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Review of the series The Three-Body Problem: is the release of the year on Netflix?

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The new series from the creators of Game Of Thrones And True Blood arrives on Netflix: is the daring science fiction story worth the detour?

This start of the year will have been busy for Netflix, between its series Avatar: The Last Airbender taking up the iconic Nickelodeon cartoon, and The Gentlemen by the sassy and very British Guy Ritchie. But the streaming platform was far from having revealed all its cards, because it has just destroyed one of its jokers: The 3-Body Problem is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious proposals of 2024 for the streaming giant.

To direct it, a system of three showrunners: Alexander Woo, from True Blood and season 2 of The Terrorcollaborated with David Benioff and DB Weiss, the creators of Game Of Thrones. And the challenge began from the announcement, because the latter two seemed snubbed after the end of the famous HBO series, which was particularly divisive among spectators. Linking them to the daring adaptation of the multi-awarded and very cutting-edge novel by Chinese author Liu Cixin was almost provocative at the time. However, the public quickly showed interest in the story about the consequences of a single choice, made by a scientist in the 1960s, and its repercussions across space and time.

Besides its captivating adventure, The 3-Body Problem draws its strength from many other points, and the hard SF is part of. This derivative of the genre, which bases its story on well-existing theories, offers more plausibility. Which may prove necessary in a narrative that takes place in very small detail in our time, and not centuries or a distant galaxy – although…

The series is about to be released, and Netflix has already lifted the critical embargo: so what's worth The 3-Body Problem ?

A successful adaptation for the series The 3-Body Problem ?

Passing a story from one medium to another can sometimes be perilous, but the three showrunners Alexander Woo, David Benioff and DB Weiss are no longer strangers to the exercise and have once again been able to demonstrate their know-how.

3 Body Problem.  Auggie Salazar, Jin Cheng, Raj Varma, Saul Durand, Will Downing, Jack Rooney

If the series differs on many points from the novel, it is for the better : what would have weighed down an eight-episode format was left in the pages, while welcome additions on screen offered a gripping narrative. One of the most judicious choices will certainly have been to bring the camera closer to the five main characters, thus offering a proximity that we cannot do without given the immensity of the concepts addressed by The 3-Body Problem. If we want to talk about others and the world that surrounds humans, we must already show humans in all their intimacy. This decision to focus on the five heroes is all the more rewarding as the actors in the series are all solid in their roles, and touching when necessary.

As for the format of the series, it certainly contributed to the adaptation: the eight episodes offer time to create a balance between action, contemplation and explanations. This additional time gives more voice to these unique individuals, who each integrate in their own way into the different groups of characters. We are thus offered several points of view, often very opposing, but which always ring true in their own way.

Yang Hewen as Bai Mulin, Zine Tseng as Young Ye Wenjie 3 body problem

Too bad, however, that the power of the episodes is so irregular. Especially after the mid-season climax of cold violence, which will undoubtedly recall the darkest hours of Game Of Thrones for fans of Weiss and Benioff.

Another point that leaves me perplexed: the image of the video game, at the same time sanitized, too full of CGI impossible to ignore, and above all very empty. Which will not fail to remind players of the faults that were found in video game titles from the 2000s, when the studios were trying to reimagine the “open world” system: should we see in the Netflix series a ironic error in spite of itself, or voluntary? Because this aspect seems inconsistent in The 3-Body Problemwhich emphasizes the ultra-realistic side of the environment within the VR headset that the characters use.

A science that is omnipresent, but not invasive in The 3-Body Problem

It's impossible to miss the point: science is the crux of the series. She is at the same time the trigger of the plot, the threat and the solution to the problems that the characters must face. Necessarily, The 3-Body Problem could not ignore the subject.

Liam Cunningham as Wade, Benedict Wong as Da Shi

As for theories and other scientific notions, they are omnipresent, but sufficiently measured to avoid bringing us back to school. We don't get lost in useless explanations, we don't waste time either: what matters is to show why and how the characters are led to make their decisions, and it works. Despite everything, if we combine these moments of philosophy, physics and other body mechanics with the different narrative threads and numerous characters, we must recognize thatit will be better to watch the series in one go to avoid getting lost and forgetting crucial elements. In this respect, the binge-watching offered by Netflix makes sense, provided you have the time to get started in the best possible conditions.

The strength of the series The 3-Body Problem lies all the same in its ability to answer the questions it poses, while launching interesting and never invasive avenues of reflection: the adaptation by the three filmmakers does not commit the lazy and yet very common error consisting of creating questions by letting the spectator invent a solution for him. As for the few points deliberately left unresolved, we feel that they exist to prepare the ground for a sequel, which has however not yet been officially announced by Netflix.

Generally speaking, what is The 3-Body Problem on Netflix?

The 3-Body Problem lives up to its ambitions, offering a plot cleverly adapted from the novel to the small screen, all supported by careful production. If the power of the different episodes may seem irregular, the story does not fail to captivate its spectators. The story gives pride of place to the different sciences, but the reflections on humanity are presented with finesse. And coupled with convincing performances from the actors, they offer a welcome benchmark in the immensity of the sometimes abstract notions tackled by the Netflix series.

The 3-Body Problem will be available on Netflix from March 21, 2024.

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