick, this song really got me excited for summer. The song in the movie featured Maverick using a beach football scene as a team-building exercise, which was an amazing scene overall and contributed well to the movie. The scene itself is a callback to the classic volleyball scene in the original Top Gun, but the song adds to the overall feel of the scene. It gave a feeling of joy and friendship, two values promoted over summer when people enjoy time off from school/work and spend time with friends and family.

To me, I felt this joy when first hearing the song, and decided to give it some more listens. After about 2-3 listens, I decided to add it to my personal summer playlist and I definitely have more of a feel/excitement for summer every time it plays. Even though all parts of the song were great for the movie and for summer, I found the idea from OneRepublic to incorporate whistling into the song as a genius move since it contributed to the feel of relaxation and creation of memories during the summer. I believe that plenty of people would enjoy this song, especially during the summer. It also promoted releasing stress that many could feel in life from work, school, or other parts of one’s life in a peaceful manner and simply living in the present and seeing the good over the bad while summer lasts.

However, even though I am a fan of OneRepublic, I have not paid much attention to their recent activity prior to this song. I listen to their past songs of Good Life and All the Right Moves frequently since I heard them on the radio almost every day when I was younger and in 1st-5th grade and it brings back memories from that time. Even though time and life move fast at times, it helps to listen to these kinds of songs to remember the good times and to enjoy life and the people around you while you still can. But this song proved that even though some past songs are amazing and at times better than the current songs of a band, there can still be some amazing present songs that can make up part of memories a few years from now.

Overall, the song was amazing and I believe that it has the potential to be a classic hit this year. OneRepublic has made plenty of songs that I enjoy, from songs such as Good Life, Secrets, All the Right Moves, and Love Runs Out. Even though I have admittedly listened to most of OneRepublic’s past songs before, it brought my attention towards OneRepublic and their recent activity and as a fan of the band, it was a pleasure to revisit something as good as this band. It really brought back some nostalgic memories from this summer and past summers, and I believe that anyone can enjoy this song and get hooked to this enjoyable summer tune.

TV Review: Cobra Kai

This show really brought back some good childhood memories, as it is the sequel of the famous Karate Kid trilogy, famously known for the bond between Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and their rivalry between John Kreese (Martin Kove) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) of the Cobra Kai Karate Dojo. Although Zabka was only casted in the first movie and appeared briefly in the second, the show follows the full trilogy. Zabka and Macchio reprised their roles as we get to see how their lives unfold after the trilogy events.

The show starts off with Daniel enjoying the life he has always dreamed of, owning a fancy dealership, happy family, and seemingly free of problems. On the other hand, Johnny is in a world of anguish, as he has nobody in his life, losing his mother at a young age, his sensei forcefully abandoning him after the tournament, and failing his relationship with his divorced wife and his son, Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan). However, Johnny’s life changes when he meets his neighbor, Miguel Diaz (Xolo MaridueƱa), who is struggling to fit into this new city. Johnny later saves Miguel after a group of bullies led by Kyler (Joe Seo) pick on Miguel, leading to Johnny interfering and using karate to defend Miguel. After some convincing by Miguel and a run-in with Daniel at the LaRusso dealership, Johnny decides to reopen the Cobra Kai dojo under his name. Although Johnny is cold at first, he decides to take his relationship with Miguel more seriously and treats Miguel like his son, leading Miguel to be his star pupil and helping Johnny become a better person. However, Daniel later sees Johnny’s dojo open and, out of fear due to past trauma experienced in the trilogy, opens his own dojo, Miyagi Do Karate, and even taking in Robby, Johnny’s son, as his first student. The show follows with classic high school drama and similar patterns in the rivalry between Johnny and Daniel, with characters such as John Kreese coming back later on in the show.

Personally, I believe that the most interesting aspect of the show is how each side believes that they are fighting for a good cause, however each side has their flaws. For example, Johnny wants to teach the kids to defend themselves against their bullies and conquer their fears, however his disconnection with the modern world blinds him to how corrupting Kreese’s style of Cobra Kai is until Miguel wins the All-Valley tournament against Robby dishonorably. After witnessing Miguel’s actions, however, Johnny tries to implement principles of honor into his class, but fails due to Kreese later influencing the kids. On the other hand, Daniel tries to teach his class how to find balance in their lives, fight honorably, and defending others with good intentions, however he often becomes too obsessed with his rivalry with Johnny and goes against his own advice. Finally, Kreese also wants to help the kids in defending themselves, but he has been traumatized by his time in the army and life events to implement restraints in real life situations, causing the kids to become more violent.

Also, another interesting aspect of the show is the personal growth relationships of the show. In the beginning of the series, Johnny only takes Miguel in because he needs a line of work after being fired from his previous job and a stable source of money. However, after failing to repair his relationship with Robby, Johnny later realizes that Miguel still has faith in him and he cannot give up on Miguel like he did with Robby, and begins teaching Miguel seriously while treating Miguel like a son. Alternatively, Daniel only teaches Robby to create a star pupil to combat Cobra Kai, but after realizing Robby is Johnny’s son and making a rash decision to separate himself from Robby, Daniel later comes back to Robby and tries to mentor Robby to a similar path given by his former sensei, Mr. Miyagi. However, Robby seems to get the worst of the relationships, as he feels betrayed by both sides and is sent down the wrong path, finding a new sensei in the corrupting influence, John Kreese.

Overall, this series is worth watching, whether you’re a fan of the Karate Kid trilogy or someone looking for a good show to watch. The numerous references to past movies, growth in relationships, and exploration of each side and going deeper into their motivations and past makes the show an interesting watch. Even the high school rivalries between the students of each dojo allows teenagers currently in high school to relate to the show in a personal way. At the time of writing this review, there are currently only 3 seasons to watch, however there are only 4 days until the premiere of Season 4, which only looks to improve on its previous seasons.

-Lawrence B.

Book Review: Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I honestly had no idea what this series was even about until I found this book one day and started reading about it. It turns out that the full story of Nick Gautier, a high school student destined to become a monster known as the Malachai, is revealed, as he goes through poverty with his mom desperate for jobs and finding one as a club dancer and his father, who is the current Malachai, is in prison. Even though Nick tries his best to live his life right, he finds himself in dark corners and often unable to find anyone in his life, tormented by bullies and yelled at by his mother despite acting in defense of his bullies talking bad about her. Even today, I feel like some high school students have similar experiences with bullying, as it is still ongoing today and victims often face harsh conditions such as poverty like Nick, and even struggle with mental illnesses, with the bullying adding to their problems.

However, Nick unknowingly finds a glimpse of hope when he meets a girl named Nekoda Kennedy, a new girl at his school in his grade who he ends up making a friendship with. Although Nekoda acts friendly to Nick and treats him nicely, she is secretly tasked with the duty of ensuring that he does not become the monster he is destined to be, known as the Malachai. Although Nick believes he can trust Nekoda, his trust in her can completely be shattered once he hears about her duty. Despite this task for Nekoda, however, she sees some good in Nick and pushes herself to try to save him and keep the good in him, garnering feelings for him in the process.

Nick learning of his destiny is also a pivotal part of this book, as he tries to keep the good in himself alive to ensure that he does not become his father. This is shown in his many interactions with Nekoda, Bubba, Mark, and Kyrian, as he sees his friends as a guiding light to a straight and narrow path to preventing his destiny. His friends are primarily what separate his father from Nick, as his father seemingly has situational allies only and no true friends, although Nick has plenty of good friends and people he has helped in the past. Without his friends, Nick would surely embrace the darkness and become the monster that Nekoda has sworn to destroy.

Overall, I thought this book was very interesting despite my lack of understanding in mythical creatures and beings. The correlation to human life and mythical life is very well executed in this book, and putting Nick in a sympathetic light makes the readers want to root for him and ensure that he does not repeat his father’s history. The warfare between good and evil is also very prominent in this series as well, as each character faces their own personal demons throughout the story. I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a good series to read.

Lawrence B.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

This book was one of the first books that made reading more interesting for me, as it started off with some background information about how nine children, referred to as Garde, were tasked with saving Earth after their home planet, Lorien, was destroyed from the evil Mogadorians, from the planet Mogadore, that are planning to take over Earth, with mentors known as Cepan tasked with helping the Garde realize their abilities. Each of the nine were separated, however the Mogadorians have already killed three of the Garde. The story takes place in the narrative of Four, who takes on many aliases before the story but settles with the identity of John Smith, and his Cepan Brandon takes on the name Henri.

When I go back and read this book, I love how they always make it clear that John feels like an outcast compared to the rest of the high school kids in Paradise, Ohio, the city and state that he and Henri settle in, as he feels alone in this new school and doubts who he can trust to stay alive. Along with the emphasis of Four being a new student, he also deals with common high school issues that people deal with today, such as a high school bully in Mark James, a crush in Sarah Hart, and a best friend in Sam Goode. Although Four is meant to be a defender of Earth, the author does a very good job in humanizing Four and his struggles to balance his duty of survival and his personal life, relating to many teens in high school today who have to balance school, sports, and personal life.

Also, throughout the story, I found it interesting how John and Henri clash in their different viewpoints of the path moving forward. Although Henri feels endangered after his life was nearly taken while looking for answers on the Mogadorians, John wants to stay in Paradise, as he feels a strong connection and love for Sarah and a closer friendship with Sam, as Sam has little connection with his family. Since Sam finally has a friend in John and treats him like family, it is understandable why John does not to leave and argues with Henri. I found this similar to how kids often have to move schools due to their parents getting new jobs and moving houses and possibly even states, and have to leave friends behind. The tension between John and Henri over this decision is clear, but in the end, Henri supported John’s decision and fought to protect John like a father, even sacrificing his life to save John.

Overall, this book is a good read and worth taking a look into, as everything comes full circle in the story. I believe that high school students in particular would really enjoy this novel, as it highlights struggles to fit into a new school and make new friends, something that really shapes a high school experience. However, what always pushed me into reading this novel over and over again was how John perfectly fit into normal high school life and struggles, despite his difference in origin and powers. This kickstarted my interest in the Lorien Legacies and helped me find more interest in exploring all the possibilities in new books, which I believe will do the same for anyone that reads this book in the future.

-Lawrence B.

I Am Number Four by Patticus Lore is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.