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WIRE Buzz: Devs reviews blow minds; Star Wars: Clone Wars introduces The Bad Batch; more
Alex Garland, the idiosyncratic creative behind films like Ex Machina and Annihilation, is making his first foray onto TV with the mind-boggling FX on Hulu miniseries Devs. The twisty story — about engineer Lily Chan (Sonoya Mizuno), secretive and strange quantum computing company Amaya, and its equally secretive and strange CEO Forest (Nick Offerman) — looked par for the course for the sci-fi writer/director, but now the reviews are out and the trailers’ teases confirmed: Devs is super weird. But the good kind of weird.
The eight-episode series had its reviews go up today, settling in at a 75 percent positive as of this writing, with the consensus being that the series was smart, gorgeous, and completely bonkers. And that’s not even getting into the plot, because, well, there’s a ton of spoilers. But here’s what the critics had to say, even if they say it in vague terms:
Ben Travers at IndieWire was perhaps the hottest on the newcomer, calling the series “one of Garland’s more emotionally vulnerable and accessible parables.” While, yes, the show is a little slow and super dense, “jarring twists and turns break up and enhance the eerie tone, as the conspiracy-thriller deftly incorporates chase scenes, murder investigations, and love stories to its tech-heavy story.” The ensemble in general is praised, alongside the score and visuals, but Offerman gets called out as the best of the bunch: “Grounded by deep-rooted pain and guided by an identifiable human urge, Offerman still makes Forest into a believable messiah.”
io9’s Jill Pantozzi writes that the show felt too techy for her tastes (“the characters are meant to already understand the technical aspects of the research, so the dialogue doesn’t delve into much explanation”), while its characters aren’t strong enough to sustain this unforgiving barrage. That said, Pantozzi still concedes that the show’s aesthetic works like gangbusters. “The series looks absolutely stunning and has a dream-like quality to it — or nightmare-like if you’ve seen the giant toddler statue in the teasers,” she writes. “Episodes are punctured by moments of shocking violence, as well as an incredible number of Kubrickian auditory cues that scream in your face when you’re least expecting it.”
Amanda Bell, in her TV Guide review, assures fans of Garland’s films that their fandom will not falter after watching the series. “The show exists in the same state of elegant modernity as his movies, and the mystery-building is just as intense, if unhurried,” she writes. While the philosophy- and tech-heavy show might turn viewers off who were looking for a more simple, action-packed sci-fi romp, those willing to commit to the bit will find a return on their investment — even if there won’t be complete satisfaction by the end. “There's an expectation of patience and faith that all of these pieces in motion — er, in this case, levitating — will coalesce to reveal the story's purpose and posit by the final credits, and even then, there's a bit of a question mark,” Bell concludes.
Devs hits Hulu on March 5.
Next, there’s been a lot of teasing and hinting about the plotlines of the final season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars — from the much-discussed Battle of Mandalore to the final fate of Ahsoka Tano — but at least one thing’s for sure: The Bad Batch will play a major role.
Nothing makes that clearer than a clip released ahead of the show’s Disney+ debut, which introduces Clone Force 99. A squad composed of soldiers with favorable mutations, the Bad Batch will “embark on a high-risk mission behind enemy lines to uncover the truth behind the Separatist victories,” according to the video’s description.
Check it out, and meet the Bad Batch:
Dave Filoni’s swan song as the man behind the animated fan favorite is going to answer a lot of questions as the creator moves on to live action with The Mandalorian — which is fitting, since The Clone Wars will need to tie off some loose ends before ending for good. This clip provides the information that the Bad Batch won’t just be important to the season, but will be important right away, since it’s from the season’s premiere episode.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ seventh season blasts its way onto Disney+ on Feb. 21.
Finally, The Plot Against America thickens, as HBO released a new trailer for its upcoming alt-history, The Man in the High Castle-esque miniseries. Based on Philip Roth's novel, the David Simon and Ed Burns series posits that pilot Charles Lindbergh (Ben Cole) defeated Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 election and kept America out of World War II. This couples with pro-Nazi, anti-Semitic legislation and policies, leading to a United States that's as deeply and openly prejudiced as its historical foes.
This new trailer focuses on the election itself, as well as the damage wrought by the misguided, pro-Lindbergh Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf (John Turturro) and his wife, Evelyn Finkel (Winona Ryder).
Take a look:
As the climate gets more and more racist, the alt-history drills down into the impact on Jewish families -- in particular one played by Zoe Kazan and Morgan Spector. It's effectively showcasing a different spin on The Man in the High Castle (with far fewer sci-fi dimensions), but at an earlier stage in its shift from reality. History buffs, Twilight Zone fans, and those looking for modern-day tie-ins should keep an eye on this series from the man behind The Wire.
The Plot Against America goes full homegrown Nazi on March 16.