For All Mankind: Season 4

STREAMING REVIEW:

Apple TV+;
Sci-Fi;
Not rated.
Stars Joel Kinnaman, Krys Marshall, Coral Peña, Cynthy Wu, Edi Gathegi, Toby Kebbell, Tyner Rushing, Daniel Stern, Svetlana Efremova, Wrenn Schmidt.

One fascinating aspect of the alternate history series “For All Mankind” is tracking how much more the show delves into its science-fiction elements as the stories move further away from the fictional timeline’s divergence from our own reality.

The original “what if” premise of the series was to explore what would have happened with the American space program had the Soviet Union somehow won the race to land on the moon. The first season, taking place primarily in the early 1970s, pushed forward an answer that we simply would have raised the stakes of the Space Race, to not just land on the moon, but establish permanent bases there. The result was a sort of “Mad Men” in space that featured a mixture of fictional characters and real historical figures, while providing subtle social commentary by using the speculated changes in world events and political attitudes to shine a light back upon our own reality. The depiction of technology wasn’t too far astray from what actually existed at the time.

Season two, set in the early 1980s, and season three, set in the mid 1990s, continued to put this formula to excellent dramatic effect. Season two transferred escalating Cold War tensions to each side expanding their presence on the lunar surface, leading into season three’s race to be the first to land on Mars. In the show’s timeline, advancements in space sped up technological innovation by years if not decades, while ship and space station designs reflected ideas that in our reality never made it past the drawing board due to funding cuts.

But with its space hotels and Martian landers, the “For All Mankind” reality began to resemble what sci-fi movies and TV shows from 50 years ago such as 2001: A Space Odyssey had imagined the future would look like.

Season four thus gives the show a chance to pay off not only three seasons’ worth of story and character development, but 30 years of in-universe historical advancement. Set in 2003, the season finds the various spacefaring nations of the world and the mega-corporation Helios involved in a cooperative effort to manage Happy Valley, the first human settlement on Mars. The discovery of a mineral-rich asteroid passing through the solar system spawns an objective to attempt to capture it, but the intricacies of planning the mission expose years of dormant tensions between numerous factions on both planets.

Culture on Mars has developed a social hierarchy separating the administrators and the labor force, giving the season something of a Metropolis vibe.

The strength of the show’s writing is how it presents a situation, and then throws its established characters into the room to bounce off each other to see how the plot finds a resolution. It makes for compelling drama that pays off in a number of unexpected ways.

The season finale, which becomes available Jan. 12, provides not only a satisfying capper to the first four seasons of the show, but sets up exciting possibilities for the series should it continue into season five and beyond.

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Lionsgate Planning ‘Hurricane Heist’ for Home Release

Lionsgate will release the action movie The Hurricane Heist digitally May 29, and on Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray June 5.

The Hurricane Heist tells the story of a group of criminals trying to steal $600 million from a U.S. Mint facility and escape using a category five hurricane as cover, with only a treasury agent and a storm chaser in a position to stop them.

Directed by Rob Cohen (The Fast and the Furious), the film stars Toby Kebbell (Kong: Skull Island), Maggie Grace (Taken, “Lost”) and Ryan Kwanten (“True Blood”).

Bonus materials include deleted scenes, a VFX reel, commentary with Cohen, and the featurettes “The Eye of the Storm” and “Hollywood Heist: A Conversation with Rob Cohen.”

The 4K and Blu-ray versions will include Dolby Atmos audio.