The Expanse: Rock Bottom – Death Times Three (Recap/Review)

In The Expanse, Rock Bottom death strikes three times during the episode

The Expanse - Season 1

In The Expanse, Rock Bottom death strikes three times during the episode. At least one character came dangerously close to becoming a fourth fatality, when  Det. Miller is almost taken out by tow of Anderson Dawes’ people. The Belter cop is saved at the last minute by Octavia Muss, who shoots the couple who were trying to snuff out the Ceres detective. Later in the episode, an asteroid miner becomes casualty number three when he challenges the MCRN.

The UN Security Council officer  Christen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) pushes to get the Tycho spy to look closely at Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman).  On Tycho, Holden and Amos stand off the Colonel while Naomi and Alex set up an offer that Johnson cannot refuse. 

Miller is questioned by Dawes after his people kidnap him and Anderson reveals that Filat Kothari was let go when the cop expressed no interest in getting the man who nailed his partner to a wall.   As Dawes interrogates Miller, Lida and Kaipo, the two who took the cop,  tase the detective and in the end, the information that the detective found in Mao’s apartment is not not discovered by the OPA rep.

Anderson (Jared Harris)  tells Miller (Thomas Jane) the real story of what happened to his sister Athena; he murdered the girl when her sickness got worse and could not be treated.  After relaying this information, Dawes tells Miller that it is possible to cry so hard that tears can turn to blood.

Dawes then sentences the cop to death.

Lida and Kaipo shove the detective into an exit shaft, but before Miller can die, Octavia shoots the two and rescues her colleague. The asteroid miner shoves his nephew out of his ship and flies a suicide mission to prove a point. This is death number three.

Miller shows Muss the information he discovered in Mao’s apartment. The recovered drive shows that the scientists on Phoebe Station discovered something alien, powerful and worth killing for, or in their case, dying for.  The detective shows the information to his boss, Captain Shaddid (Lola Glaudini).

Once the captain learns of what Miller has uncovered, she asks whether there were any copies made of the drive he found and puts it into her safe. She then eradicates the detective’s files and fires him. Miller realizes that Dawes has “bought” the Captain. She has the former detective  escorted out of the station and threatens to have Miller shot if he refuses.

The Expanse - Season 1
Miller fired by Captain Shaddid

Back at Tycho, the Butcher of Anderson Station makes a deal with Holden and his small crew of survivors. They agree to get someone for Johnson and he will help them in return.  Although it does look like someone else is keeping an eye on the small band of Cant refugees.  As Naomi and Holden have a few drinks, someone is recording their activities.

More backstory is revealed about Alex (Cas Anvar) and Amos (Wes Chatham) and the crew find out that the earther Holden logged the distress call on the Cant and Amos is annoyed to find the Naomi knew this. 

By the end of this episode of The Expanse, the survivors take their renamed ship (the Martian Corvette) out of Tycho dry dock and Miller’s future is uncertain.  It is clear though that Fred Johnson is an enigmatic character that both the UN and the crew of the Rocinante  are right to doubt his motives.

The Expanse - Season 1
Chad L. Coleman as Colonel Frederick Lucius Johnson

The Expanse airs Tuesdays on SyFy, tune in and watch this mystery/thriller and see where Miller and the Cant survivors head next.

 

The Expanse: Back to the Butcher (Recap/Review)

In the Expanse: Back to the Butcher, the only person not upset at the attempted murder of Havelock is his partner Miller.

The Expanse - Season 1

In the Expanse: Back to the Butcher, the only person not upset at the attempted murder of Havelock is his partner Miller.  The five survivors from the Donnager vote on whether to take Fred Johnson’s offer of help while Det. Miller continues his obsessive hunt to learn more about Julie Mao’s disappearance.

Anderson Dawes offers up the man who skewered Havelock to a wall  as an offering to Miller. This is an attempt to forge an allegiance with the Ceres cop and there is also  a history lesson in why Fred Johnson is known as the Butcher of Anderson Station.

As pointed out by IGN this episode was a real change of pace from the previous all action shoot-em-up and explosive episode CQ8.  That is not to say there is no violence, far from it.  The video footage of Havelock (Jay Hernandez) getting “nailed” to the wall is shown, after being uploaded by the perpetrator and  added to that violence the destruction of  Anderson Station is shown. 

Sidenote: One of the more beautiful/horrible images is that of the lead miner; Marama Brown (played by Billy MacLellan  who played Lt. Bebe in “Defiance”) clutching his little girl while their dead bodies float through space;  past the UN Marine ship.

Miller (Thomas Jane)  is under a bit of stress. A scene in the Ceres version of a subway where the power stops momentarily shows how paranoid he is becoming about the issues on The Belt.  Another character in the show comes under stress of a different sort when Earther  survivor from the Cant and Donnager, Jim Holden (Steven Strait),  learns he  has become the poster-child  for revolt after his pronouncement that Mars blew up his ship.

Meanwhile back on Ceres, despite being almost literally handed the man who skewered his partner to a wall, Miller appears to destroy the information given  to him by Dawes (Jared Harris) before going in to learn more about where Julie Mao was really headed.

Once the detective finds what he is looking for he leaves and is abducted by a man and woman team who bag his head and tase him.

This episode moves things along nicely and allows a bit of backstory to show just why Nagata (Dominique Tipper) distrusts Colonel Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) so much.  After learning the fate of the striking miners and their children, the viewer feels much the same as Naomi.  This does not stop Nagata from being talked into heading to Tycho and Johnson by Amos (Wes Chatham) later.

The Expanse with ‘Back to the Butcher’ also shows the further deepening of Miller’s obsession with Mao, up to his asking his source whether the man had been sleeping with her, and it is apparent it has nothing to do with money.  Octavia Muss (Athena Karkanis) suggests that this is the reason Joe is not avenging her partner’s near death, but she is way off the mark. 

Several things are obvious by the time the end credits roll. Miller is in trouble, Nagata is disturbed by her decision to let Johnson help, Holden gets his coffee and the viewer learns that life is very cheap on The Belt and 11 years ago the UN Marines, in the guise of Col. Johnson,  thought so too.

The Expanse airs Tuesdays on SyFy. Tune in to see why this series has already been approved for a second season.

The Boxtrolls: American Attempt at British Humor (Review/Trailer)

The Boxtrolls: American Attempt at British Humor (Review/Trailer)

Going in to see The Boxtrolls, it is quite easy to get excited about the pedigree brought to the film by certain performers who are voicing main characters, but the film does not work, it is an American attempt at British Humor that just does not make it. The film loses its way very quickly at the beginning and never recovers from its directionless meandering. At the start of the movie screening attended by this reviewer a number of the audience were laughing or chuckling at events on screen. However, after the initial 15 minutes of the film’s open passed, the amusement dried up and younger members of the audience lost interest in whatever was happening in the stop-motion film.

Pompeii 3D Ashes to Ashes on February 21 (Review & Trailer)

Pompeii 3D Ashes to Ashes on February 21 (Review & Trailer)

Paul W.S. Anderson has taken a break from the Resident Evil franchise to dabble in one of the world’s most cataclysmic event in history; Pompeii 3D, released in 2014 and spewing ashes to ashes on February 21. The feature is being shown in IMAX with the added bonus of “real” 3D. It is debatable whether or not this manner of distribution is really necessary. After all, everyone knows what happened to Pompeii in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius finally quit messing around and blew its top spectacularly. You can see the trailer for the film at the end of this review although it could be seen as a huge spoiler.

The Ward (2010) Deja Vue All Over Again

I was really excited to see that John Carpenter had made a new film. This is his first full length feature since he made the mediocre Ghosts of Mars (2001) and by anybodies reckoning nine years is a long time between films. The films release was not well received by critics who generally mauled the film. I imagine John is wondering why he came back.

The films cast is well rounded with actors that have pedigrees to be proud of. Main protagonist Kristen is played by Amber Heard (who made such a big splash in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane ) and her psychiatric nemesis, Dr Stringer is played by Jared Harris (who sounds so much like his father Richard that it is almost disturbing).  The rest of the cast includes Lyndsy Fonseca fresh form the brilliant Kick Ass, Mamie GummerDanielle PanabakerLaura-LeighMika Boorem all actors with a list of credits as long as your arm.

The “Readers Digest” version of the plot is as follows:

A Girl is hiding   in the woods wearing a slip and house slippers. A police car is in the area answering a call. The girl runs from the police and sets a house on fire. The police catch her and she is put into an insane asylum.  We find out her name is Kristen and she  is placed in a room that the previous occupant vanished from. Her first night in the room something steals her blanket while she is sleeping and she finds a broken bracelet that spells the name Alice. The next day she meets the other five  occupants of the mental ward. What follows is a series of scenes where Kristen bonds with her ward-mates, interacts with Dr Stringer and repeatedly tries to escape.

Several short scenes show a pre-pubescent girl in chains who is about to be sexually abused by a large bearded man. intermixed with all this is the appearance of a gruesome looking wraith who is dispatching the ward occupants in very nasty ways. We also find out that Dr Stringer is using some sort of ‘new’ treatment on the girls in the ward. The wraith we find out is a previous girl from the ward that no one will talk about initially. The girls finally reveal that her name is Alice and they all killed her, because she was mean. With the dead Alice busily wreaking revenge on her killers, the six occupants of the ward have now been whittled down to just Kristen and Zoey and together they make one last bid for freedom.

I enjoyed the film but I could never really get invested in it. It felt more like a mystery thriller than your bog standard horror film. The “plot twist” at the end of the film was good enough, but unfortunately it has been done before. Comparisons to Shutter Island have been made and I can see why but, I felt, however, that the film had more in common with the 2003 film Identity. It is not a stretch to say the film is perhaps a mix of the two.

There were very few ‘jump’ moments in the film. The times I did jump had more to do with the sound being so loud versus the action being so scary. The interaction between Kristen and her ward mates was good, but not terrific by any means. I did like the scenes between Dr Stringer and Kristen. Stringer always made me feel uneasy. As the audience we don’t trust Stringer and question his motives. He comes across as a caring sensitive man one moment only to turn into a figure of apparent cruelty.

The cinematography is good and the FX on the wraith was superb. The hands alone were quite possibly the creepiest thing about the entire film. Over all, I felt the film was missing something. Perhaps it is because this has been ” a horror weekend.” My daughter and I have been glutting ourselves on three horror films and one science fiction film.

In all honesty, all the films have ‘brought something to the table’ but Carpenters film did not quite deliver. I have no idea why he decided to wait nine years before making another film, but, I don’t feel as though the break improved his film making capabilities. It is a shame that the last film he made before his break garnered the same sort of reception that his most recent film has.

The film is worth a look, if for no other reason than to admire the talented cast’s performances. Just don’t expect to be too surprised by the films ‘twist’ ending.

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