Luke Cage Complete First Season from Netflix comes to us in a 4 disc Blu-ray with slipcover. All 13 episodes of the Marvel superhero are included with a bonus Blu-ray only special feature. Should you add Luke Cage to your collection? Read on to find out!
Marvel’s Luke Cage is just trying to live under the radar in Harlem. He was framed for a crime that he did not commit. Cage tries not to get involved with the dirty business, crime and violence of the city but he gets tangled among these types of people due to his cash side jobs. Eventually he can’t ignore the ruthless crime bosses and innocent deaths of people around him. Cage learns that with great power comes great responsibility. He’ll have to fully embrace his destiny as a superhero crime fighter.
Luke Cage (also known as Power Man) started as a comic book superhero for Marvel Comics in 1972. Luke Cage is Marvel’s first TV series headlining a black superhero. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the new show has roots in the Blaxploitation films of the same era but with a modern twist. Mike Colter stars as the tough but cool hero Cage, reprising his role as the same character in Jessica Jones.
Cage’s powers are superhuman strength and unbreakable skin. However, the show approaches the subject as more of a character study with rare instances of his powers being shown (at least at first). I feel that this is one of the strengths of the show. The atmosphere and soundtrack are very well done and put you in the world it is conveying. There is quite a bit of dialogue and world building in the first half of the series that focuses on the people who make up this world. Harlem is a living breathing world full of jazz music, hip hop and colorful characters that all seem to have their own secret motivations.
Unfortunately, a lot of this buildup is almost ruined by a second half of silly situations and over the top performances. Most would probably expect that sort of thing from a comic book show but it’s very tonally different from where I thought they were setting the show up towards. It’s not an unforgivable sin but it does make quite a bit of the character building and subsequent direction feel too much like filler material. This type of thing could be rectified by a second season, so hopefully the showrunners learn what works best.
The show does have the typical cliches of both superhero stories and crime dramas but it’s handled fairly decently. I think if you enjoy the performances of the actors, particularly Mike Colter as the main character, you will be able to forgive the faults of this first season. The aesthetics of the show and the world they are setting up is nicely done for the most part. I applaud Marvel and Netflix for taking chances on more diverse characters and lower tiered comic heroes for their shows.
There are some really good performances by the secondary characters too. Mahershala Ali (Moonlight) plays the club owning villain Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes in such a fun manner that I wish he was in every episode. Erik LaRay Harvey, Simone Missick, Rosario Dawson, and Theo Rossi round out the recurring recognizable faces from the first season.
A majority of the series’ writers are African-American, which I imagine is a rarity in television. The show uses the “N word” which is a bit odd to hear in a Marvel property but refreshingly honest. The show has neo-noir elements but with a flavor of spaghetti western sprinkled in. I don’t feel the show pushes too many boundaries (especially considering what I watch regularly) but it is a nice step in the right direction. I wish the whole show was realistic and gritty but without giving spoilers away lets just say that, as I mentioned earlier, about halfway through there is a major shift in the storyline and in my opinion the show never quite recovers from it tonally. It’s a good but not great comic book TV show. It will certainly be interesting to see where they go from here with it.
The show looks and sounds nice, just as you would expect a modern television show to be. The sound comes through very well with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio which makes the soundtrack shine. English Subtitles are included. The visuals have a realistic look with a stylistic color scheme.
Offstage at Harlem’s Paradise – 23 minute featurette – Join stars Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Alfre Woodard (Mariah), Theo Rossi (Shades) and Simone Missick (Misty) in an intimate round table discussion about life during production of Luke Cage: The Complete First Season.
Luke Cage Season One Final Thoughts:
I think that Luke Cage is an interesting show that should please fans of Netflix’s other Marvel series. The odd tonal shifts, silly situations and dialog may put some people off. However, I didn’t feel it was too much of a detriment to the show. If you are a fan of 70’s films like Guy From Harlem or Shaft, you will find lots of entertainment here.
I was a bit disappointed with there only being one special feature on the Blu-ray set. I also don’t like that the discs are stacked on top of each other in the case. While Blu-ray discs are much less prone to scratches, this isn’t exactly a budget release. The price (MSRP is $39.99 for 13 episodes) may scare some potential buyers away with the bare bones release. You can watch the show on Netflix to see if it’s right for you or pick up your copy on Amazon or Best Buy.
Note: This Blu-ray was sent to us for review. This has not affected our judgement or editorial process in any way. Please contact us if you have any questions regarding this process.