Moon Knight Series Review (Spoiler Free)
When fanatic followers of an old deity are on the verge of destroying life on Earth, an unusual man is granted god-like powers to stop chaos from unleashing.
Genre: Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Created By: Jeremy Slater
Cast: Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, May Calamawy, F. Murray Abraham, Antonia Salib, Fernanda Andrade, Rey Lucas & Gaspard Ulliel.
Average Run Time: 40-50 min.
No. of Episodes: 6
Release Period: 30 March - 04 May 2022
The new MCU streaming property was announced in 2019 during the D23 conference, with the first trailer having been dropped in mid-January this year. Personally, I heard about Moon Knight but never read one of the comic books, so I went into this series without knowledge of the character. Still, the first trailer enticed me, so I was looking forward to it. Question is, can it hold up with Marvel’s best of the best?
Steven Grant, a gift shop employee at the London Egyptian Museum who has dissociative disorder, discovers that he’s been granted the powers of an Egyptian god. However, he soon finds that these powers are wielded by his other personality, bringing chaos into his quiet life.
Moon Knight feels like the least “Marvel-ish” entity inside the MCU, while still adhering to its typical tropes. The inclusion of Egyptian culture and mythology opened up a new world to explore, bringing a refreshing change of pace inside this monstrosity of a franchise, which since the beginning of Phase 4, is quickly becoming stale. The atmosphere is darker, containing quite a few bloody scenes, however, this being a Marvel series, it also included the particular humour, breaking up serious dramatic moments with silly jokes. Still, the show was different enough, keeping me engaged throughout its 6 episode run.
Thematically it also went for a more adult route, exploring physical and mental abuse, as well as mental health issues. The first and second chapters kept the issue of Steven’s dissociative disorder mysterious enough, to entice the audience, even including some light horror aspects. Sadly from there on, it quickly deteriorated into a generic adventure, reminiscent of Universal's The Mummy, with Brendan Fraser. It is at the end of episode 4, that we finally get a deeper look into Marc Spector’s troubled mind, exploring some of his troubled past that lead to his split personality, as well as touching on some spiritual themes of the afterlife.
The final chapter was to my utter surprise the shortest one, wrapping up the former act's topic in the first couple of minutes, and jumping into the formulaic action scene that all Marvel Shows displayed in their finale. Yet it leaves open questions at the end, which the audience might not get an answer to.
The dialogue was mostly well written, especially during the interactions between Marc Spector’s switching personalities. It had heartfelt moments and lines that brought a smirk to one's face. Sadly, that can not be said of every interaction, as this TV Series also contained cheesy conversations between characters.
Oscar Isaac proves once again, how good he is as a character actor. Playing a man with multiple personalities, he managed to immerse himself in each one, jumping back and forth, not only having believable interactions with himself but great chemistry with the other actors! As Stephen Grant, he depicts a shy, geeky, English museum employee and even though not perfect, he does put on a decent British accent. His other persona is that of American mercenary Marc Spector. It is hinted that, while Stephen is the innocent, light side of Marc, there could be a further personality reflecting Marc’s darker nature, with Marc himself being the balanced middle.
Ethan Hawke is one of my favourite actors and brings much credibility to his role as cult leader Arthur Harrow, the antagonist of the show. While Harrow’s motives as a religious zealot are clear and his path as a villain is comprehensible, we get too little background information on him to understand how he started on the path that led him to where he is now. A shame, as it would have given his character more depth.
May Calamawy as Layla El-Faouly rounded out the casting, bringing more drama to the narrative. Marc’s ex-wife is an archaeologist and adventurer herself. Layla was based on several characters, but most notably Eve O’Connell, née Carnahan, from the 1999 Mummy franchise. Sadly Layla herself was written rather thin, simply being used as a convenient tool, to progress the story when needed.
As with most Disney+ properties, this TV series looks beautiful and is high budget. The picture is squeaky clean - as it is with all MCU properties by now - but it plays well with light and shadow, bringing a more mature, sometimes even spooky atmosphere. Most episodes make use of reverse imagery through mirrors or reflections on water, glass, etc. to stunningly metaphorize the multiple personalities arc. Then there are some blackout sequences, where heavy cuts were used as a nice gimmick, to make the audience feel as confused as the main character.
The computer effects are mostly well rendered, especially with the transformation of Marc into Moon Knight, or how Mr Knight was depicted. Khonshu, the Egyptian moon god was also designed amazingly and blended well into the real world, that is until the last episode when he started looking more comic bookish. Sadly that was also the case with further Egyptian gods, who did not look believable enough.
The choice of music was genius, always underlining the theme of the chapter. The main soundtrack itself is mythical and epic, suiting a project taking place in Egypt, yet at times it seems to mimic the Snyderverse DCEU’s compositions a little bit too much.
Verdict: In the end, Moon Knight was good but not fantastic. It had the potential to be more than just a typical Marvel instalment, instead of being shackled down by the studio's formulaic structure. Nevertheless, the topic of mental health was a nice core part of the story, even if a more thorough exploration would have given the end product more depth and weight. The first two chapters had enough intrigue to hook the viewer, with the following two sections feeling more like action- filler. The fifth part was the most compelling one; giving glimpses into Marc’s past and the realms of the afterlife. The finale then cooked down into the typical huge battle, trying to wrap up everything into a nice little bow, in what was the shortest episode. The actors are great, and the cinematography is handsome. Moon Knight gets a solid 8.0 out of 10.
Have you seen Moon Knight? Did you like it? Leave a comment and thank you for reading!