Release Date(s)2015 (August 22, 2017)
Studio(s)ABC Studios/Marvel/Netflix (Buena Vista Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: A+
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: F+
Once the success of Marvel and Netflix’s Daredevil was firmly cemented with its first mind-blowing season, the time had come to give other Marvel characters their due that hadn’t had much of a live action approach previously. Based upon the “Alias” comic, Jessica Jones was a full throttle shift in another direction. Maintaining the real-world approach set forth by Daredevil and keeping the story set within the same universe, Jessica Jones aggressively established a character with a different set of principles, but also more overt and relatable problems, particularly for the women watching it. It’s now considered THE other great portrayal of the character in live action from, helping to set up a universe of Marvel characters that eventually culminated in the recently-released The Defenders, which brings together all of the Marvel Netflix shows: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist.
The story of Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) involves a broken-down, alcoholic, and pessimistic private investigator, who is also equipped with an unnatural strength and agility. Opening her own agency in Hell’s Kitchen called Alias Investigations, she attempts to rebuild some normalcy into her less than savory life after a series of tragic events from her past that continue to haunt her. Along the way, she discovers that the architect of those events, a deranged, mind-controlling criminal named Kilgrave (David Tennant), is back in town and is looking for her to use her for his own personal whims. Along the way, she receives help from a number of people, including her adopted sister Trish (Rachael Taylor), a police officer named Will Simpson (Wil Traval), a no-nonsense lawyer (Carrie-Anne Moss), and an unusual bartender named Luke Cage (Mike Colter).
Much like Daredevil, Jessica Jones is absolutely solid in terms of performances and characterization. Every character has something to do of substance without feeling shoehorned into the proceedings. The aspects of the story, which are slightly difficult to talk about without getting into actual spoilers, touch upon issues such as rape and assault, as well as posttraumatic stress disorder, all of which relate to Jessica Jones in a very personal way. Krysten Ritter’s portrayal of the character is quite magnetic. While you root for her and hope that she comes out of all of this a better person, you also loathe her treatment of other characters at times and her unwillingness to step outside of her own selfish ways. She’s a complicated character, to say the least. Kilgrave is certainly to blame for a lot of it, and you come to understand that as the show goes on. David Tennant’s take on the character is absolutely diabolical at times, but again, like Wilson Fisk, has an air of reliability as well. And again, like Daredevil, I’ve never read any of the comics that Jessica Jones is based upon, so as far as accuracy goes, I have no comment.
Behind the camera, the quality of the show’s technical prowess is also on par with its predecessor. The show is noir-ish in nature, without going overboard and shooting it in black and white. The action is a little more dirty, meaning that the camera work is much more perfunctory when it comes to shooting it, but it’s still relatively tame compared to most modern action films. Like Hell’s Kitchen in Daredevil, the world of Jessica Jones is gritty and sullied, perhaps even more so. We spend a little more time with the character in the daytime as well, showing off the city in brighter environments, giving a stronger sense of geography. The highly-stylized opening is probably the best of the Marvel Netflix shows, including its theme, which is a mix of noir and electronic beats, making for an interesting mash-up. The score for the show is a little more integrated and also stands out a bit more than before. If someone were to come up to me and say that Jessica Jones was their favorite Marvel Netflix show, I would have little reason for argument. It’s certainly more socially conscious and less of a straight superhero show than the other shows. It also carries weightier themes and is more adult in terms of content, but quality-wise, it’s on par with Daredevil in terms of the sheer quality of it.
Making the leap from streaming with variable speeds and bitrates, every episode of the show’s 13-episode run continuously impresses on Blu-ray. Although it was shot digitally, a strong and almost-organic presentation is on display, revealing a colossal amount of fine detail on both foreground and background elements. Skin textures, costumes, and objects are all captured at the highest level of high definition quality that you could ask for. The color palette, which doesn’t offer a wide variety of hues, is also extraordinary. Blacks are inky deep but with a vast amount of shadow detail, while brightness and contrast levels are virtually perfect. Nothing seems out of the ordinary, but if you look hard enough, you might spot a tiny bit of video noise or banding in certain areas. However, both are so diminutive in nature that they’re of little relevance, not to mention overshadowed by the sheer quality of the overall presentation. The only audio option available is an English 5.1 DTS-HD track, but it’s all that you’re really going to need. It’s a track that’s always in motion, meaning that all of the speakers get a constant workout. Dialogue is always perfectly clear and relegated to the front for the most part. However, score and sound effects, in particular ambient activity, are constantly being shifted. It makes for an involving and immersive sound experience, with a copious amount of clarity, dynamics, and LFE activity. Subtitles are offered in English SDH, but unfortunately, there are zero extras to be had.
As the Marvel Netflix universe continues to unfold with season after season of show after show, it’ll be interesting to see what directions they push each of their characters. While a second season of Jessica Jones is on its way, not to mention her aforementioned participation in The Defenders, it’ll be a curious time to see what elements are incorporated from the comics while trying to maintain the world that Melissa Rosenberg and her associates have created. The bottom line though is that if you’re any kind of a superhero fan, Jessica Jones is a must watch. Whether owning the show on Blu-ray is important to you will be a key decision in getting future Netflix shows on disc, something that is increasingly becoming something of an anomaly and could be a bad omen for said content. My gut feeling says to go out and support these releases. They may not be loaded with bells and whistles, but they’re absolutely stunning and solid presentations of a show that is definitely worth re-watching in a non-streaming environment.
- Tim Salmons