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True to form, Ridley Scott swings for the genre fences with HBO Max's upcoming sci-fi series, Raised by Wolves. According to the first reviews, the show (created by Prisoners screenwriter Aaron Guzikowski) is full of grand ambition and experimentation but gets bogged down by an uneven narrative. Scott, who also serves as executive producer, sets up an interesting world as director of the first two episodes (it seems his Alien and Blade Runner instincts are still intact), but the pacing apparently starts to slip as other directors and cinematographers take over from there.
That said, no reviews are totally negative. Decider's Meghan O'Keefe, for example, writes that Wolves "has the potential to be the first great sci-fi show of the ’20s." Josh Bell of CBR posits that despite the shortcomings, "Guzikowski still presents plenty of intriguing ideas."
Set in a far-flung future where Earth has been decimated by a religious war, two androids named Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim) are tasked with raising a new generation of human atheists on another planet. When a faction of surviving religious extremists show up to reclaim the children, the androids, especially Mother, turn protective, revealing their true — and possibly sinister — nature.
Winta McGrath, Niamh Algar, Jordan Loughran, Matias Varela, Felix Jamieson, Ethan Hazzard, Aasiya Shah, Ivy Wong, and Travis Fimmel co-star. David W. Zucker, Jordan Sheehan, Adam Kolbrenner, and Mark Huffam executive-produce alongside Scott.
Discover your humanity and see what critics are saying below ...
"It's more than possible that the momentum of that first episode might be enough to carry some viewers — fans of evasive-yet-ponderous hard sci-fi — through the series. I found the next five episodes a study in diminishing returns, the breathtaking aesthetic fading with Scott and [director of photography Darius] Wolski's baton-passing after the second episode and the overall world of the show becoming less and less compelling with each contrived plot point and thinly sketched new character. With nobody and nothing to really care about, I'll probably skip the season's last four episodes." -Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
"The first two episodes are directed by Ridley Scott, and the series really does suggest 2017's Alien: Covenant with less alien and more covenant, all these white-blooded androids and frozen embryos and dreamy muses about existence. I’ve seen six episodes, and worry that the momentum drags. This is the kind of show where two sides fight, and then spend half a season preparing to fight again." -Darren Franich, Entertainment Weekly
"Raised by Wolves is a thought experiment in big ideas and unprecedented leaps of faith, yet it lands in the same spots as its predecessors ... It’s frustrating to see the same binary gender roles directing both parties’ forays on what is repeatedly referred to as a virgin planet — literally, it’s a blank slate where anything could happen, and they revert to old, problematic, limiting ways. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be a commentary on humanity’s inability to change in the future, but instead an unconscious reflection of our contemporary biases." -Natalie Zutter, Den of Geek
"Raised by Wolves is an experiment as much as it is an experience. It's an unpredictable, unusual, and unrelenting watch that's created its own odd space in science-fiction television. Or maybe it's an overwrought jumble of ideas and visuals. Whatever it is, I've never seen anything like it, and that's why I want more." -Tim Surette, TV Guide
"The pacing in the 10-episode first season (or at least in its first half) is a little lopsided, opening with a rush of momentous developments before slowing down and looking backward. With director Ridley Scott on board for the first two episodes, in his first work for American television, Raised by Wolves could have been an intense, stylish feature film. As a series, it’s a bit more uneven, but creator Aaron Guzikowski still presents plenty of intriguing ideas." -Josh Bell, Comic Book Resources
"Based on the episodes sent to critics, Raised by Wolves has the potential to be the first great sci-fi show of the ’20s. Visually stunning, technically marvelous, and trippy as hell, it feels like both a callback to the golden era of sci-fi and a template for what the genre could be in this century. Raised by Wolves is a must-watch for sci-fi devotees and a return to early career form for Sir Ridley Scott." -Meghan O'Keefe, Decider
Decide for yourself when Raised by Wolves debuts Sep. 3 on HBO Max