TV Review: ‘3 Body Problem’

Movies

Liam Cunningham as Wade, Benedict Wong as Da Shi in '3 Body Problem.'

(L to R) Liam Cunningham as Wade, Benedict Wong as Da Shi in ‘3 Body Problem.’ Photo: Ed Miller/Netflix © 2024.

Launching on Netflix with all eight episodes on Thursday March 21st, ‘3 Body Problem’ represents two gigantic challenges all at once: how do the creators of the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV adaptation follow their mammoth fantasy undertaking, and how do they do it using one of the most acclaimed science fiction novel series of recent years?

As it turns out, the answer is: with an abundance of brains and style, putting together a quality cast and fully using the resources offered by Netflix’s deep pockets to bring the novels’ story (or at least the first in the ‘Remembrance of Earth’s Past’ trilogy, which in book form is known as ‘The Three-Body Problem’) to life.

Related Article: TV Review: ‘The Brothers Sun’

Does ‘3 Body Problem’ solve the adaptation challenges?

Eiza González as Auggie Salazar in '3 Body Problem.'

Eiza González as Auggie Salazar in ‘3 Body Problem.’ Photo: Courtesy of Netflix © 2023.

‘3 Body Problem’ is excellent right out of the gate, even more so than ‘Thrones’. It’s audacious, detailed, emotional and sweeping, hooking you with a teasing mystery (at least for those who have not read the books) that slowly and logically unfolds.

A hefty challenge is that a chunk of the narrative revolves around some big physics concepts, but the show smartly explains them in ways that anyone can understand. You won’t feel like you have to have ‘A Brief History of Time’ open on your lap as you watch.

The story weaves its way towards big revelations, but never feels out of reach, grounding its concept in human behavior and satisfying character interactions –– the main group all feel like people you want to spend time with as you take this journey alongside them.

Script and Direction

Jess Hong as Jin Cheng in '3 Body Problem.'

Jess Hong as Jin Cheng in ‘3 Body Problem.’ Photo: Ed Miller/Netflix © 2024.

D. B. Weiss and David Benioff know plenty about adapting sprawling stories with big casts, but here, even more than with ‘Thrones’, they smartly choose to follow a (relatively) small group so as to keep viewers engaged.

So while the story trips through two different time periods and focuses on a few different places across the planet (plus an advanced, immersive video game system that becomes key to the plot), you’re never left wondering who is doing what and why.

Working alongside fellow showrunner Alexander Woo (‘True Blood’), they stay mostly faithful to the book while making necessary changes for the new medium. Thanks to certain moments, they do get to indulge in what you might expect given their previous show –– the series kicks off with some serious head trauma and there is some nudity (though not sexual) in a future episode.

Sea Shimooka as Sophon in '3 Body Problem.'

Sea Shimooka as Sophon in ‘3 Body Problem.’ Photo: Courtesy of Netflix © 2023.

And with luck, they’ll avoid the pitfalls of ‘Thrones’ controversial final season, as the ‘Remembrance’ novel trilogy has an actual ending (no disrespect to George R.R. Martin there).

The show employs ‘Thrones’ veteran director Jeremy Podeswa plus Minkie Spiro, Derek Tsang and Pixar leading light Andrew Stanton, who has been building his live-action directing career steadily with the likes of ‘Legion’ and ‘For All Mankind’, and they all contribute some fantastic visuals as well as subtle and entertaining character work.

There are moments in this series that will have your jaw drop, though we won’t spoil anything here –– trust us, though, you’ll be sorely tempted to watch all the episodes as soon as possible.

Performances

Eiza González as Auggie Salazar, Jess Hong as Jin Cheng, Saamer Usmani as Raj Varma, Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand, Alex Sharp as Will Downing in '3 Body Problem.'

(L to R) Eiza González as Auggie Salazar, Jess Hong as Jin Cheng, Saamer Usmani as Raj Varma, Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand, Alex Sharp as Will Downing in ‘3 Body Problem.’ Photo: Ed Miller/Netflix © 2024.

Having clearly been happy with a lot of their cast on ‘Game of Thrones’, a few of key actors carry over here.

John Bradley plays Jack Rooney, a man who has hit it rich with his snack business but is still close to his college friends. Rooney offers Bradley the opportunity to play a polar opposite of ‘Thrones’ Samwell Tarley, a cocky but still loveable sort who is one of the first start playing the mysterious game that will be a core element of the early chunk of the story.

Liam Cunningham, meanwhile, feels more like his ‘Games’ character of Davos Seaworth, sharing the cunning brain and salty tongue of the Westeros resident, but as Thomas Wade, a man with a definite mission to protect humanity (no matter the cost), he’s authoritative and darkly funny –– suffering zero fools.

‘Thrones’ High Sparrow, Jonathan Pryce, meanwhile, plays a character who… Well, that would be telling.

Benedict Wong as Da Shi in '3 Body Problem.'

Benedict Wong as Da Shi in ‘3 Body Problem.’ Photo: Courtesy of Netflix © 2024.

On Wade’s team is Benedict Wong’s Da Shi, and this is honestly the best role the actor has enjoyed for years. He knocks it out of the park as the world-weary but funny not-quite-cop who is investigating what is happening to scientists in the UK. While we’re big fans of Wong’s role as, well, Wong in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he has more to do in one scene here than most of the movies he’s shown up in.

The core of the characters is the scientist group who are friends with Rooney, who all feel like actual buddies instead of actors swapping dialogue. And they’re all very different personalities, brought to life by the likes of Eiza González, Alex Sharp, Jess Hong and Jovan Adepo.

‘3 Body Problem’ is a show blessed with a near note-perfect cast: everyone is worth watching here.

Final Thoughts

Jess Hong as Jin Cheng in '3 Body Problem.'

Jess Hong as Jin Cheng in ‘3 Body Problem.’ Photo: Courtesy of Netflix © 2023.

Our advice for this one is: if you’ve yet to read the books, stay away from them and avoid Wikipedia! It’s absolutely recommended to go into this one knowing as little as possible, so the surprises hit harder, and the characters feel fresh.

Book readers are likely to be happy with the adaptation, which certainly doesn’t embarrass itself when put up against the literary source. But having seen the whole series, we’re confident in saying that this is a superior, satisfying piece of science fiction TV we can easily see ending up on Best of 2024 TV lists.

‘3 Body Problem’ receives 9 out of 10 stars.

John Bradley as Jack Rooney in '3 Body Problem.'

John Bradley as Jack Rooney in ‘3 Body Problem.’ Photo: Courtesy of Netflix © 2023.

What’s the story of ‘3 Body Problem’?

‘3 Body Problem’s story begins in 1960s China when a young woman makes a fateful decision that reverberates across space and time into the present day. When the laws of nature inexplicably unravel, a tight-knit group of brilliant scientists must join forces with an unflinching detective to stop humanity’s greatest threat.

Who is in ‘3 Body Problem’?

The ‘3 Body Problem’ cast includes Jovan Adepo, John Bradley, Rosalind Chao, Liam Cunningham, Eiza González, Jess Hong, Marlo Kelly, Alex Sharp, Sea Shimooka, Zine Tseng, Saamer Usmani, Benedict Wong and Jonathan Pryce.

Vedette Lim as Vera Ye in '3 Body Problem.'

Vedette Lim as Vera Ye in ‘3 Body Problem.’ Photo: Courtesy of Netflix © 2023.

Movies Similar to ‘3 Body Problem’:

Buy Benedict Wong Movies On Amazon

Read the original article here

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Macy’s settles proxy fight with activist Arkhouse, adds two directors
Beacon Audiobooks Releases “Beautiful Little Furies” By Author Laurel Osterkamp
88rising Futures set to spotlight Japanese acts
Tom Cruise Has Given Dakota Fanning Birthday Gift Every Year Since 2005
Singer/Songwriter Baker Grace Is Coming To The Mint In West Hollywood On Thursday, April 18th, 2024