Latest News

Review of the Netflix series The Three-Body Problem – 2024-03-29 09:06:00

Perhaps the most anticipated series of the year has arrived in the Netflix video library. The creators of Game of Thrones are behind it, but it is far from epic fantasy. The ambitious Three-Body Problem was based on the motifs of a Chinese novel, which is widely devoted to debates about theoretical and applied physics. Which, at first glance, doesn’t sound like blockbuster material.

But the prose of the writer Liu Ch’-sin, which is the first part of the trilogy Remembrance of the Earth, published in Czech, has become a worldwide sensation and one of the most appreciated contemporary science fiction.

Although it is classified in the genre of hard science fiction, which previously attracted mainly the most loyal fans due to its focus on detailed scientific and technological descriptions, it managed to appeal to readers outside this circle.

The first scene of the eight-part series, like the original, throws the audience into the middle of the Chinese Cultural Revolution of 1966. Physics professor Jie Chetai stands on stage in front of a rioting crowd and faces the wrath of the revolutionaries, who pillory him for teaching Albert Einstein’s “reactionary” theory of relativity, for example or the big bang theory, which leaves too much room for the existence of god.

After stubbornly clinging to his scientific foundation, the professor ends up motionless and lifeless, bloodied on the ground.

While the creators of the series David Benioff, DB Weiss and Alexander Woo begin with a spectacular, emotionally charged execution of the “heretic”, the novelist tells the given scene calmly and goes quite far beyond a simple clash of two poles of opinion. The very first pages of the book fascinate with reflections on science and its relationship to the world, which rarely appear in the genre of hard science fiction.

Benedict Wong as Ta Š’ investigates what connects the suicides of physicists. | Photo: Ed Miller

It takes a lot of insight and skill to captivate readers with mere discussions of physics, but Liu Ch’-sin is also the first Asian winner of the world’s most prestigious science fiction award, the Hugo Award, in the category of best novel.

That’s why there were concerns about how the authors of Game of Thrones will deal with The Problem of Three Bodies, the first part of the trilogy belonging to those titles with which the label “unfilmable” is associated.

Liu is notable, among other things, for how he can add depth to any character, even a minor one, in a few paragraphs. However, the series, which deals with the wonders of quantum physics and clashes with extraterrestrial civilization, fails precisely in this capacity.

When, less than six decades after the events of the Cultural Revolution, the world’s leading physicists start killing themselves under strange circumstances, the investigator Ta Š’ sets out to investigate what connects the suicides. The reasons for concern in the global scientific community are considerable. All particle accelerators suddenly start producing results that don’t make sense. It is as if physics as we have known it has ceased to exist.

But how does this relate to scientists who found dead people with their eyes gouged out? What was so terrible that they did not want to continue to see that they reached for an extreme solution?

The series Problem of three bodies is on Netflix with Czech dubbing and subtitles. | Video: Netflix

As soon as the young scientist Auggie sees a mysterious countdown in front of her eyes, which cannot be removed, the audience begins to feel that something unprecedented is really happening on Earth. That feeling gets even stronger when an unknown virtual helmet appears in another heroine’s household. It invites a game so realistic that it completely contradicts the level of today’s technology.

The Three-Body Problem is certainly one of the more ambitious sci-fi series of today. He builds the plot on relatively complex physical problems, takes his time to explain how a number of apparently disparate acts and phenomena are related.

The Three-Body Problem is currently the most watched series on Czech Netflix. Zine Tseng plays the young Jie Wenjie in it. | Photo: Maria Heras

Sometimes the filmmakers manage to tackle a challenging subject, as in the hilarious third episode, where director Andrew Stanton inventively renders audiovisually some of the key difficulties of orbital mechanics and the motions of space bodies, on which the entire work largely rests.

At other times, the creators aim too much for the shortcut and the effect, when they mix insight with mysterious, even thriller-like moments and occasional opulent tricks. They do conjure up a momentary feeling of wonder, but let’s not think too much about them, as with the climax scene of the fifth part, in which advanced nanofibers cut a giant tanker to shreds like a kind of monstrous invisible 3D shredder.

It’s terrifying, bodies and steel collapsing like paper figures, but from a plot point of view, the moment doesn’t make much sense.

The first difficulties appear already in the opening episodes when introducing young physicists who know each other from their studies at Oxford and intend to contribute to the unraveling of mysterious phenomena.

As soon as actor John Bradley, known for his role as Samwell Tarly in Game of Thrones, first appears, the viewer almost feels like they have found themselves in some version of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. The rather portly bearded Jack, who left physics and became rich with a potato chip brand, only comes across as the obligatory “hilariously annoying” character.

The authors were faced with an extremely difficult challenge, how to film a book based on complex, almost essayistic considerations for a wide audience. But did it have to be at the cost of implementing similar useless characters and other titillation?

Considering that the first part of the book trilogy, which ends far from our planet billions of years in the future, is still “on the ground”, the problematic opening series of the series does not inspire too much confidence in the next sequel. The book Memory of the Earth is an absorbing read. The memory of the series adaptation fades dangerously fast.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button