Moon Knight Review (Episodes 1-4)

When Steven Grant (Oscar Isaac), a mild-mannered gift-shop employee, becomes plagued with blackouts and memories of another life, he discovers he has dissociative identity disorder and shares a body with mercenary Marc Spector (Oscar Isaac). As Steven/Marc’s enemies converge upon them, they must navigate their complex identities while thrust into a deadly mystery among the powerful gods of Egypt.


Directed by: #Mohamed Diab #JustinBenson #AaronMoorhead

Produced by: #KevinFeige #LouisD’Esposito #VictoriaAlonso #GrantCurtis #BradWinderbaum #OscarIsaac #MohamedDiab #JeremySlater

Starring: #OscarIsaac #MayCalamawy #KarimElHakim #F.MurrayAbraham #EthanHawke

Released: 30th March 2022

Film review by: Ahmed Abbas | Published: 29th March 2022 | Edited: 5th April 2022

It was December 2015 when Oscar Isaac’s first appearance as a Marvel character in the X-Men: Apocalypse teaser trailer was ridiculed. And yet, the special screening of the first two episodes of Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight was met with a standing ovation. Isaac’s iteration of the Steven Grant-Marc Spector biformity trades the bright blue makeup of the X-Men villain for an awkward, yet endearing gift shop worker conjoined to a brash, unprincipled mercenary.

Moon Knight takes us on a journey with Grant as he uncovers his newfound, suppressed personality and unravels the never-ending train of troubles his alter ego precipitated. The series first portrays Spector as an invader of this innocent man’s body, before subtly hinting that this narrative may in fact, be the inverse. Isaac’s performance of these polar opposite men surrendering control of their body to each other, is a performance unparalleled.

The “bodymates” are juxtaposed in all manners but must come to terms with each other, as their shared body can only be controlled by one of them at any given time. Stephen’s gentle nature is exhibited by the care of his goldfish, while Marc’s brash psyche is evinced by the aftermath of Steven’s blackouts. The events of the first four episodes have the pair forgo their differences, but place their ethics as a major dilemma between them – Spector has no qualms with his barbarity, while Grant takes great issue with his body being used for lethal acts – a contention the series seems poised to resolve in the episodes to come.

From the opening scenes, we waste no time with unnecessary scenes and immediately meet our antagonist, and protagonist(s). Arthur Harrow’s (Ethan Hawke) introduction in the opening moments is an automatic improvement to the pacing of Marvel shows, as Moon Knight opts to reject the slow burn approach of many of Marvel’s previous outings.

We have an unprecedented four-way relationship between Grant, Spector, Khonshu, and Harrow, where each character in this relationship acts as both an antagonist and a protagonist for the other three at various times within the series’ first four episodes. Ethan Hawke’s tremendous performance takes full advantage of this, as the empathetic and apologetic identity he adopts while he drains the life from a supposedly innocent, elderly woman leaves viewers unsure of how they should feel – his charisma is welcoming and evokes trust, while his actions say otherwise. This is even replicated with one-half of the main character, as Harrow appeals to Grant’s timid nature.

Throughout the four episodes, you simply cannot tell whether Harrow truly cares for Grant, or whether the character is performing to gain Steven’s trust and remove his rival’s most powerful weapon. This is a masterclass on display, where both writing and acting have synergised to deliver a character who compels the audience to undergo a prescribed ride of emotions.

Powerful performances are not exclusive to Isaac and Hawke. Moon Knight is among the better-cast Marvel projects, as the entire ensemble gives it their all. No better actor could have been chosen for each role, and even more encouraging is that the show features a consortium of Egyptian performers, which is appropriate for the extent of the show set in Egypt. May El Calamawy, an Egyptian-Palestinian actress, is the most notable example of this, and actually used her experiences for reference, allowing her to offer insight into her character and uplift her character on paper as well as on-screen, transforming her into the heart of the show.

The effort given by the cast is reflected across the board. This is evident from the show’s visuals, as the cinematography is among the best I’ve ever seen. The marriage between the director’s & cinematographer’s artistic styles and the production designer’s craft birthed a revolutionary mechanism of storytelling. If one were to watch Moon Knight on mute, the main character’s dissociative identity disorder is visually conveyed just as well as it is written. The set design is incredible, employing an abundance of reflective surfaces as apparatuses for the two main characters to perceptibly confront each other.

Moreover, the practical design of locations ranging from the streets of Brixton to the tombs of Egypt are unbelievably believable, and remarkable work was put in (as can be read in the press conference breakdown). Mohamed Diab’s (executive producer and director) insistence on minimalizing the use of green screen is apparent and sets Moon Knight apart from any Marvel production.

Moon Knight effortlessly manages to evolve the standard of humour in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), whilst also creating Marvel Studios’ most mature project yet.

Within the first half of the debut episode, viewers are treated to more blood within a single shot than has been seen in the entirety of Phase 4 to date. That is not to say that Moon Knight is overly violent, but rather that previous efforts have felt somewhat suppressed – it is a breath of fresh air in the MCU. The humour itself is also situational and not laboured – the title character isn’t going to take a break from a life-and-death moment to make a gag to the viewers.

Dotted throughout, are plenty of horror-like segments, ranging from the display of Khonshu, the God of the Moon and of Vengeance, as a grand and powerful figure that is to be feared, to the numerous, true horror scenes in a single episode, which were tense and genuinely superior to sequences within several horror pictures in recent years.

Moon Knight learns from Marvel’s past, taking what worked from Marvel’s most acclaimed projects, and combining them into one smorgasbord of a series. It fuses the best parts of FX’s Legion, Marvel’s Daredevil, and Marvel’s The Punisher, incorporating such genres as adventure, horror, action, fantasy, and psychological thriller, and it just happens to feature the “Marvel Studios” banner above its title.

Moon Knight is not another superhero piece to be skipped or saved to the ‘watch later’ category; it is among the best of the comic book genre and is one to be viewed and discussed by all on a weekly basis. Moon Knight has all the makings of an iconic show, and if it sticks the landing in its final two episodes, it’ll be placed among the ranks of the “greatest shows of all time” – Marvel’s first masterpiece could arise.

Bold, sincere, and surreal, Moon Knight is a complete reinvention of the MCU, taking viewers on a psychedelic expedition inside the broken mind of Marvel’s latest, most lovable protagonist.

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