3 Body Problem

3 Body Problem

I was surprised to learn that there was going to be a Netflix adaptation of one of my favorite books. There had already been a Chinese adaptation announced and a Chinese animated series of The Dark Forest announced. It’s weird that so many adaptions of the same books would get made so soon one after the other. Learning that the directors were going to be the same two people that left a poor impressions on everyone after what happened with Game of Thrones I was disappointed. However, I was cautiously optimistic knowing thinking that they could do a reasonably good job given a complete source material so they weren’t responsible for crafting the events themselves. After the first trailer was released it looked decent, but unfortunately I was still greatly disappointed with this adaptation overall in the end.

3 Body Problem the Netflix series suffers from poor pacing and a lack of understanding of what made the book fascinating. It takes the concepts and thought provoking events and place them as a backdrop to the drama of individuals. The story of Three Body Problem the book is so grand and of such scale that mere individuals and their feelings about modern issues with society are nearly irrelevant. Yet that appears to be the primary focus of this adaptation. In the book the characters are more akin to chess pieces to move the story along or lenses to view the events from and to give perspective to the much grander story taking place. Reducing the book to the petty drama of individuals makes it feel like any other sitcom of no consequence. The tone at times was also almost comical rather than the deadly seriousness that the book had that made is so compelling. The constant mentioning of aliens and the one time the Fermi paradox was brought up felt nearly fourth wall breaking like the characters knew that they were in a story. Almost like if the characters in a zombie apocalypse kept bringing up how annoying it is that they were in a zombie apocalypse like all those zombie apocalypse movies they saw. The book up to the point of this adaptation very sparsely brought up the word “alien” as nobody in such a situation would actually believe such a thing so readily and the reader isn’t meant to believe it so readily either until the very end.

Halfway through it had already reached the climax of the of the first book. The pacing greatly suffers from being limited to only 8 episodes, but they had already exhausted the contents of the first book by 4 episodes. Instead they decided to pull content from the second and even the third book. These events do take place chronologically at the same time, but don’t really make sense to be told in this order. I find this to be poor delivery of these events because they make more sense as flashbacks once you fully understand the weight of what is occurring in the future. Not putting proper emphasis on the moments that matter and giving too much emphasis on the moments that don’t matter is a common theme among this adaptation.

The one aspect of this adaptation that I found to be well done was the events of the Chinese cultural revolution. Which ironically was one of the parts that the Chinese Tencent adaptations did poorly and quickly glossed over. The scenery, the costumes, the actors felt well done and authentic in these scenes and it almost feels like these parts were handled by a completely different studio and director to the rest of the show.

It is possible that there could be a season 2 considering where the story leaves off, but based on how focused on people and with almost everything taking place in 21st century locations I have little hope for a season 2 to do the events of The Dark Forest any justice. Nothing that we have seen in season 1 shows that they are capable of show a world nearly 400 years into the future and all the events that take place in space.

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