The Man in the High Castle Review
Amazon Original TV Series
Synopsis (No Spoilers):
Set in an alternate reality of the 1960s, the United States has lost World War II and is being occupied by the winning forces, the Nazis and the Japanese. The ungoverned neutral zone (Rocky Mountain area) split the country, the east controlled by the Nazis and the West, the Japanese. While the fear of
capture, torture, and execution keep most citizens obedient, both territories have an underground resistance force attempting to eliminate their totalitarian occupiers.
Based on the alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick, Japan and Nazi Germany are in the midst of a cold war. Adolf Hitler is in the late stages of his life, with both sides anticipating war with his successor. Yet to harness the power of the atom, Japan is desperate to delay the war, while the Germans are anxious for continental domination.
The story centers around Julianna Craine(Alexa Davalos), a submissive, but frustrated, young woman in the Pacific States. After seeing her long-lost sister murdered in the street, Julianna is thrust into a world of secrecy and danger as she’s given a news reel showing the American forces winning the war. Refusing to let her sister die in vain, Julianna takes her sisters place in support of the resistance. Unable to comprehend the value of the reel, Julianna drags her boyfriend Frank Frink(Rupert Evans) into the Japanese-German-Resistance crossfire.
Review: (Minor Spoilers)
Unless you’re a history buff who loves the idea of what may have been, I’d stay clear.
The premise of the show is fantastic, “what if we lost the war”¸but the execution is too shallow and unconvincing to hook a major audience. Moving painfully slow, the series feels stretched. A 10 episode series, which probably should’ve been done in five or six, seems to go on forever. The intrigue and imagery of Nazi and Japanese twists on American flags and advertisements was enough to keep me interested for three episodes, but I must admit, if I wasn’t committed to writing a review I would’ve switched to the latest Netflix original series.
The large resistance movement is represented by three or four characters that conveniently connect with our protagonist when she needs them the most. The acting is poor. Only Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa(Yes, Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat) puts in a convincing performance as a conflicted official of the Pacific States. Filled with forgettable characters, you’re constantly thinking, “who’s that guy again” It makes you wonder, “Am I a racist, or did they just do a poor job establishing who that is?” I settled that they just did a poor job. Every scene that features a dynamic between Japanese and Nazi forces is fantastic, but there are so few of them that they take a backseat to poorly constructed characters.
I’m most upset about the lack of resolution. The reels? You never really find out what they are or what they do. The Man in the High Castle? You never meet him. I feel like they developed a series expecting the audience to stick with it regardless of the lack of payout. There isn’t even a big cliffhanger or what now moment at the end. I’m sorry Amazon, you’ve lost me… Please don’t take away my 2-Day Shipping.