April 22, 2024

3 BODY PROBLEM (2024) – A science fiction story that is actually scientific!


Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Here is the latest attempt by Netflix to kick start what they hope will be another successful science fiction franchise. It is based on a Hugo Award winning chinese novel by Liu Cixin which in turn is the first book in a trilogy titled “Remembrance of Earth’s Past”. It is rare for a science fiction story or much less a high profile TV series to be originated from China. The novel’s global success has made this fodder for a Hollywood that is starving for original material that may translate into a successful movie or series. This is in fact, not the first TV adaptation as China has already made a 30 episodes series in 2023.

I have not read nor seen the China TV series to make any personal comparisons but I understand that this english language version has “dumbed down” the concept to make it more easy to follow, as well as changed some of the main characters’ race and sex. It has also taken much of the action to happen outside China although it has retained a fair level of connections with China which gives it a multilingual undertone.

The first thing that struck me while watching this absorbing series is the level of science in the story is fair higher than many so called science fiction today. This is not a bad thing and in fact lends more credibility to the plot. The drawback may be that it means some of the concepts that are being explained may be difficult to grasp even though this has been supposedly “dumbed-down” for the less discerning audience. Like all good epics, the story spans across many years with many key characters to follow. The overall plot involves the existence of an alien civilisation that makes contact with earth with what appears to be hostile intentions. The title 3 Body Problem is in reference to a theory of a place somewhere in space where 3 suns orbit one over another. Frankly I struggle to connect the link of this with the overall plot.

On the plus side, the series is addictive to watch as it is fast moving and there are lots of unexpected events to keep things interesting. The cast of mostly unknown young people are effective. It was also good to see John Bradley who we loved so much as Sam in the Game of Thrones series here in a different sort of character. For a science fiction series, 3 Body Problem surprisingly does not feature a lot of big scale action sequences laden with CGI special effects. So those of you expecting or waiting for some big action sequences would be disappointed. The series’ most elaborate and visually amazing sequence involving the destruction of a ship that passes through a deadly wall of super thing and sharp “nano fibers”. This well executed set piece is disturbing to watch because of its level of destruction and killing. Perhaps to the credit of the series, the story is strong enough to propel the series through without the need to inject some action scenes to keep the audience awake. Its open-ended conclusion is annoying but inevitable as the intention is to make this into a multi-season series.

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