“The Man in the High Castle” T.V. Show Review

It’s essentially Game of Thrones in 1962 with Nazis and Kempeitai soldiers. That’s all you need to know. This dystopian alternate history television series aired all of it’s episodes exclusively on Amazon Prime on November 10th, 2015. So far, it’s the most watched and streamed Amazon original in the network’s history. Based on the alternate history novel of the same name by science fiction master, Philip K. Dick, the show actually diverges from it’s source material in many different aspects. It’s okay, because the show’s still highly entertaining. Set in a world where the Nazi Reich won World War II, we follow a variety of characters as they fight to survive and maintain peace between Japan and Germany, who’ve established puppet states in the land of America. We see the many different infrastructures through the eyes of a Trade Minister, a Japanese Chief inspector, an American Nazi, an antique factory worker, a spy, and a number of officers from the Resistance and the German Reich. They all get tangled in a web of lies and death in a bid for a collection of films which present numerous different interpretations of World War II, including one where the United States defeated the Axis powers. Each character wants the films for his or her own reasons, but ultimately, all of these films are supplied to a mysterious figure known as the Man in the High Castle. I really liked the details of how this timeline diverged from actual history. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin were both assassinated in the mid to late 1940s. The Nazis managed to get a hold of the nuclear bomb first and destroyed Washington D.C., though it’s instead referred to as the Heisenberg Device. There are a lot of questions and details I want to discuss more of, but I will save that for my spoiler discussions. Basically, even though The Fuhrer Adolf Hitler is mentioned multiple times during the first season, he doesn’t really appear until the final episode. Some regard him as an almighty king, others think of him to be an obsolete mad man and murderer. The cinematography and editing are both very sharp, giving perfect angles and cutaways to so many tense scenes. It makes the setting feel like it’s a very fleshed out and alive United States that has become dominated by the ideals of supremacy, fascism, and Nazism. And the performances in the show are all great. The entire ensemble is fantastic. If I had to single out just a few, Alexa Davalos as Juliana Crain and Luke Klientank as Joe Blake hit it right off the bat as two strangers from opposite coasts who meet in the Neutral Zone. Joe Blake has a particularly surprising role revealed early on in the show, yet still remains relatable. Rupert Evans as Frank Frink acted like his character: a broken, conflicted man. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa played an ambiguous, calculating, and tragic Trade Minister of the Japanese States. Finally, the stand out of the series goes to Rufus Sewell as Obergruppenführer John Smith, as a protective American family man who maintains fierce loyalty to Hitler’s Reich. The pacing of Man in the High Castle is nice and smooth… then there’s the end. The final episode of the first season is one of those episodes where the WTF nature is turned way up, and is borderline weird. As stated previously, I will go further in depth when I publish my spoiler discussion on the show. Despite that one rather large bump, The Man in the High Castle is one of the best new shows to watch on streaming services. It tells a fascinating story set in a bleak world teaming with interesting characters. It’s worth giving Amazon Prime a Free Trial.

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