AppleTV+’s latest foray into sci-fi is short on resolutions but long on atmosphere.
It is, perhaps, a bit unfair to start a review of Constellation by noting its similarities to The Cloverfield Paradox. Still, they’re undeniably evident in the early going. The show opens with an international collection of astronauts facing an emergency in the wake of an incredible experiment. In the aftermath, evidence mounts that fatalities and damage to the space station were not the only consequences. Those who stayed up late after the Super Bowl to watch the third film in the Cloverfield anthology brand (?) will likely hear how similar that plot sounds. Thankfully, AppleTV+’s new series comes out looking favorable in the comparison.
A significant reason why is Constellation is far more interested in mining horror from what happens when Jo (Noomi Rapace) returns to Earth. As the astronaut left behind longest on the dying space station, her sense of disconnect is initially entirely understandable. However, as her experiences increasingly fail to match the realities of everyone around her, the suggestion that she’s experiencing nothing more than some short-term trauma response breaks down. Something happened to Jo, something she’s brought back to Earth with her. Continue Reading →
The sea is always a great setting for a story. It’s both soothing and menacing; water is cleansing and purifying, and a consistently replenishing source of food. But it’s also dangerous and uncompromising. Water is one of nature’s greatest antagonists, it can get into virtually anything, softening it, weakening it, eventually breaking it apart. But nothing on earth would survive without it. It’s a brilliant metaphor for so many things, as it’s constantly changing and moving and covers wondrous and monstrous secrets. It works even better in visual mediums like TV and film because it’s beautiful to both look at and listen to. The CW’s new eco-thriller, The Swarm, makes good use of its watery locations in establishing an aura of tranquil menace: everything seems calm and orderly, but there’s trouble bubbling up just below the surface. Continue Reading →
What makes a novel “unfilmable”? Often, it’s because it’s simply too large in scope and scale, like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, which depicts the lives of seven generations of the same family. Or, as with Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, it’s too dense and labyrinthian. The more successful attempts, such as Denis Villeneuve’s Dune and Netflix’s adaptation of The Sandman, have been filmed in multiple parts, while failures like 2017’s The Dark Tower condense the story down to its most basic components, checking off the most salient points (“there was a tower, it was dark”) and nothing more. Continue Reading →