Marvel’s newest hero, Jessica Jones, was added to the television screen recently. Her debut was full of the gritty noir of a private detective. But, does it beg a second look?
Filmed and set in the streets of New York City, the premiere goes full bore in its efforts of capturing the feel of being in Hell’s Kitchen. The viewer is drawn in with the title sequence consisting of a shady pastel intro establishing the angles to come. When live action hits the screen, the sets fill in the sense of mystery as a backdrop to our main character’s motivation. Manuel Billeter has been signed on to capture the entire first season of Jessica Jones as well as a spin off, Luke Cage, coming in 2016. His imprint on the look and angle will be an asset. While he steadies well on the actor, he also throws in the altering angles of up and down into the mix to show the different directions this story is coming from. It is an effective tool in keeping us guessing and not getting too comfortable that we think we know what is coming next.
Director SJ Clarkson brings us a tight vision that adheres to the mystery necessary to drive the story. Clarkson successfully brings the intense emotion of the snapshot into private lives without revealing the source for the angst. Her only weakness was the change in direction of the characters. While Clarkson steadily shows us the moments frozen in indecision of Jessica Jones, the character deciding is not given the same deep focus. The character will go from brooding and avoiding to making an abrupt turn around without showing the actually emotion of the decision to change or the strength it must have taken to make that strong of a decision.
Sean Callery’s latest effort to create the soundscape for a television series sets the tone for the grittiness that hovers around the show’s characters, keeping the viewer concentrating on the foreground emotions. While the score effectively keeps the mood in line, the efforts to score individual themes identifying specific characters and action types doesn’t grab. Hopefully, it will develop as the characters do.
Finally, (to some) the important part. The cast is led by Krysten Ritter, who stars as Jessica Jones. Her immediate statement to the viewer is snarkiness. Her strut down the sidewalks tells anyone watching not to mess with her. She doesn’t want the attention and hides in the shadows while watching the world that goes on without her. Ritter does this almost well. However, Ritter does fall short in a couple of areas. She is a very beautiful woman and the show makes sure she wears just enough make-up to remind the viewer. In a world where someone is surviving on their own and hides in plain sight, as well as shadows, make-up and beauty are two attractors to be avoided. Here is to hoping that the show loses the make-up and allows Jessica Jones to be more believable. The other point is, while Ritter has established the cool part of the character, she still needs to develop more toughness if she is to survive.
The supporting cast seem to be all cut from the same personality cloth: to revolve around Jessica and reveal just enough information to look weathered from life’s experiences.
Melissa Rosenburg and her team seems to be hit by the same industrial restriction of trying to cram everything into the first episode. This is common for most projects derived from a literary source. Instead of revealing just enough to start the season’s long arc, as well as the episode plot, we are meeting everyone as if they have just arrived at the same party at the same time. Introductions can happen at the party. Bonding moments for everyone can’t.
Overall, I do believe it deserves an average of four stars based on what I saw, as well as the promise to come. Just remember to give this one a chance beyond the first episode. The real show will come more slowly throughout the season.