Curse this age of online binge watching! Don't they know I have things to do? Oh well.
Okay, I finished watching Man in the High Castle last night and since it was already past midnight, I decided to throw the early release of SyFy's The Expanse on the pile as well.
Here's my review of both.
We truly live in the golden age of production design, both of these are beautiful with amazing attention to detail. Let's start with MitHC.
It's beautifully acted and the performers deserve a lot of credit for keeping you involved. I say that, because it drags...a lot. There's an overarching mystery of course, some conspiracies, a resistance and a whole lot of Nazi and Japanese nastiness, but hey that's what they're there for. What you don't know is what the plot is there for, because they tease an awful lot but really don't resolve anything.
What I'm there for is the performances. Rufus Sewell is amazing - and horrifying - as New York SS head John Smith. At first this America seems impossible but after his portrayal you really begin to believe in an Americans could sign up for the third Reich, enthusiastically. He's by far the most interesting character. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is just brilliant as trade minister Tagomi as well, but much outside those fantastic portrayals, it begins to feel tedious. It's amazing to see this world constructed, but I couldn't give two figs for the leads playing Blake and Crain. I know, I know...they're conflicted, everyone's conflicted. I just don't care. I was rooting for the Marshall at points. I do care about the films however, but I'm nervous. The main mystery at the heart of this, the films and the identity of the mysterious eponymous Man in the High Castle, is barely teased. I feel as if I am being baited. I've watched a lot of high concept stuff get LOST in the weeds, if you know what I mean, because the writers didn't really know where they were going. They were just peppering the drama with mysteries with no idea how to resolve them. Let's hope that's not the case, but I've been burned so many times before, I'll remain wary, though I will check in for the second season, the acting is just that good. Basically we get an alternate history that is really mesmerizing in its detail and conception overlaid with what can only be described as a paranormal mystery which is a head-scratcher that seems to be moving in the general direction of a big reveal. It is, after all, based on Philip K. Dick, so that was to be expected. Let's hope they don't blow it.
Now on to The Expanse.
It was just the first episode but again, just gorgeous, and more importantly, we have ships laid out like real spaceships with decks at perpendicular angles to the engines instead of like the decks of a cruise ship. They move like real spaceships with thrusters and hard G turns instead of swooping around like biplanes in a vacuum. No artificial gravity or inertial dampeners either. Though our expectations of zero-g sex are probably too high, and we still can't seem to get around dark gritty corridor porn. Seriously, where does sci-fi get this obsession with oodles of dark corridors?! Outside the Enterprise in Star Trek it's like the future world has never heard of lighting. Heck, even the dingiest modern oil tanker today isn't this depressing. Oh well. Other than that it portrays a believable near future with asteroid dwellers called belters and an inner-solar system political conflict between Earth, Mars, and the human colonies scattered around the asteroid belt fighting over freedom and resources. The whole thing begins with an amazing fly through shot of the colony on Ceres while some revolutionary is monologuing about oppression, Any show that gets the science and society that well deserves a prolonged look, it's just...well I'll be honest, it seems utterly conventional beyond that. The characters are all stock issued, hard nosed detective, handsome leading man, natural leader, and a missing girl who's certain to be at the heart of a mystery that's going to change the fate of mankind...blah, blah, blah. I hope it rises above this. All expectations from the book suggests it will. It is a good but not brilliant beginning. I will definitely still tune in though.
Okay and now for some house cleaning.
Look I'm not going to bore you with the descriptions of my last few years. Unemployed author gets serious depression and drops off the radar for years?! The Dickens you say! Yeah, yeah, I'm a living stereotype, but I've been wanting to come back for a while now, still working on...well...a lot of things, but this review seemed like a good way to get back into the blog and kick it all off. The hope is to return to the sequel of Limbo's Child and a bunch of other projects. If you are still there after I've abandoned you for so long, well...thank you, and I hope there is more to come. More reviews, more writing and more stories.
Thanks for sticking with me.