Earlier this week, the Hollywood Theatre screened Mad Max Fury Road: Black & Chrome, George Miller’s black-and-white version of his perfect film. With its lurid oranges and teals swapped out for high-contrast blacks and whites, Black & Chrome leans toward Cormac McCarthy—a little less Fury Road and a little more The Road, it somehow feels even more exhilarating, urgent, and allegorical than Miller’s original theatrical version. Not for nothing did an audience member shout “TRUMP!” when Immortan Joe first heaved into frame.
Fury Road’s been in my head a lot the past week or two, sharing space with 2006’s Children of Men, Alfonso Cuarón’s weary portrait of the final days of a wheezing empire, where brute force is policy and refugees are corralled in pens.
As 2017 shudders on, we may find that science fiction is our only relevant genre.
The second season of The Expanse, Syfy’s adaptation of James S.A. Corey’s sprawling book series, premieres on February 1—and if it’s anything like the first season, it’ll be pretty remarkable. Mashing up Game of Thrones’ political schemes, the hard-edged and worn-out future of Battlestar Galactica, and a shot or two of Lovecraftian doom, The Expanse manages to be quick-footed and clever as it tracks its far-flung, wide-ranging characters amid political and social chaos. Earth strains under the weight of overpopulation and melted ice caps. Mars’ militant settlers grow increasingly aggressive. The blue-collar peons of the asteroid belt foment revolution. Stretching between them is space’s lethal vacuum, where even those who manage to survive find their bodies warped by lessened gravity.
Which, I know, sounds grim. But The Expanse has some fantastic characters—particularly the brutally canny politician Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), who uses her cold eyes and sharp words to try to slow, for a few days longer, the decline of Earth—and some jarringly beautiful visions of bright spots in a dark universe. The Expanse is about what it means to survive in the future. Maybe it can offer us a few tips.