Monsters, moon landings, and a mission to space: What I’m watching in January 2024

A new year, a new start, and a new streaming service! As I mentioned in my last blog, I’m switching up my media consumption habits this year, and I’m signing up for just one streaming service at a time so I can really focus in on whatever series I’m currently watching. This month, I decided to try Apple TV+ for the very first time, and I’ve definitely gotten my money out of it so far!

First up was watching Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, a TV series tie-in to the somewhat uneven MonsterVerse (there’s been some fun stuff along the way, like Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla vs. Kong, and also some decidedly so-so content). This new TV series can’t top last year’s amazing Godzilla Minus One from Toho, but it’s still a very enjoyable show. My favorite part is a dual performance by Kurt Russell and his son Wyatt Russell, playing the same character at different ages. Also, it’s always a treat to see Godzilla, even on the small screen. And while (spoiler alert ahead!) Kurt Russell and Wyatt Russell’s character seemingly dies at the end of this season and presumably won’t be returning for future episodes, as we’ve learned time and time again, no popular character is ever truly gone. 

After Monarch, I decided to dive into For All Mankind after hearing several positive recommendations. The show is the perfect marriage of my love for space race history, period dramas, and science fiction. It presents an alternate history of the Apollo moon landings, and this time, it’s the Soviets who reach the moon first, and history progresses in an increasingly different and dramatic direction from that point. It’s cool to see both original characters and real names from history, like Deke Slayton and Buzz Aldrin. 

My favorite part was getting to see female astronauts join the Apollo program, because in real life history, it took until 1983 to send an American woman up into space (the Soviets sent a woman to space in 1963). The special effects on this show are really solid, and you believe you’re watching actual filmed footage from the moon. Because this is an alternate timeline, you don’t know how things are going to turn out, and the stakes always feel high. There are both triumphs and tragedies, and I found myself growing to care deeply about the characters and their personal journeys.  

I heard that later seasons include significant time jumps, and I’ll be curious to see if the show continues to hold my interest as it gets into more contemporary times. I just love retro settings, and I think the show might feel less novel when it portrays “current history,” similar to how The Crown lost some of its shine for me. Still, for right now I’m very excited about season 2 (I’m halfway through).

Finally, even though things have slowed down at the movie theater after the busy holiday season, I did get a chance to watch a new movie called I.S.S., which coincidentally is also about American and Russian astronauts. The premise of the movie is that nuclear war breaks out on the ground while a crew of astronauts are on board the international space station, and their respective governments order their own astronauts to take control. 

Overall, I thought this was a good movie and a decent watch. (Side note: The film utilizes a filming technique where they rock the camera back and forth to simulate the rotating space station and effects of low gravity, and I felt a bit dizzy at first. I did get used to it, but it was a little jarring for a minute or two.)

I wasn’t exactly sure how the story was going to play out, and I liked that they used more nuance than I was anticipating. The film isn’t quite as deep or thought-provoking as the film makers probably wanted it to be, but I do appreciate that they didn’t try to just push out a generic action thriller. I’d say it’s worth a watch when it hits streaming!

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