The Man in the High Castle operates on one of the greatest what if? concepts in history: what if the Allies lost WWII? It’s somewhat of a miracle that this particular hypothetical alternate universe hasn’t already been made into fiction, considering the possibilities brought to mind by the premise alone. It was odder still that Philip K. Dick’s story only really came to light when it was optioned for a television show, considering how fantastic the book is. And the show’s pilot, which aired as a part of Amazon’s Pilot Season back in January, didn’t disappoint. We’re whisked across a mid-’60s America that might have been, an Orwellian totalitarian state consisting of an unsettling blend of the familiar and the strange. We’re in New York — but this isn’t New York. We’re in San Francisco — but something’s out of place here. And it’s not just that the buildings are plastered with propaganda (although they are); something darker has taken root and changed society, changed the people.
“Sunrise”, the second hour, throttled back a bit on all of that (everything’s still plastered in propaganda). Joe and Juliana, the NYC- and San Fran-dwelling protagonists of the pilot, have now met up in the Neutral Zone that makes up the middle third of the Once-United States. They’ve fled the Greater Nazi Reich and the Japanese Pacific States, respectively, for reasons that aren’t altogether dissimilar. Copies of the mysterious film known in hushed whispers as the work of the equally mysterious “Man in the High Castle” have been smuggled by each protagonist, which on the surface seems a well-wrought story structure. Here are the show’s two most interesting characters, bringing the show’s most interesting item to a central location, bringing the story inward from each coast.
Continue reading The Man in the High Castle 1.2 – “Sunrise”
Happy End-of-Comic-Con! In lieu of our traditional news posts (which contain, you know, news) and to make up for a missed post this past weekend (was on a bender — duty calls) we’re bringing you a special SDCC-centric news post comprised exclusively of the best trailers from this year’s legendary Con. What’s that you say? This sounds like a lazy way to “write” an article? Well, shit. Aren’t you a perceptive one.
First up are the big ones: amid the onslaught of superhero flicks on display in San Diego, DC Comics properties finally stood out with two impressive trailers. The first is Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice:
Continue reading Film & TV News: July 16
– Oscars went to Eddie Redmayne for The Theory of Everything (Best Actor), Julianne Moore for Still Alice (Actress), and Birdman for mostly everything else. A huge fist pump goes to Whiplash for winning three out of their five nominations, including a long overdue acting award for J.K. Simmons. All in all, a fairly good year for movies.
-It turns out Neill Blomkamp actually is directing a new Alien movie, not just Instagramming it. Thoughts?
-After shitting on him a little bit in last week’s news roundup, Kodi Smit-McPhee got cast in X-Men: Apocalypse as the supercool mutant Nightcrawler. We’ll have our apology ready for when he nails it.
-Happily, The Man in the High Castle got picked up by Amazon for a full first season; sadly, Niko and the Sword of Light did not.
Continue reading Film & TV News: February 23
Much has been written about Amazon’s Pilot Season, particularly its live-action slate–and with good reason, judging from potentially great new shows like The Man in the High Castle. As for the animated fare, critics have been criminally silent–possibly with good reason, judging from titles like The Stinky & Dirty Show. But their first mistake is lumping those shows together with Niko and the Sword of Light. (Their second mistake is probably assuming that animation has nothing new to offer.)
Niko started out as a carefully crafted motion comic. Actually, it started as a labor of love by a group of storyboard artists, concept designers, and animators from several high profile studios. But thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, Niko’s journey can now be purchased and experienced on iPads everywhere. These adventures follow the last human boy as he seeks to rid his savage land of the darkness that’s consumed it. With the help of a sword (of light, naturally) and a strange host of creatures he meets along the way, Niko braves countless enemies and discovers more mysteries about his past. Continue reading Niko and the Sword of Light 1.1
This isn’t the first time that Amazon’s pilot season — which sees the simultaneous launch of a dozen or so opening episodes of a variety of new shows — has been mostly a waste of time. Most of these shows don’t deserve a second episode. Finding The Man in the High Castle, the diamond in this season’s rough, might not be an altogether uncommon occurrence either; Amazon’s Transparent just took home a fistful of Golden Globes, so the streaming service is slowly catching up to Netflix when it comes to quality series.
But make no mistake: The Man in the High Castle is anything but common. Like any great what if? story, only one thing has been changed here. This could easily be our world, the exact one we live in today, if not for this one change; though the America of The Man in the High Castle is utterly unrecognizable, that revisionist tectonic shift was borne entirely of the initial tremor, the single change. That change, admittedly, asks the grandfather of all what ifs: what if the Nazis had won the war?
Continue reading The Man in the High Castle 1.1