3 Body Problem: An Epic Tale of Humanity Threatened by Aliens

3 Body Problem: An Epic Tale of Humanity Threatened by Aliens

Netflix’s new TV series 3 Body Problem is a magnificent, exquisitely wrought epic that straddles the genres of history, politics, psychology, eschatology, romance, and astrophysics (to name but a few). The plot line is simple: humanity faces an existential threat as the laws of physics unravel in a time warp that heralds a new age of stability after chaos.

3 Body Problem was co-created and written by David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Alexander Woo, based on the Remembrance of Earth’s Past novels by Liu Cixin. Four directors are credited with the show’s eight episodes: Derek Tsang, Andrew Stanton, Minkie Spiro, and Jeremy Podeswa.

While the series is described by its creators as belonging to the “science fiction” category, this designation does not do justice to this intriguing production, with its stunning visual effects and superb performances by a capable ensemble of actors, notably John Bradley, Rosalind Chao, Liam Cunningham, Elza González, and Jess Hong.

# Body Problem 1

Photo by ED MILLER/NETFLIX – © 2024 Netflix, Inc.

3 Body Problem is a reference to the San-Ti, a band of aliens who threaten Earth with an apocalyptic fury fueled by their origin in a planetary system with three suns. Their arrival is still hundreds of years away, but their impact as a Shiva-like destroyer of worlds makes itself manifest in the thought patterns of the contemporary physicists—known as the Oxford Five—who seek to save humanity from its fury. Their dogged devotion to truth-seeking also reveals the perils of subjecting scientific inquiry to ideological constraints, as in the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 1960s as well as contemporary issues like the coronavirus pandemic and global warming.

Or, as described in the show’s official synopsis: “Alongside the more epic elements of the story—vast and sweeping environments set in a virtual reality world, the threat of alien invaders, an ominous countdown that can inexplicably overtake a person’s vision—was a simple, grounded core narrative: when the laws of the universe start to break, a group of brilliant, close-knit college friends, whose characters were developed for the series, must reunite and figure out who’s responsible before time runs out.”

Apart from the storyline and character elements, 3 Body Problem is worth watching just for its impressive use of virtual reality, under the skilled supervision of Steve Kullback.  Especially the scenes involving Kublai Khan’s pleasure dome and the fire that engulfs a medieval cathedral—yes, viewers should be prepared to abandon all their preconceived notions of the time-space continuum. At warp speed, the conventional laws of physics are shattered before our very eyes as the narrative shifts seamlessly from Mao’s China to present-day London, from Tudor England to the dynastic settings of ancient Mongolia, from New York to an abandoned military base on a mountaintop in western Spain.

David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are acclaimed for their earlier collaboration on The Game of Thrones, while Alexander Woo is noted for writing True Blood, another HBO series. As David Benioff said when he and Weiss agreed to tackle the project, “[Liu Cixin’s novel] was, in so many ways, unlike anything we’d ever read, and certainly unlike anything we’d ever contemplated bringing to the screen.” Weiss added that “It’s such an ambitious story, and it opens up so many possibilities for an adaptation.”

Both of them, however, declared that 3 Body Problem is “about as far away as you can get from what we’d just done on Thrones. That’s where both the excitement and the fear have come from; you’re doing something new, so you need to start over. You can’t use the template that you used before and just plug new characters and dialogue and story into it. Even the tone is different; the look of it is different. Everything about this show is different.”

Vive la différence!

3 Body Problem

Photo by ED MILLER/NETFLIX – © 2024 Netflix, Inc.

Rating: A+

Check out more of Edward’s articles. 

Here’s the trailer of the series. 

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