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The Falcon And The Winter Soldier Episode 1 – Review

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Marvel Studios

Episode one of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier series from Marvel is here, streaming now on Disney Plus, how does it move their story forward, here’s our review.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier is the latest MCU series streaming on Disney Plus. It is set a few months after the events of both Avengers: Endgame and WandaVision. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier picks up from the departure of Steve Rogers. It chronicles the stories of his closest friends in the MCU, Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes.

At first glance, it seems to be simply an opportunity to develop their backstories in a way that they probably couldn’t in a normal movie. But it is also acting as a way of finding the new Captain America. And introducing new characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe

If you found the stylistic aspects of WandaVision completely at odds with everything else you’d seen previously in the MCU, then you’ll be far more comfortable here. This was much closer in tone to the Marvel movies you know and love. After a COVID-enforced gap in releases, this is like a cinematic comfort blanket.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.

After Endgame

This first episode focuses more on Sam Wilson and Falcon than it does Bucky, but it was the latter’s scenes I found much more interesting. We open with one of the most extraordinary action sequences I’ve ever seen on television. It sees Falcon rescuing a kidnapped American soldier from the clutches of LAF and Georges Batroc. It was the type that only Marvel could make for TV, and made me think that we are essentially watching a movie in 6 self-contained acts. Zack Snyder will be fuming!

He has made the difficult decision to return Captain America’s shield to the US Government. Wilson does this despite obvious misgivings about doing so that only grow by the end of the episode. He clearly feels the pressure of taking on that mantle from Steve Rogers despite James Rhodes’ attempts to reassure him. He tries to settle his conscience by returning to Louisiana to help his sister who is struggling to keep their family business afloat.

Paying debts

Meanwhile, Bucky Barnes is attempting to get his life back on track, after his time as a brainwashed assassin working for Hydra. My favourite scene from this episode is his government-mandated therapy session. We get our first real insight into his obvious struggles and attempts to rationalise his crimes. The director was obviously having some fun with the invasive camera angles and lighting. All those elements, all made for some obvious tension between Bucky and his therapist. The dichotomy of Bucky trying to right his wrongs while wrestling with what he did is going to be an incredibly interesting aspect of this series.

Part of that will be his relationship with his elderly neighbour Yori, whose son Bucky killed while working for Hydra. There’s already a lovely buddy romance developing between them, including Yori asking out Leah on Bucky’s behalf. How will Bucky and Yori’s relationship survive that inevitable bombshell when his murderous past comes to light?

The Flag Smashers

Away from Bucky and Sam, The Falcon’s military colleague Joaquin Torres is in Switzerland on some sort of reconnaissance mission. His task is to infiltrate the Flag-Smashers, an anti-patriotism group who look set to be the main antagonists of the series. It appears that they have members who possess powers like The Avengers. In the comics, Torres becomes The Falcon after Wilson becomes Captain America.

The emergence of the Flag-Smashers will almost certainly result in a showdown with the new Captain America. Steve Rogers successor John Walker who looks likely to team up with The Falcon and The Winter Soldier later in the series. The new holder of the vibranium shield is tasked with extolling American values around the world. He seems expected to do that in a more overt way than Steve Rogers was perhaps perceived to have done. We will have to watch to see whether he becomes his comic book alter ego US Agent in this series. Needless to say with Marvel, there’s a subplot of friction with authority, despite Sam Wilson and James Rhodes’ close ties with the military.

Short run

As this series is only six episodes rather than WandaVision’s nine, we can expect the plot to move a bit quicker. There’s clearly a much stronger emphasis on action than mystery. It also looks like there’s a very clear plan for character development. In particular that development means rehabilitation for Bucky so he can become a key character in the next phases of the MCU.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier aren’t the first names that spring to mind when you think of the most interesting characters in the MCU. But there’s more than enough to suggest that this will be a really enjoyable series to watch. Expect more cameos than we saw in WandaVision and more breathtaking action sequences. Equally, I’d expect more WOW moments and fewer WTF ones. With Marvel’s incredible production values and attention to detail, this series will still provide plenty for us to talk about over the next six weeks.


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10


Thank you for reading our review of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier episode one. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Read our WandaVision episode nine review HERE.

Read IMDB information about The Falcon and The Winter Soldier HERE.

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Cobra Kai Season 4 – Review

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Cobra Kai Season Four image
Netflix

Cobra Kai season four is out now on Netflix and the All Valley is back and better than ever. Here’s our review.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.

It’s January, and new shows are popping up everywhere. This brings us to the show that I and my friends have been holding our breaths for: the fourth season of the hit Netflix series Cobra Kai! After three seasons, I wondered if there was anything left to mine from the Karate Kid lore or the Johnny/Daniel dynamic. I am happy to report that this might be my favourite season yet! It manages to not only expand upon the universe it has created, but to bring in a new villain, who is so bad that he threatens to outdo even John Kreese!

Alliance

Season four sets us off where the third left off, with Johnny and Daniel having joined forces to fight Cobra Kai. Their friendship arc is the glue that holds this season together. The story focuses largely on whether they will be able to pull it together and make their partnership work. As in previous seasons, their relationship has its ups and downs. The stakes are heightened, however, as the season leads up to the All-Valley Tournament. A bet between the three senseis – Kreese, Daniel, and Johnny – means that losing the All Valley is losing the title of sensei.

This season explores the ways that both Johnny and Daniel work with the kids. It also examines the kids’ struggles as they prepare for the All Valley while dealing with conflict within the ever-changing network of friends and enemies in the dojos. Robbie has left juvenile hall and decided to join up with Cobra Kai as a means of inflicting revenge on both his dad and Daniel. Tori and Sam continue their rivalry. And John Reese’s old friend Terry Silver (of Karate Kid 3 fame) shows up to kick Cobra Kai into high gear.

Daniel’s son, Anthony, who has largely been absent until now, faces his own dilemma when his friends begin bullying Kenny, the new kid in town. This soft-spoken middle school character brings us into the world of the younger kids, setting up yet another storyline. Kenny becomes the victim of a gang of kids (including Anthony), enduring round after round of bullying before Robbie takes him under his wing. After his induction into Cobra Kai, the formerly shy middle-schooler becomes a bully himself.

Shades of grey

This brings me to one of my favourite things about the show. The constant back and forth dynamic between characters makes us feel that anything is possible. There is no black and white in the world of Cobra Kai. Where the Karate Kid told us that Daniel was good, and Johnny was bad, this show gives us a very different point of view. It’s a world where we’re never sure who to root for. In this season, we even see Hawk make a return to the “good guys” side after giving up his spot at Cobra Kai.

With Eagle Fang (Johnny’s new dojo) and Miyagi-Do teaming up, the kids – and the adults – have to learn to work together. Of course, complications ensue. Johnny becomes jealous of what he perceives as Miguel’s preference for Daniel over him. Sam wants to learn both her dad’s karate style and Johnny’s, despite her father’s discouragement. Meanwhile, at Cobra Kai, Kreese is losing his grip on the dojo. His former war buddy, Terry Silver, puts off a rather benign appearance in episode one, growing more and more evil with each episode.

This season is lacking in many of the big fight scenes of the previous seasons, instead choosing to focus their energy on the characters. The All Valley Tournament features several great karate matches and offers a satisfying conclusion to Johnny and Daniel’s arc. In the end, Cobra Kai takes the tournament win, but Johnny and Daniel have reached an understanding.

New champions

Tori defeats Sam to take the women’s All Valley trophy but later overhears her sensei paying off one of the referees. It’s clear that Cobra Kai has pulled yet another fast one. But the season ends on an even more ominous – and unexpected – note. Terry Silver assaults the over-aged former Cobra Kai member, Stingray, sending him to the hospital. He then makes a deal with Stingray to blame the crime on Kreese. We end the season with Kreese in handcuffs, Terry Silver set to take over Cobra Kai, and the future of Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do uncertain. In a last shocking twist, Miguel leaves town in search of his biological father.

Although some may miss the school hallway throw downs, I found this one satisfying in a different way. It just goes to show that the ever-expanding Cobra Kai universe can keep bringing surprises season after season.


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 9/10


Thank you for reading our review of Cobra Kai season four. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Check out our Hawkeye episode one and two review HERE.

Read IMDB information about Spider-Man: No Way Home HERE.

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