Moon Knight is finally here and oh boy is it worth the wait.
About a week ago I was lucky enough to watch the first four episodes of Moon Knight on Disney+ and I've barely been able to wait to share my thoughts on it.
Moon Knight is easily one of my favourite superheroes and if you aren't familiar with the character (like most people) check out this article before reading the review.
There have been four live action Disney+ Marvel shows to date and all of them have been pretty good. Wandavision started great but fumbled that bag a bit at the end, Loki was excellent, Falcon and The Winter Soldier was pretty solid even if it was nothing new, the same goes for Hawkeye. If nothing else Disney+ gives a platform for stories or adaptations that might not work as movies and that's exactly why Moon Knight works so well.
Moon Knight has to establish a whole new side of the Marvel universe and tell a new story about new characters within that, it's allowed to do this so well by the longer TV show format. I feel that Moon Knight would be heavily restricted by the two hours a movie would allow. It doesn't feel longer than a movie though, every episode runs at a great pace so you won't be left feeling bored or tired of the concept after a couple hours like you might with a series like Iron Fist.
Don't go in expecting a hyper-serious character study like The Batman, I think a lot of people were expecting them to be similar, but equally you shouldn't go in expecting a one-liner fest like a lot of the MCU properties. Moon Knight walks a fine line, it still manages to feel like a Marvel property but with the slightly less outlandish tone that we normally see in the DCEU properties. What I'm trying to say is that it feels completely at home in the MCU but in its own unique way. This has been a big talking point recently since director Mohamed Diab talked about it being not being "attached to the MCU" (a widely misinterpreted comment), it does feel unique and at least up to the fifth episode it doesn't try to link it to the wider universe and that's so refreshing.
Is it any good though? The simple answer to that is yes. I loved every episode of Moon Knight. The performances are great, the story is strong, the set design and script are both great too.
Oscar Isaac puts in maybe the best MCU performance we've seen yet, the way he switches from Steven Grant to Marc Spector to Moon Knight to Mr Knight and at one point Khonshu is so effortlessly done and he nails every character. In fact his British accent is pretty solid too, even if it's a little bit corny. The amount of talent it takes to play five different characters who all look the same while still making it convincing is crazy, I would even go as far as to say that Oscar Isaac's performance is on a par with James McAvoy's performance in Split.
Ethan Hawke puts in a pretty solid shift as Arthur Harrow too, I'm not going to sit here and pretend that he's on a level with Willem Dafoe as the Green Goblin or Josh Brolin as Thanos but he's definitely better than the majority of the MCU villains so far. His motives make sense (even if I'm a bit tired of this whole push for "relatable" villains), his power set is interesting, and his backstory is compelling. I can't say too much about Harrow without spoiling it but what I will say is that he's definitely one of the strongest elements of the show.
Suit design is amazing but I'm not really going to go into that, you can see that for yourself already but what I will say is that I love the way they integrate the Moon Knight and Mr Knight suits and characters into the show. There are some great scenes that really show just how powerful the suit is, particularly in episode three when Marc Spector finds himself fighting a group of jousters (that will make no sense but I can't and won't give anymore context or details but you'll see what I mean when you watch it).
Speaking of fighting, the fight choreography is excellent. It's probably not on Daredevil hallway fight level but it's a hell of a lot stronger than the majority of the MCU fighting. I think that the nature of having a slightly less powerful character means that you can't just rely on crazy visually pleasing superpowers to make a fight scene good, there's no glowing beams or massive explosions (at least in the majority of the show) there's just solid hand to hand combat and it's excellent. Some of the fight scenes feel surprisingly brutal for an MCU project, it's no John Wick so don't expect hideously graphic violence but you can expect it to feel a lot more like how Ben Affleck's Batman did in the warehouse scene in Batman V Superman.
The way they handle the dissassociative identity disorder side of the charcter is really great. At no point does it feel like a weird gimmick or throwaway character trait. Even the way they build up to it story-wise is great as you watch Steven try to figure out why he's waking up after sleeping for days or why his pet fish is suddenly different. Up until now I would say that the show that's handled this subject matter best has been Mr. Robot and I would put Moon Knight's handling and utilisation of DID on a par with that, which is extremely high praise.
It's not the perfect show in every way though, there are a couple instances of some ropey CGI particularly in one or two locations. This seems to be a weird theme in the MCU at the minute, we've all seen the stills of Flash Thompson at the party or Andrew Garfield's weird wide CGI neck in Spider-Man No Way Home. Admittedly it might look better by the time release rolls around as aa couple of scenes definitely look better now than they did in trailers. It is nitpicky to pick this out and I don't like to see people moan about slight problems with CGI but I just don't get why Marvel don't use The Volume (the big LED screen The Batman and The Mandalorian have used). There is also some great CGI in places too, there's a couple of scenes in Egypt in which they're tracking something using the stars and some of those scenes are gorgeous. Khonshu looks great, the Moon Knight suit looks great, the other gods that we see also look great so as always character CGI is absolutely top tier.
All in all, it's extremely hard to fault Moon Knight in any major way, yes the CGI is a little ropey in places but overall it serves as a reminder of why the MCU is so successful. Moon Knight is refreshingly original in every way, it opens up a whole new side of the MCU and it's a side I can't wait to explore more of. I didn't get to see the final two episodes and I literally cannot wait to, that's a great marker of just how good Moon Knight is. I've watched a million different superhero shows but none of them have had me wanting to keep watching as much as Moon Knight did, season one hasn't even finished and I'm already desperate for season two. It helps that I was already a huge Moon Knight fan before the show but I can honestly say that it's a genuinely great show without you having to know the character in advance, it also doesn't rely on a love for the wider MCU to enjoy so if you want to watch this but you're not massively into the whole Marvel multiverse then don't worry one bit.
It's extremely hard to review four episodes of such a huge show without spoiling anything or going too in-depth but I will be doing weekly episode spoiler filled reviews and we will be discussing it on the Cloven Hoof podcast so look out for that one.
If I had to give Moon Knight an overall rating (which I do) I'd give it an extremely solid 9. The only downfall is the location CGI in the early episodes which with the ridiculous budget that comes with a Disney show shouldn't really be an issue. The show itself though is excellent and I can't wait to watch more.