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The Eastern Echo Thursday, May 30, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

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Review: '3 Body Problem' makes physics an intriguing, alien mystery

From the creators of “Game of Thrones” comes a new adaptation of an acclaimed book series. But this time, instead of dragons and a fantasy world, they’re dealing with scientists and alien worlds.

“3 Body Problem” premiered on Netflix on March 21. The show follows three main storylines with several protagonists. Scientists seeing countdowns that end with them dead; a mysterious, impossibly realistic virtual reality game where players must figure out how to save civilizations on a planet with a chaotic climate; and flashbacks to China trying to contact aliens immediately after the Cultural Revolution.

The series stars Eiza González, Jess Hong, Zine Tseng, Benedict Wong, John Bradley, Alex Sharp, and Rosalind Chao. The show was created by Alexander Woo, David Benioff, and D.B. Weiss, the latter two previously created “Game of Thrones.” It's based on the novel “The Three-Body Problem” by Liu Cixin. This is the second adaptation of the novel, as the first premiered in China in 2023, titled “Three-Body.

Highs

The title comes from a real-life scientific problem that physicists can’t solve; as such, it is appropriate that the show is steeped in science. Cleverly combining it with the plot, the cast races to solve scientific problems to save the world. 

These elements of science are explained in an easy to understand way that allows the viewer to be easily integrated into an enthralling plot. Science has become a mysterious, slowburn thriller in “3 Body Problem.”

This also leads to rich world building. These aliens seem truly alien. This rich world leads to humanity having to confront existential questions. The show is thoughtful with these themes, making this bizarre science fiction feel more grounded and complete.

The science fiction concepts are creative and lead to impressive visuals. The show has a high production value and the visuals are creative, leading to them being memorable.

Lows

The character work is weak. The cast is large, and there’s not a lot of time to get to know them, with earlier episodes focusing more on the science fiction elements. This makes the last half of the show less interesting as they are more character focused, but said characters aren’t developed enough to carry the show. The acting doesn’t help as it is mostly just okay or melodramatic.

The show’s editing makes it slower than necessary. Several shots linger after the actual scene has ended, leading to awkward moments. These shots would have been fine if they focused on character emotions or unique details, but as they are, they’re just a waste of time.

Verdict

“3 Body Problem” is a unique take on science fiction and alien invasions. It has an especially strong first half where the groundwork and world building are laid, creating a complex, intriguing world. But the show’s characters could use more of that complexity, especially if later seasons are greenlit.

“3 Body Problem” is currently available to stream on Netflix. Note for epileptic viewers; the show's first episode includes a flickering effect towards the end that may cause seizures.

Verdict: 7.5 out of 10.

Frank Remski is a film and theater reviewer for The Eastern Echo. He is majoring in media studies and journalism and minoring in public relations. He has worked for The Echo since the summer of 2023 and has written both news stories and opinion pieces.