Published on January 12th, 2021 | by Rob Mammone
The Expanse Season 1 – 3 Blu-Ray Review
Summary: Politics and adventure work side by side as The Expanse unfurls on your screens in a high quality blu-ray release that will be sure to keep you binging long into the night!
Based on the books of James A. Coorey, The Expanse is a grand space opera in the old tradition, updated with hard edged politics and intrigue, across the vast sweep of our solar system.
It doesn’t hurt to have read the books to appreciate these three seasons, though it doesn’t hurt. Indeed, it may help deepen your appreciation of what the producers have accomplished, converting several extremely fat volumes into an action packed, intricate and intriguing adaptation that sets the bar for television science fiction. If only current day Doctor Who could take the hint…
With humanity having leap frogged throughout the solar system, power bases have built up in different regions, leading to a corresponding rise in tensions and a solar Cold War. Old Earth is controlled by the UN, and works to ensure it controls the far flung human colonies. Mars is an independent power, eager to be seen as such and fiercely proud of its independence. All the planets rely on the Asteroid Belt’s resources, which provide precious water and oxygen to worlds that precious little of either. It is a heady mix of raw politics and fast and furious fighting in the endless night between the planets.
As with all the best stories, The Expanse starts small and then expands. Thomas Jane (The Punisher, The Mist) plays detective Josephus Miller, who is tasked with finding Julie Mao, whose father, Jules-Pierre, is a fabulously wealthy and powerful ship builder. Along the way, Miller falls in with the crew of the Rocinante, who escape death when ships built by Jules-Pierre destroy their former craft. Working together, they discover an entity dubbed the protomolecule, which threatens all of humanity.
Season Two expands the scope of the series further, taking the crew of the Rocinante to Venus, as the various forces seek to control the protomolecule, against the backdrop of more sabre rattling between Earth and Mars. The solar Cold War begins to hot up, as Earth and Martian forces fight in orbit over Ganymede, leading to the devastation of the colony. But the protomolecule’s threat is ever present, and threatens to grow worse by season’s end.
Season Three sees war finally break out between Earth and Mars, while the protomolecule establishes itself around Uranus. Factions vie for control on both sides, as the war heats up and civilians bear the brunt of the fighting. And a startling discovery is made that will change the way humanity looks at the stars forever…
So, is it any good. The short answer is yes, and the slightly longer answer is, yes, very. It’s up their with Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica (the reboot, of course) in terms of action and political intrigue. There’s the grand themes of humanity reaching for the stars, intermingled with the low cunning of politicians on all sides maneuvering for power and advantage. Thomas Jane is, as ever, an appealing lead character, with his private detective shtick oddly out of sorts for the setting, but his doggedness is unmistakable. There is a larger cast, so that may take some getting used to, but there is a wide, diverse range out actors on screen, which demonstrates the more cosmopolitan, polyglot future on offer for humanity.
In terms of what you see on the screen, the special effects, particularly in space, are quite good. Some of the scenes you’ll see of living spaces either in orbit or on an asteroid definitely feel like they’ve been rendered on a computer. But overall, the visuals are pretty arresting, showing the vastness of space on the one hand, and the claustrophobia of a spaceship, satellite, or underground lunar complex.
Overall, these three seasons are top notch science fiction fare. The acting is pretty good, while the plot has its convoluted aspects, but if you stick with it, the disparate elements all begin to cohere during each season. There is pulse pounding action in the vacuum of space, and you get to feel sick and outraged at the political machinations on show as Earth, Mars and the asteroid belters begin to maneuver for advantage as a war comes to the Solar System. Great stuff!
There’s also a medley of special features, including deleted scenes, commentaries, season previews and a number featurettes!
Actors: Thomas Jane, Steven Strait
Film Genre: TV Sci-Fi
Label: Via Vision
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Region Coding: B
TV Standard: HD
Consumer Advice: Strong themes, coarse language, violence and sex scenes
Year of Release: 2015