Sword fights, intrigue, superpowers, and opium. These are the cornerstones of Into the Badlands, the new and intriguing dystopian martial arts drama on AMC, which is very loosely based on the classic Chinese tale Journey to the West. For a network that has produced such hit shows as Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Walking Dead, a foray into the martial arts genre is an interesting choice. Into the Badlands is a story of a man and his charge journeying, against all odds, in search of both escape from their pasts and enlightenment into the true nature of what surrounds them. And that is a tale I very much want to watch unfold in this grim, ruthless expanse of a possible future.
The stress, the urgency, the ingenuity, the sense of wonder. Ridley Scott’s The Martian masters them all. While most space movies rely on sensationalized drama and special effects, this one is different. Don’t get me wrong, the special effects are stunning and the drama is engaging, but neither rules. The scientists are real, NASA seems simultaneously human and political, and the zany solutions and discussions at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) all read as if from the history books of space programs. The Martian is a very human story that is surprisingly feasible and realistic, leaving you mesmerized while watching and for a good while after.