Review: The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016)

6

“There used to be a time it was hard to tell a comatose person from a dead one, so coroners tied bells to everybody in the morgue. “
– Tommy

SYNOPSIS: A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harbouring dark secrets. – via IMDB

I have been wanting to watch this for the longest time, and just never really got around to watching it. This past weekend saw the God of War release, which meant my husband was unavailable and all over that game. I watched a few things and finally decided it was time to get this off my watch list. Slowly but surely (after playing the whole day), my husband started watching snatches of this as I was watching, and eventually asked me if we could watch it, he would take a short break.

Why? Because this looked intriguing. He was fascinated about a whole movie revolving around a single autopsy, and I was also interested to know how it would be handled. Man, there was so much that I liked about this movie. Right off the bat, you can’t help but notice the cinematography. It’s beautiful – the colours, the lights, the shots, everything is so deliberate and works to bring you this gorgeous cohesive whole together. I was so drawn in by the visuals alone. Then came the music – never taking over, but never absent, just so moody and ever present. Cox and Hirsch also give super solid performances to this movie, taking it up another level.

The movie balances well, too, going from a regular drama movie, a thriller with questions almost, and embarking on a dark horror path, and it handles it all smoothly and work along well. The jump scares are placed strategically and while maybe not totally unpredictable, are pulled off well. My husband jumped at each one successfully, at any rate. I also really liked the story, and how the set for the movie might be limited, but never felt like too little. The movie is a short one, giving you just what you need and not stretching itself out.

I felt that this movie to be fresher and more creative than many horror films over the years, and I liked it. Cool, understated, solid, super atmospheric, it was pretty much exactly the kind of movie that was going to appeal to me. I think it will work for most horror fans. I am so glad I have finally seen this, and can see how I will go back to it in future. Highly recommended.

Review: Death Note (2017)

5

“Every human spends the last moments of his life in the shadow of a death god.”
– Ryuk

SYNOPSIS: Light Turner, a bright student, stumbles across a mystical notebook that has the power to kill any person whose name he writes in it. Light decides to launch a secret crusade to rid the streets of criminals. Soon, the student-turned-vigilante finds himself pursued by a famous detective known only by the alias L. – via IMDB

You know, I wondered how this was going to go down. I am sure there are going to be a ton of people that are going to hate on it and knock on it (yes, I see I am right having Googled the reception and rating). Anime is not an easy thing to bring to screen, and I must confess I have skipped a lot of the things. I don’t watch anime, though my brother in law and a very close friend of mine swear by it.

Now, while I do not and have not watched a lot of animes, Death Note is one of the few I actually did watch. Well, most of it, until it got so drawn out and boring I wanted to scratch my eyes out. It was entertaining until about halfway, three quarters through, then it just got crazy. When I saw the run-time for this, I was interested to see how exactly Wingard was going to handle the whole story and bring it to life. In short, pretty damn well actually.

Yes, I know a lot of people might want to shoot me for that, and I don’t care. I liked that this was fast and got to the core of the story without all the filler stuff that just bored me out of finishing it initially. The movie felt a bit longer than it was, not because I was bored, but because there was a hell of a lot of content crammed into a short space of time. It never felt rushed though, which is a bonus. It set up what was needed and then told the story, and it came together pretty well.

A big drawback for me was the casting of Keith Stanfield as L, he just didn’t really feel right. The other actors fit and did alright with their roles, but Stanfield just stood out because he did not seem to gel with the other actors, and his performance came across as forced, which I didn’t like. Also, I could have done with more of Ryuk. Light was definitely a strange character here, like he was never scared of Ryuk, but that also didn’t always hurt this. It all just rolled along fine, just strange.

As this was done by Wingard, it looked stylish and I enjoyed the soundtrack and score. Wingard understands style, that’s for sure, so that was one of the things nailed down really well in Death Note. All things being said, I quite enjoyed this and I really think the internet is hating on it way more than it deserves.

Review: Split (2016)

6

“You like to make fun of us, but we are more powerful than you think.”
– Dennis

SYNOPSIS: Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities. They must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th. – via IMDB

This is something I wanted to check out for a multitude of reasons. The front-runner being McAvoy, let’s not play, but another being that it seems M Night Shyamalan is making a tentative comeback. Apparently. I still need to see The Visit, though I have started watching Wayward Pines, which I see he has a hand in (UPDATE: it’s gone horribly wrong, unfortunately). Anyway, the only thing I knew about this is that McAvoy plays a character who suffers from Disassociative Identity Disorder.

Well, right off the top of my head, McAvoy is, unsurprisingly, great here. Really. When he gets to sink his teeth into bizarre roles, he really shines. He can pretty much play it all, and he is without a doubt the part of this film that keeps it truly engaging, seeing as the entire movie depends on his portrayal and his role. Each one of his personalities was distinctly different from the last, from speech to mannerisms and body language. I really liked that. Ana Taylor-Joy is also very good here, and I thoroughly enjoyed her. I liked her character, and thought she and McAvoy played off each other quite well, and she held her own really well, making her more than just the kidnapped girl on the side. Betty Buckley, too, was quite good, though you really need to question how she did not investigate more thoroughly what was going on when certain personalities/alters were evidently desperate for her help.

Anyway, a lot of people had a lot more to say about this than I am going to. I liked the way it was done, and thought the pacing was good, because the story gets rolling pretty quickly, and then gives you all that time to watch McAvoy splinter and Casey fight for survival, trying to be cunning and escape unharmed, who constantly has us wondering about her past, which we get these flashbacks for throughout, delivered at exactly the right moments. Man, what a messed up story! This movie really is all about the characters, and I feel that they were balanced quite well.

Anyway, Split handles itself well, and is carried by solid performances from McAvoy and Taylor-Joy. It is engrossing, and truly draws you into this bizarre story and crazy world, and Shyamalan style presents many twists and turns, some you see coming/guess at, and others you don’t. Split is quite silly in a lot of aspects, and yet manages to present itself as quite serious. It blends the ludicrous and heaviness rather well. Definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already.

September Blind Spot Review: JFK (1991)

6

“Telling the truth can be a scary thing sometimes.”
– Jim Garrison

SYNOPSIS: New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison discovers there’s more to the Kennedy assassination than the official story. – via IMDB

A movie about the JFK assassination? Man, this must have been tailor made for me! Ask anyone I know (Natasha knows about as well as my husband) how I feel about the Kennedy assassination. It is ridiculously fascinating and I love reading about it or watching things on it – it never gets old for me. So yeah, this is something I just never got to, and this was the year to correct that.

I think JFK is actually a great movie for someone to watch who doesn’t really know much about the Kennedy assassination, or the ludicrous explanations that were put forth about it, and that embarrassing investigation into it. Really, it covers a lot of relevant ground, and also happens to have another story over and above it, bringing to Zodiac to mind, because of watching Jim Garrison’s obsession with the case. A lot of research went into this and that is evident, but I would not say to go into this movie and take everything it presents as gospel, for reals. Look at it as entertainment, don’t take it as a hardcore documentary and the holy grail for answers to the JFK assassination. Enjoy it for the conspiracy it discusses.

The movie is shot well and I enjoyed the pacing – it is long, but takes the time to lay down the evidence and the story and then get going with it, which I liked, but I can see how it could annoy others. One also cannot deny that the movie looks and feels dated. The pacing was just fine here, and the performances were pretty damn good all around. I was so engrossed by the telling of this from Stone, how the case was presented and researched and pursued. It was quite tense and definitely entertaining. There are obviously a lot of issues with the movie in the sense that there are a lot of fictitious characters brought in and spewing “facts” and Stone sets out the good guys and the bad guys in a classic black and white way without actually finessing anything there. The movie is also presented as “fact”, which at times is a little difficult to swallow, and you can see a lot of confirmation bias going on for Garrison at times. That being said, this movie had a lot of things to balance, from fact to fiction and everything in between.

Overall, JFK is an entertaining watch sure to keep you hooked, especially if you enjoy conspiracies (whether you take them seriously or just like to hear what they are) and especially if you are interested about what happened that day in November of 1963, provided you don’t think this movie is going to give you all the answers, evidence and proof you are looking for. But as a movie taking a look at some of the conspiracies surrounding the assassination, balancing fact, fiction, everything? So worth it, truly.

August Blind Spot Review: The Orphanage (2007)

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“Seeing is not believing. It’s the other way around. Believe, and you will see.”
– Aurora

SYNOPSIS: A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend. – via IMDB

Finally got to checking this out, too, and again, another one I am pleased to have checked off my list. For years and years it has been recommended to me and I have always been like Captain Eventually about it, but this year was the year for me! I honestly didn’t know too much going in to watching this, not about the story, nothing (except maybe that the kid from above was in it), and I am grateful for that. This is the kind of movie where the less you know, the better.

The movie gets into the swing of things gradually, not too rushed or anything, and you get the backstory for what is going on. When Simón goes missing, the effect on the Laura and Carlos is heavy. Their hope dwindles as time moves on, and to see the way they handle it is really sad. I think the story is woven so well, because there is a psychological and emotional aspect to this and it is handled deftly throughout. You really get caught up in the story and their suffering, as well as the mystery.

The performances from Belén Rueda and Fernando Cayo are truly good, as they are the ones that sell the story to you throughout. The Orphanage is a creepy film – it does not go big for jump scares, but a subtle chill that creeps in, which is awesome. Jump scares are overrated, and I always prefer a movie that works more with the atmosphere and the psychology. This one definitely goes for more of a look at the parents, specifically the mom, and how she is dealing with it. I wish they had explored a little more how it was for her to be back at the orphanage she grew up in. 

So we have covered the performances and the pacing, which leaves us with how the movie looks and sounds, and I think both work wonderfully to weave that dark, mysterious, magical feel of it. It all works together to create a fantastic atmosphere. I  didn’t expect it to have as much of an emotional core as it did, but I really think it takes The Orphanage from being a generic mystery/horror to having a little dramatic spine which elevates the whole experience.

The Orphanage is such a good movie and it has so much going for it. I was mesmerised from the off and enchanted throughout. It is a magical, mystical, dark, creepy film, and well worth checking out!

Review: Logan (2017)

9

“Nature made me a freak. Man made me a weapon. And God made it last too long.”
– Logan

SYNOPSIS: In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant arrives, pursued by dark forces. – via IMDB

Finally! Got out to see Logan, something I have been looking forward to, but also slightly wary of after The Wolverine, which I absolutely detested. I was hoping that this would be the movie we have all been waiting for for the Wolverine, and let me tell you, it totally is! Hugh Jackman returns as our favourite animalistic antihero, and man, he was just perfect again. As always.

Logan definitely touts a darker, more grown up story, and is so much more human than I expected. This movie isn’t about let’s save the day and take down the bad guys. No, this one looks more at Logan, his relationship with Professor X, and how he is getting on in life, yet is still angry and bitter about many things. Ever the antihero, I suppose. Logan has feeling, and this is evident every step of the way. There is some humour tossed in, nice and dark, but for the most part this is quite an intense drama, and the Wolverine movie we have been waiting for for years.

The effects were really good, and the movie was shot well. You were engaged from the off by both the story as well as the way it all came together, and the movie touts some excellent choreography, which we always wish to see when the Wolverine is out there. The cast is good, too, and I was particularly impressed with Boyd Holbrook, an actor I am familiar with from Narcos. While he was good in that show, he absolutely shone here, and I found myself  incredibly surprised. Also, big fan of his fancy arm.

Logan is heavy, dark, emotional, and just what the doctor ordered. It is a solid outing that will linger for some time after, and definitely cuts to the bone. Longtime fans will be particularly thrilled with how it all comes together.

Review: Don’t Breathe (2016)

7

dont-breathe-movie-poster

“There is nothing a man cannot do once he accepts the fact that there is no god.”
– The Blind Man

SYNOPSIS: Hoping to walk away with a massive fortune, a trio of thieves break into the house of a blind man who isn’t as helpless as he seems. – via IMDB

dont-breathe-blind-man

GRADE 8So there was quite a bit of hype surrounding this one. I missed a lot of the hype in my country,  but caught a lot of it online. I decided to give it a look see the other day, and I was pleasantly surprised. As a rule, I am not usually a very big fan of home invasion films. Recently I saw Hush, which was supposed to be excellent because it brought a new spin to the home invasion genre. I liked it okay, but found it quite bland. Don’t Breathe is a different kind of animal.

It has a rather small, limited cast, but this does not detract from the film. Daniel Zovatto might have been the weakest addition to it, but between Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Stephen Lang, you are hooked every minute of it. The movie is shot really well, which is something I am starting to expect from Fede Alvarez. It wasn’t overly dark (the images, goodness knows the story got pretty messed up), which is a major flaw in these types of movies, and even when it was totally in the dark, you could see what was going on the whole time. I also thought that the movie maintained really good tension throughout, which is not an easy thing to pull off.

The story is nothing over the top, and the pacing is excellent. You get what you need, when you need it. Don’t Breathe doesn’t rush to blow its payload, but isn’t so slow as to frustrate you. A simple story, sure, but engaging from the off. And I swear, whatever you are thinking when watching this about the door? It doesn’t come close to the twist the movie actually delivers, which is refreshing. And beyond super ick. While the characters are not all likable, they do grow on you, and it doesn’t even take that long. This is definitely a home invasion with a different pattern going for it, and it works. I was really hooked from the off, and the run time is perfect – it never overstays its welcome.

dont-breathe-movie

However, even with all this praise, there were some niggles with it too, and a lot of that has to do with the decisions the characters make and some of the logic that is applied by the characters. Also, the characters are really underdeveloped, and while that is typical for this type of genre, it becomes a bit of an issue when you are supposed to root for the old man, and then the thieves, and back and forth. It’s cool because, for once, there is not one clear, innocent party to root for, but also sucks because knowing more about the characters could have been helpful. Let’s not forget the faulty alarm, multiple gunshots being fired in a neighbourhood and zero interest from the neighbours, or cops.

Don’t Breathe is a well directed little home invasion thriller that is carried by solid performances, an engaging story, and the sheer simplicity of this. I would highly recommend this one, and I can see now why it has so many fans.

I would say skip the trailer and just go in blind (har har), much better experience.

Rapid Review: Hunt For The Wilderpeople (2016)

9

hunt-for-the-wilderpeople-poster-6

“Uncle, you’re basically a criminal now. But on the bright side, you’re famous.”
– Ricky Baker

SYNOPSIS: A national manhunt is ordered for a rebellious kid and his foster uncle who go missing in the wild New Zealand bush. – via IMDB

hunt-for-the-wilderpeople-dnace

GRADE 8Alright, so obviously I was excited to check this out because I adored What We Do In The Shadows, and still laugh every time I watch it. This was not disappointing, although it is a totally different type of film. This one is more good, clean, family fun (well, mostly clean), and it has this really cringy, awkward humour to it that I thoroughly enjoyed – so dry. Plus it had Sam Neill, and I quite enjoy him. Anyway, the movie starts off painfully awkward, and after a while it catches its flow, and it gets on a roll and it is enjoyable. I felt that there were times where the pacing was a little off, but that was no big issue. The score was totally suiting, and I loved watching Sam Neill and Julian Dennison together; they really were the biggest sellers here. That relationship man! The story is nothing groundbreaking (two characters dislike each other, slowly form respect, then they are tight), but it is handled exceptionally well, and the film is engaging throughout. There is a particularly enjoyable scene explaining why Jesus is a tricky fellow, as well as the certainty that “shit just got real”. Ricky incessantly calling Hec “Uncle” was also dead amusing for me, and Rachel House’s Paula was a right piece of work, and yet entertaining. I feel that the movie had a solid story and a dramatic element that was flawlessly woven throughout, never coming across as forced, but giving the comedy some bite, too. A lighthearted, fun film that has moments of majestical heart, The Hunt For The Wilderpeople is definitely worth a watch.

Downton Abbey: Season 1 (2010)

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donwton abbey series 1

*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

What I liked:

  • The costume design. It was sumptuous, stunning, suiting and perfect. I was very impressed.
  • Maggie Smith. There is no way that you can watch this show and not absolutely love Cousin Violet and her antics. She is so strongly opinionated, but technically has a heart of gold under that prickly facade.

downton abbey cousin violet what is a weekend

  • The cast is wonderful. I think they all bring something of worth to the table. Jim Carter as Charles Carson is great, Brandan Coyle as John Bates is just perfect, I love him, and I think he and Joanne Froggart as Anna Smith work wonders together. Siobhan Finneran’s Mrs Sarah O’Brien and Rob James-Collier’s Thomas Barrow are such wily snakes. They really get under my skin.
  • Dan Stevens. Because holy wowzers, he is freaking adorable and such a gentleman and a heart-stealer. Argh! Besides the fact that he plays Matthew Crawley so well, Matthew’s character itself is just so… perfect. Definitely not cut from the same cloth as his infinitely richer counterparts, he is a hard worker, smart, loyal, good looking and so down to Earth.
  • Lady Mary Crawley’s character growth. It really took me from totally hating her to just being irritable with her at the best of times. I no longer wanted to shoot her though.
  • The courtship between Lady Mary Crawley and Matthew. I mean, I am a little phased by the whole cousin thing, but at the end of it, and despite the fact that she was introduced as a super bitch and remains quite so throughout, her character grows quite a bit, and I found myself rooting for them to finally get over their issues and get together.
  • Watching Cousin Violet and Cousin Isobel together is worth every second of screen time. They just have no time or patience for one another, but go about it in such different way. Plus, how competitive are these two?
  • Sybil Crawley. Jessica Brown-Findlay captured her wonderfully, and this character is simply a favourite of mine. The way she helped Rose Leslie’s Gwen to find work, and how she is so free spirited and happy and pro-feminism is just great, and I am quite a fan of it. She is so independent, and I love the banter between her and Allen Leech’s chauffeur Tom Branson. He compliments her because he is also so different and political and he encourages her, but he looks out for her.
  • How the divide between the rich and the poor and the working class is illustrated here. The servants work themselves to the bone, and the rich don’t necessarily realise all the work that gets done, the effects it has, and how much they differ from the help. For instance, Mary is quite dismissive about positions within the house, though she becomes rather embarrassed when she realises how important they are to other people (looking here specifically at what went down with William when he was looking after the horse).
  • The humour. It is very sharp and very dry, I love it!

downton abbey season 1 branson and sybil

What I didn’t like:

  • I am not necessarily a fan of the way that time jumps, and months/years have passed, but the n arrative continues as though there has been no time lapse.
  • The relationship between Edith and Mary. I know it is there for the dramatic side of things and all that, but sheesh, how bitchy can you get with your sibling?!
  • The whole legal predicament – it is explained, but not as nicely and as smoothly as I would have liked, meaning I get the gist of it, but not too much the technicalities of it.
  • How totally self-centred Mary is, and how she spends far too much time listening to outside influences.
  • Thomas and Mrs O’Brien – two snakes if ever I saw them!

downton abbey season 1 mary and carson

Rating:
GRADE 8.5I watched this once up until season three, then fell out with it, and decided a few months back to rewatch this and actually finish it this time around. I was particularly in the mood for something British. Naturally this ticked all the boxes, and I popped it in.

I was drawn in from the very first episode, no kidding. I love a good drama, and for a period setting and story, this was lovely. There were laughs, there were hard times, there were great relationships, there was some insane scheming, and there was character growth.

Typical of a show/book with such a massive array of characters, I was worried that I would forget them all, or not know how they all fit in. This is a normal fear when bombarded with so many people, especially seeing as how they were all introduced in the first episode basically. Getting to know Downton was a wonderful experience, and I am a big fan of the cast. Maggie Smith is a scene-stealer, of course, and her character of Cousin Violet is just immensely wonderful. She is so underhanded, so wealthy, so out of touch with how the rest of the world works, you cannot help but laugh at her. I particularly enjoyed her quip about weekends, and the competition/rivalry between her and Isobel is so worth watching. It is hilarious, and everyone is aware of it, some humour it, mostly because getting awkward doesn’t help. They are both immensely strong willed women. I also like how she is not as cold as you think, and sometimes she does particularly sweet things, but she does’t like to draw too much attention to it (such as when she relented and allowed Bill Molesley to win the flower fair).

downton-abbey-season-1-gwen-gets-her-job

Then there is Matthew Crawley. I cannot lie and say I did not fall deeply in love with his character. He was more in tune with reality, solidly middle class, not dismissive like the rest of the Crawley clan, smart as a whip and simply gorgeous. He was just… different, and I liked that. Not to mention that I think Dan Stevens is absolutely super hot, and he was adorable here (just look at his relationship with Molesley after he realises how the food chain works). Jessica Brown-Findlay was another actress I was very happy to see. I think she is beautiful, and her character of Sybil is wonderful – strong-willed, cheeky, a feminist to the core, and helpful. She is also more genuine than the rest of the family seems to be, such a free spirit. I must admit, I loved watching her be all rebellious, and thought that her and Tom Branson were so sweet together.

Bates was another character I deeply admired. He was loyal and genuine and such an honest man, and he would not shift blame. When he started he was treated so badly, and it actually hurt to watch, but eventually commanded the respect of just about everyone, and that was great. Also, I liked how he had served with Lord Robert Crawley in the war, and everyone treats him terribly and dismissively and he was actually friends with Robert, and it changes things when the rest of the servants realise this. He doesn’t use connections/relations with people to get ahead, however, and will never take anyone down with him maliciously, no matter what. Thomas and Mrs O’Brien irritated me, they were such forces of evil! T

he distinct portrayal of how times are different and cultural mores and norms that have differed is something I thoroughly enjoy watching, too. Wow, there is so much going on in this show actually that I am not sure how to address it all. I don’t want to leave anything out, but there is just too much that is right with this! Obviously this means that if you have not yet watched this, you should rectify that immediately. 

downton abbey put that in your pipe and smoke it

February Blind Spot Review: Moon (2009)

16

moon poster

“Gerty, is there someone else in the room?”
– Sam Bell

SYNOPSIS: Astronaut Sam Bell has a quintessentially personal encounter toward the end of his three-year stint on the Moon, where he, working alongside his computer, GERTY, sends back to Earth parcels of a resource that has helped diminish our planet’s power problems. – via IMDB

moon sam bell

GRADE 8.5So I decided to check out Moon this month because I have very little time on my hands, the movie didn’t have a long run time, and I am so involved with the whole X-Files thing at the moment that space just ticked my boxes. Space and conspiracy, and I got both, which was highly unexpected. Sam Rockwell, right off the bat, deserves all the praise heaped upon him for his performance as Sam Bell. I mean wow. I went into this movie as blind as I could, and thought I was seeing a movie about a man who was losing the plot, having fallen out of touch with reality after almost three years in isolation on the moon. Instead, I got this great story that you are constantly wondering about – what is real, what is in his mind, what is going on? It is not as straightforward and simple as you would initially think. Rockwell carried the majority of the movie MINOR SPOILER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THIS and I was quite a fan of the way that he portrayed two Sams, both who had things in common, and yet on the other hand were so completely different that you could tell on sight which Sam we were dealing with. Not only that, but the fact that he managed to make both Sams work together is another thing, too, that was impressive. Kevin Spacey voicing Gerty was fantastic. His voice made Gerty creepy (because seriously, who the heck is this robot?!) and soothing and calming all at once, so Gerty’s character successfully keeps you on edge, and you never really know how you should feel about the robot. Considering all that is done with a voice alone and then the emoticons displayed on Gerty’s screen, credit is due. Moon looks beautiful and is shot well, and has a score that complements the movie every step of the way, making it an experience, but never taking over or missing a beat. I really, really enjoyed this movie and I think that it was crafted well. The pacing was great and the story moved along, never losing you along the way, but never getting bland, either. When the movie brought the heart to the game, it did so with finesse. Moon is a thought provoking affair, no doubt, and while a small, simple film on the surface, it is merely the tip of the iceberg at the end of the day, there is so much more to this. Also, the miniscule touches of humour thrown in at times were so well implemented that they never felt forced or out of place in such a dramatic movie. Wow, this is actually a lot to say about a movie you can’t really say anything about in fear of spoiling too much. Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed Moon and would highly recommend it if you have not yet seen it, it’s truly a solid sci-fi drama.