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Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight | A Supernatural Globe-Trotting Adventure

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What makes Moon Knight Moon Knight?, Just who is Layla?, And what is making Arthur Harrow Tick?. These questions and more will all be answered in Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight, an all-new, original, live-action series starring Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, and May Calamawy. Debuting exclusively on Disney+ on March 30. Moon Knight is the latest calibre addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s lineup of superheroes and vigilantes.

Thanks to Disney+ Coastal House Media got to watch the first 4 episodes in advance and it’s unlike anything we’ve seen before in the MCU. Throughout 1-4, Moon Knight is a supernatural spectacle that genre-bends themes and adds elements of archaeology, dark humour, and a psychological thriller. Moon Knight is also seeped into Egyptian culture and honours their mythology and society at the forefront, which I loved. All this creates an epic-scaled adventure.

Synopsis

The story follows Steven Grant, a mild-mannered man who lives a mundane life, plagued by blackouts and mysterious memories of a life somehow separate from his own. After one fateful encounter, Steven discovers that he has Dissociative Identity Disorder and shares a body with Marc Spector- a former mercenary and the ruthless avatar of Khonsu, the Egyptian god of the moon and vengeance. With their enemies converging upon them, Steven must learn how to adapt to this revelation and work with Marc. With other godly motives at play, the two must navigate their complex identities amid a deadly battle played out among the powerful gods of Egypt.

Photo: Courtesy of Disney+

Review

REIMAGINED AS A SERIES

Like many Marvel superheroes before him, Moon Knight got his start in the comics as a guest in another character’s title series. Debuting in “Werewolf by Night” No.32 in 1975 written by Doug Moench and with art from Don Perlin. The first part of a two-issue story arc pitted the titular Werewolf against a mercenary who wore boots and gauntlets made of sliver, a hooded white cloak, and a crescent moon symbol on his chest. From his first appearance, Moon Knight was an anti-hero, Marc Spector/Moon Knight have continued their exploits on the pages of comic books for the past 47 years, and still counting.

During those years after his debut, Moon Knight appeared in the occasional team-up issues interacting with heroes such as Spider-Man and Daredevil. These comic books and being featured in the Marvel Spotlight story eventually got Moon Knight his solo series in 1980 with Moench and artist Bill Sienkiewicz headlining the comic’s creative team. here is where Spector’s backstory gets rewritten and expanded with the mercenary’s new roots vastly reaching to the deserts of Egypt. After an altercation with a fellow mercenary and eventual nemesis, Spector becomes wounded and left for dead, that is until he reaches the tomb of the Egyptian moon god, Khonshu. He awakens revived and fully healed and now with a new purpose becomes the fist of Khonshu- a knight for the vengeful god.

Along with the Moon Knight persona, Spector also adopts a couple of other identities to help serve his new god and defend the innocent. Starting with the titular character on which the series focuses is Steven Grant, a Jewish mild-mannered and utterly sincere guy who works at a gift shop at the British Museum. He’s been working at the museum for six months but isn’t aware of Marc or his condition which he believes is a sleeping disorder as seen during the trailers he calls a stay awake hotline and chains himself to the bed to not blackout again.

Photo: Courtesy of Disney+

I can tell that throughout the first four episodes that Marvel studios have taken great care and excitement in bringing Moon Knight’s story to an episodic series. They’ve grounded the character and have utilised his comic book heritage by celebrating what makes him popular with the readers such as paying homage to his comic roots and embracing the supernatural, dark, and grittier aspects which help as the new series aims to show audiences a modern iteration of the character, with breaking new ground and exploring a Marvel Super Hero that we’ve never seen on screen before.

They’ve taken Moon Knight’s origin story, which is very much based on Egyptology and took him on a globe-trotting, thrilling adventure. At its heart the six-part series is designed as a mystery, who is Steven Grant, why does he keep dreaming about another life, and what happens when elements from those dreams start to invade his waking hours. Steven’s journey for answers leads him to a hidden world of gods and monsters, and a battle that could shape the future of the MCU. Moon Knight so far seems to be influenced by many classic adventure films such as Night at the Museum, Tomb Raider, and Indiana Jones. With these classics in mind, Marvel achieves the goal of telling a relentlessly entertaining story filled with unexpected twists and turns.

Mohamed Diab, a talented Egyptian auteur and now the first Arab director to release a Marvel project came to the studio’s attention with his 2016 Cannes selection opener “Clash”. Impressed with his vast sense of scope and scale, Diab directs episodes 101,103,105 and 106, episodes one and three being among my favourites. Diab is masterful at directing he’s able to craft a serialised story that is personal, showcasing a superhero who’s struggling with himself and his inner conflict. Diab also presents Egypt’s ancient heritage and modern culture freshly and authentically. Parts of Moon Knight are surreal yet grounded in reality which add to the intrigue and mystery.

MOON KNIGHT AND MENTAL HEALTH

Moon Knight dives into the concept of dreams and the blurred lines between what is real and imaginary. Throughout the series, you’ll no doubt question the concept of his experiences and his connection with Egyptian mythology. The comics have a long history of exploring mental health with sensitivity and depth and he never let his mental illness define him. The series doesn’t shy away from these elements and the darker aspects of the character are at the forefront. Steven/Marc are dealing with real-life relatable traumas and Isaac portrays an honest depiction of what Dissociative Identity Disorder is, and shows what a lot of people have to deal with. It’s depicted more as authenticity rather than just being a story plot device.

Photo: Courtesy of Disney+

As I previously mentioned, Moon Knight is depicted as a mystery, the audience will know as little as Steven does, and like him are swept along on this journey and are kept in the dark on what is real and what is not. You empathise with Steven as you watch the action unfold from his perspective, it makes you feel what it’s like to have all these voices and wild things happening to him.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Marc Spector is the total opposite of Steven grant, he a former mercenary and now the brutal avatar of Khonshu. As Marc and Steven’s separate lives collide, Steven is forced to come to grips with the fact that he’s also being used by the Egyptian god such as his alter-ego of Mr Knight. Armed with Steven’s knowledge of the ancient Egyptian world, Mr Knight helps to complement Moon Knight as his approach to conflict is using his wits and puzzle-solving.

Moon Knight features an exceptional performance from Oscar Isaac who can switch effortlessly between torment and British humour as he battles between these two personalities. He understands each character and his performance is like watching two drastically different people who unfortunately share the same body.

Khonshu, (who has become my favourite character from the series) is a CGI performance captured character voiced by Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham. Khonshu is the Egyptian god of the moon and the self-appointed god of vengeance, he has walked the earth for centuries waging a one-god war on perceived injustices. However his actions have made him an outcast among his fellow gods, and as a result, Khonshu now needs his earthly avatar, Marc Spector, now more than ever if he is to continue to enact his version of divine justice.

Everything Konshu is asking for is sometimes very brutal and hard for both Steven and Marc. Their relationship and the struggle for control showcase that the abilities Khonshu have given him come with a very, very high price.

Photo: Courtesy of Disney+

Going against Marc/Steven and Khonshu is Ethan Hawke in his first foray into the MCU. He plays nefarious, philosophical, religious zealot Arthur Harrow a cult-like leader who is no stranger to this deceptive world of gods and avatars as he seamlessly manoeuvres his way through it to wage a war against Moon Knight and Khonshu.

May Calamawy is a force of strength as Layla El-Faouly, an archaeologist and adventurer who knows Marc Spector well. Layla finds herself unintentionally dragged into Marc’s troubling and dangerous existence, as both must put their difference aside and forge a new relationship if they are to survive the battle ahead.

MAKING MOON KNIGHT

The cinematography and production designs are simply flawless throughout the four episodes I’ve seen. The details and visuals are mesmerising and some even lead to fantastic mind-bending sequences which truly lends themselves to the horror genre. Production was adamant about reflecting Ancient Egypt with much precision as possible by working collaboratively with Egyptologists to make sure that the designs authentically represented the period.

With large scale practical sets on soundstages filming in Budapest, Hungary began with a large production of 10 stages totalling 195,000 square feet and 10 acres of the backlot. Construction on the sets was a massive undertaking. The museum scenes required the production team to create an entirely new Egyptian exhibit from scratch, filling the museum’s hall with hand-built columns, displays and even a brand new fully stocked gift shop.

Steven’s apartment gives the idea that he lives in an attic to reflect the pyramids. His eclectic apartment has many books, historical artefacts, maps, and his goldfish Gus. Books divide any open space.

Costume designer, Meghan Kasperlik approached looking at the history of the gods, life practices and Ancient Egypt burials and how the culture could be modified and modernised to work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Steven reflects the coolness of Brixton whilst Marc sports a desert look with a tactical, utilitarian costume all elements of clothing foreshadows Moon Knight.

Speaking of Moon Knight his costume features his armoured chest piece which is very distinctive. It’s embedded with Khonshu’s name in hieroglyphs along with a full moon that is centred along the crescent blade. Knee pads are built into his costume along with more hieroglyphs flowing throughout his outfit inscribing Khonshu’s oath.

Mr Knight dons a custom-made three-piece suit which is certainly comics accurate.

Photo: Courtesy of Disney+

Aside from being Marvel Studios’ first Disney+ series focusing entirely on a new superhero, Moon Knight is set to be much darker and more violent than its predecessors. So far the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the streaming service has offered us a sitcom-infused mystery, action and adventure, a multiversal story, an animated anthology, and a six-part Christmas special.

VERDICT

I’m so ready for Moon Knight to dominate your screens, it’s rooted in culture and brings a new era of the Supernatural to the MCU. It’s more mature and they’re not pulling back, there’s a tonal shift that features brutal and loud reactions. With spectacular visuals, a phenomenal score by Hesham Nazih, and story-focused world-building. Moon Knight has a chance to lead the MCU in an exciting new way that feels distinct from what came before.

Embrace the chaos on March 30 on Disney+

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The Acolyte | Official Trailer | Disney +

Star Wars series that takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.

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Genre:

Action, Adventure, Drama

Release Date:

June 4, 2024

Director:

Leslye Headland

Cast:

Dafne Keen, Amandla Stenberg, Jodie Turner-Smith

Plot Summary:

Star Wars series that takes viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era.

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Maya’s Story To Echo Through Time

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Vincent D'Onofrio (Wilson Fisk) & Alaqua Cox (Maya Lopez) (Disney)

Here is the review of Marvel Studios’ Echo, now streaming on Disney Plus.

Plot

Marvel Studios presents “Echo,” spotlighting Maya Lopez (Alaqua Cox) as she is pursued by Wilson Fisk’s (Vincent D’Onofrio) criminal empire. When the journey brings her home, she must confront her own family and legacy. Streaming January 9 on Disney+ & Hulu. Set your Disney+ profile to TV-MA to stream. All episodes will be available on Hulu until April 9.

Starring: Alaqua Cox, Vincent D’Onofrio, Chaske Spencer, Graham Greene, Tantoo Cardinal, and Devery Jacobs.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez / Echo (Disney)

Review

There is in total 5 episodes and it was available immediately and this is really amazing, allowing us to binge watch the season in 1 sitting. A big part of Echo’s storyline focuses on giving the viewer a glimpse into her ancestral history and her past with the Kingpin of crime.

Maya develops as a strong character in this story more than the Maya we met in the Hawkeye series. Alaqua Cox really delivers an exceptional performance. As always Vincent D’Onofrio plays his heart out as Wilson Fisk, the notorious Kingpin who has been dominating our screen since the Daredevil TV Series on Netflix back in the day. We get a few surprises, even though short pieces, but it is still appreciated and I will not spoil those surprises in the hope that you will go and watch the episodes later and experience the same level of joy I experienced.

A lot of effort was done with regards to the language options. Choctaw was added as a language option on Disney Plus. I read that some of the cast learned American Sign Language (ASL) in order to communicate with Alaqua on set and this really warms my heart. A lot of research was done on the Choctaw nation and was incorporated as part of Maya’s storyline.

Alaqua Cox as Maya Lopez / Echo (Disney)

Some of the less positive notes are the series was rated as meant for mature audiences only. However, the action scenes were little and not as brutal as expected if compared with the likes of the Daredevil series. Maya’s powers was also changed slightly from the comic books but it takes a positive turn closer to the end. Really looking forward to the part Maya / Echo will play later on as I feel she portrays the part of a hero very well.

I highly encourage watching the original Netflix series’ Daredevil and Hawkeye to get the background of some of the key characters in this story. I highly encourage subscribing to Marvel Unlimited to read up about Maya Lopez / Echo, Wilson Fisk / Kingpin or any of your favorite Marvel characters.

There is a mid-credits scene that you don’t want to miss, but no post-credits scene. The mid-credits feel familiar to the comic book direction.

I rate this series a 3.5 out of 5. Maya’s story will echo through the cinematic universe, as a story of bravery and strength. Sometimes all you need is a healing hand, a key theme from Marvel Studios’ Echo. I’m looking forward to more of Maya on the screen.

Watch all 5 episodes on Disney Plus now!

Echo Official Trailer (Marvel Entertainment)

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Doctor Who: The Giggle, A Wildly Satisfying Finale That Teases A Promising Future

Russel T. Davies’ Whoniverse-reshaping finale is a thrilling, heartwarming, chilling, and satisfying hour of telly, that never eases up.

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SPOILER’S AHEAD!

As brilliantly put by beloved Doctor Who companion Donna Noble, “That was completely nuts!” The final episode of the three 60th anniversary specials, “The Giggle” may just well be the most bonkers, yet impeccable piece of Doctor Who TV… ever. Where last weeks special “Wild Blue Yonder” saw writer Russell T. Davies deliver a masterful episode in restrained storytelling, “The Giggle” is the showrunner unleashed. Throwing epic musical numbers, eerie moments of horror, impactful social commentary, and a divisive yet satisfying final 20 minutes result in an unrelenting hour of telly, and perhaps the best episode of Doctor Who ever.

Kicking off with John Logie Baird’s invention of the television in 1925 as well as introducing audiences to “Stooky Bill” – a real puppet who could put Annabelle to shame – “The Giggle” quickly picks up where “Wild Blue Yonder” left off. In the midst of world wide carnage, the Doctor (David Tenant) and Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) must search for answers as to why planes are falling out of the sky, and human beings are busy beating each other up on the streets, leading the two to the celestial Toymaker (Neil Patrick Harris), one of the most powerful beings in the universe.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

Russell T. Davies is never one to shy away from delivering a script oozing with his rightful fury at current social climates. Take previous episodes like “Midnight” “The Long Game” and “Turn Left” for example all offering impactful stories with themes of human nature, the power of media, and anti-immigration prejudice respectively. Here, Russell T. Davies satirically imitates anti-vaxers, anti-maskers, conspiracy theories, and government empathy brilliantly. Some of it may be a little on the nose – such as a hilarious and obvious dig at Boris Johnson – but it more or less works in favour of poignant, and well-crafted satire.

“The Giggle’s” mad cap, and unprecedented energy is only more apparent through the episodes many tonal shifts. Under the guise of another property, this constant tonal shift would have felt jarring. But in “The Giggle” the episode pivots in-and-out of horror, comedy, musical, and drama effortlessly, adding to episodes manic and unpredictable nature.

Keeping on theme with last weeks unnerving episode, “The Giggle” is surprisingly steeped in horror. Especially for those who suffer from pupaphobia, the fear of puppets. Whether its the imagery of that “gosh darn” creepy doll, Stooky Bill, or the Toymakers endless gothic labryinth, “The Giggle” is another terrifying episode of Doctor Who, proving once again that this sci-fi show isn’t for children. No scene is scarier perhaps than the haunting scene with Stooky Bill’s wife, Stooky Sue, who’s found crying in the corner of a dark room, before creeping towards Donna chanting a horrifying rhyme. But its all played for laughs when Donna nonchalantly beats the puppet senseless.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

Elsewhere, Neil Patrick Harris’ Toymaker who stole the show. His multi-faceted, and multi-accented villain proves to be the deadliest enemy the Doctor has ever faced, as well as perhaps the most entertaining. Harris’ intoxicating performance enthuses the Toymaker with fear, intelligence, and a playfulness unlike any villain we have seen before. His celestial abilities are terrifying and unparalleled, making the Master – the Doctors nemesis/best friend – look like an amateur. Through the subtle yet deeply fascinating line, “I made a jigsaw out of your history” – explaining, teasing and disregarding the recent messy Whoniverse canon with ease – the Toymaker becomes much more of a threat. Lets not forget the unexpectedly brilliant “Spice Up Your Life” musical number where the Toymaker effortlessly turns soldiers into balloons, once again proving his celestial power.

Bringing back David Tennant – the most popular actor to ever take on the role – was perhaps Davies’ wisest decision upon returning, and reviving the show. Tennant’s return doesn’t just provide a great headline for the show that would drive its viewers back after an incredibly messy past few years, but also offers a heartwarming vulnerability to a character who hasn’t stopped running, fighting, and caring for nearly two decades. The Doctor has never taken a second to grieve, or stop running. He’s lost innumerable companions, and was responsible for destroying half the universe with the Flux. A messy piece of Doctor Who canon which has now been beautifully woven into the Doctor’s character thanks to Russel T. Davies.

Davies delves into the characters vulnerability, and insecurities forcing the Doctor to question his being, and ability to save others. The line “I’m all sonic, and TARDIS, and Time lord, take that away, what am I?” is an incredibly powerful piece of character development, made all the more impactful through Tennant’s performance. The Doctor has always put himself above others, but “The Giggle”, more specifically Donna, encourages the Doctor to stop trying to sacrifice himself for others, and to instead take a second to care for himself.

With Tennant returning to the role, audiences will instantly have that connection to this version of the Doctor, making his vulnerability much more heart-wrenching, and his ending much more satisfying.

Tate was equally fantastic as she has been through all three specials. Her confident, and hilarious performance continues to prove why Donna Noble is one of the best ever Doctor Who companions, and her chemistry with Tennant is deeply infectious.

Still from “The Giggle” (BBC Studios)

The episode carried a lot of emotional stakes way before the title music kicked in, what with the episode forcing viewers to sit through another David Tennant regeneration. However, what was supposed to be an emotional finale, resulted in an unprecedented and incredibly exciting final 20 minutes. Davies introduced possibly the most divisive aspect of the show… well ever. We are of course talking about, Bi-generation. The idea that instead of changing faces, the Doctor instead becomes two Doctor’s. A current Doctor, and a new Doctor. This not only served as a great way to introduce Ncuti Gatwa, who instantly proved himself as an extraordinary Doctor, but also gives the 14th Doctor a satisfying arc that finally lets him rest.

Bi-generation is a fantastic concept for now, but in the future, this idea could lose all the emotional weight a regeneration used to harbour. Saying goodbye to a current incarnation of the Doctor was never easy. But, if Bi-generation is a continued element then no regeneration will be as impactful or emotional as it once was. For now, it was perfect.

All in all, “The Giggle” – and collectively all three specials – are some of the best work Doctor Who has ever put out. The final special of the 60th celebrations served as a satisfying and emotional goodbye to the modern era of Doctor Who and an exciting tease at the franchises future. It’s an undoubtedly bonkers satire, that blends horror, musical, comedy, and drama elements together to create the best and most heart-warming Doctor Who episode ever. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us Whovians.

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