Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Future noir: ‘Minority Report’, the series review

Steven Spielberg’s 2002 cinematic adaption of the Phillip K. Dick story “Minority Report” is arguably one of the great science fiction films of the past twenty years—and also one of the most prophetic. But transitioning such a complex and effects heavy concept to television would seem to be a Herculean task. But the producers at FOX and Amblin Entertainment, (including Spielberg himself) have found a way to mold the science fiction noir into a sleek, entertaining show.

The producers wisely chose to make this series a true sequel to the 2002 film. So rather than having the thankless task of replacing a megastar like Tom Cruise, the series begins ten years later and focuses on the precogs themselves—the three gifted psychic mutants who were held against their will and exploited by the Metro PD and the government to “solve” murders before they happened.

The series opens up ten years after the events in the movie and someone in the Federal government finally figured out maybe it was not such a great idea to arrest and convict people,(and sentence them to lifelong mental torture prisons), for crimes they did not actually commit. So with the pre-crime program closed, the precogs consisting of two twin brothers, and an older (and far more powerful) sister, were free to live normal lives outside of prying eyes of this futuristic quasi-police state.

Although they stay in touch, the three precog siblings have all chosen very different post Pre-crime lifestyles. The handsome Arthur (played by studly Nick Zano) whose gifts allow him to see names and numbers, is cashing in on his talents as a high stakes financier (a.k.a con man). The enigmatic and ethereal true leader of the three siblings, Agatha (played by the beautiful Laura Regan) still lives on the undisclosed pastoral island where they were originally set up at the end of the film.

The series focuses on the third precog, Dash, (played by Stark Sands) a tortured soul who suffers from unannounced convulsions where he is forced to live through the disturbing imagery of a murder that has yet to happen—but will—unless he finds a way to prevent it.

Dash decides he cannot stand by and just let these murders happen and joins forces with a renegade police detective who is equally frustrated by her inability to stop murder before they happen. In order to extract the imagery from Dash’s brain—in a painful procedure—they seek the help of the precog technician from the Precrime days—Daniel London as Wally the Caretaker—a great supporting character played by the same actor from the film.

Dash’s partner Detective Lara Vega is played with a no nonsense, the end justifies the means, bad ass vibe by Meagan Good. I love the fact that producers have done a twist on the old film noir formula. Here, a female plays the hard-boiled cynical lead character, and the gorgeous, charismatic Meagan Good is more than up to the task. 

Much has been made by mainstream critics about her body hugging, cleavage-revealing uniform. But I love it—and not just because of THAT reason. Because it fits the character. Why should she be dressed in a potato sack? She has a voluptuous body and to hide it would be weak for the character—not to mention the writers and costume designer. Lara is anything but meek! Think of Starbuck from BSG (the 2000s SyFy remake).

To add to the tension, Lara has to keep Dash’s true identity and the nature of their partnership a secret from her prying ex-boyfriend control freak boss. Not only is what they are doing illegal—there are dark forces at work both in and out of the government who would capture and exploit Dash and his siblings if given the chance. In episode three, “Hawk-Eye”, Agatha has that very vision, a disturbing future where she and her siblings are once again held captive by the government in a milk pool and exploited for political gain.

Technically, “Minority Report” gets top marks across the board. The producers have opted for a more color saturated look than the stark, expressionistic tones of the movie—and it works great.  As mentioned above, the costumes are awesome. The sets are detailed and convincing, and the parade of super cool visual effects is beyond impressive—all of it very creatively done. 

“Minority Report” also has an outstanding musical score courtesy of Sean Callery of “24" and “Homeland” fame. John William’s fans such as myself really appreciates his homage to “Spiders” in the pilot.

Bottom line: ***1/2 (out of four)

Visually stunning, with a great concept, a strong lead, and solid supporting cast—“Minority Report” has the potential to become a great science fiction series. Let us hope FOX starts promoting it more and gives it a chance to succeed and develop.

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