‘Moon Knight’ Episodes 1-4 (Review)

Apr 5, 2022

Moon Knight, the latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, centers on Steven Grant, a museum employee suffering from mysterious blackouts, who soon finds out he’s the avatar of Egyptian moon god Khonshu. The series will air over the course of six weeks, starting on March 30, 2022, on Disney+. Here are my thoughts on the first four episodes of the upcoming show.

Disney+

Created by: Jeremy Slater
Directed by: Mohamed Diab, Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
Written by: Jeremy Slater, Michael Kastelein, Beau DeMayo, Alex Meenehan, Peter Cameron & Sabir Pirzada
Starring: Oscar Isaac, May Calamawy, F. Murray Abraham, and Ethan Hawke

Before I start talking about Moon Knight, I feel like I should start out by sharing how I feel about the MCU in general. While I do appreciate the MCU for what it is and what it became, I have some major issues with the so-called Marvel formula. I feel like most MCU projects have the same tone and look visually the same and I don’t appreciate that for some reasons.

One of the reasons why I don’t appreciate that is that I feel like it limits the kind of story you can tell with certain characters. I don’t, for example, think that characters like Ant-Man, Spider-Man, and Thor should have stories with the same tone as they are wildly different and have wildly different lore. So that was one of my biggest concerns regarding Moon Knight. Will it feel the same as the rest of the MCU? I surely hoped not.

So now, let’s actually talk about Moon Knight.

If I had to describe Moon Knight in one word, it would be uneven. From the CGI to the tone, from the writing to the acting, some things work and some don’t.

what works in moon knight

First of all, the acting. Well-known actors Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke are, as expected, acting beasts. They are very engaging actors and are definitely responsible for carrying the show. May Calawamy is also great. I really appreciate her character Layla, even though I feel weird about some plot decisions regarding her character in future episodes.

Speaking of characters, this show has basically four characters only: Steven Grant, Marc Spector, Arthur Harrow, and Layla El-Faouly. Now, this being the MCU, it wouldn’t be very much of a surprise to see a lot of pivotal new characters showing up in the last few episodes of Moon Knight. But, in case it doesn’t happen, and I certainly hope it doesn’t, I appreciate that the show is allowing itself to give more focus on a small group of characters, rather than trying to fit a lot of character into the series.

Another thing that I really appreciated was the tone of episodes 3 and 4. I feel like the series really finds its balance by the time we get to those episodes, and 3 has a Mummy/Indiana Jones-like vibe, while 4 (by far the best episode out of the ones we watched) has some genuinely cool horror inspirations.

All four episodes are also really well directed. I enjoyed the fight scenes a lot and I think they were pretty dynamic. The directors do a great job with using Moon Knight’s abilities in the fight scenes and it’s very cool.

I also am a big fan of how isolated this show is in comparison to the rest of the MCU. There are no mentions to Tony Stark, the Avengers, Thanos or the Blip, and, honestly, that was a relief. The MCU needs more self-contained, character-focused stories.

what doesn’t work in it

There were plenty of things that did not work for me, personally. As I mentioned above, Moon Knight is in a lot of ways uneven. I feel like the writers don’t really understand what this project is supposed to be. On one hand, these are characters who really deserve more time to be properly explored and developed, maybe even more than 6 episodes. On the other hand, however, I don’t feel like there is enough plot to justify this not being a movie, and especially episodes 1 and 2 feel a lot like they are one big movie, which is a problem most MCU shows have. The pacing of the show just isn’t the best. Episodes 3 and 4 kind of fix this and I’m curious to see what the last two episodes will look like.

Another thing that felt uneven to me was the tone of the series. As with most MCU projects, there are a lot of misplaced and unnecessary quips and jokes, especially involving the character of Steven, and they almost never land. The jokes feel like they don’t belong in this story, and honestly, they don’t. If I had to compare with another MCU project, I’d say that the jokes here work as much as they do in Eternals or What If…?, which is, not at all. Again, episodes 3 and 4 kind of have a more consistent tone that works better, but I’m still not sold on this show tonally-wise.

Overall

Despite all this, the show still manages to be one of the most unique productions of the MCU, and the MCU is in serious need of productions that feel like their own thing and not more of the same, so I appreciate this show for trying. I’d say there is a lot of potential, and depending on how the last two episodes go, Moon Knight might end up as one of the best MCU projects. It just needs to figure out what exactly it wants to be. This was honestly a pleasant surprise to me, and is actually very entertaining. I look forward to the last two episodes.

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