‘They watched so many sci-fi programmes/films and decided to copy them’
Another Life, 2019
Directed by: Mairzee Almas (two episodes), Allan Arkush (two episodes), Sheree Folkson (two episodes), Metin Huseyin (two episodes), Omar Madha (two episodes)
Starring: Katee Sackhoff, Justin Chatwin, Samuel Anderson, Blu Hunt, Jake Abel, Alex Ozerov, Selma Blair
After the recent success of Stranger Things, I decided to try out another Netflix series and stumbled across recently-released Another Life. A science-fiction series focusing on the understanding and exploration of an alien species after an alien artefact appears on Earth. The series follows a married couple across their separate journeys: Niko (Katee Sackhoff), whose journey takes place in space, as she’s set out to the alien planet to broker peace, and Erik, whose journey takes place on Earth as he tries to understand the alien artefact. Why exactly it coincidentally ends up with a married couple studying both aspects is never truly revealed.
In the first episode there’s the aliens landing, Niko setting off, characters being established, a mutiny by certain crew members, lead by Ian (Tyler Hoechlin) after Niko’s plan is questioned, forgiveness after the mutiny, saving the day after Ian’s plan severely backfires, restoring normality on the ship and then Niko murdering Ian after he again tries to regain control. I don’t normally go into too much detail, plot-wise, but I felt this was important as it shows exactly what’s wrong with this series: it’s rushed. They could have made Ian’s betrayal a series-long storyline but they rushed it through within the first hour of the series. Everything else follows suit: being attacked by aliens, being infected, romances, exploring planets, it’s all rushed.
Speaking of romances, Ian’s partner reveals herself later on, but their relationship was a secret because it’s illegal to have relationships between crew members. That’s established. But then every single member, including William (Samuel Anderson), a holographic interface of a sentient AI, have some form of romance. Three people even have a threesome on one episode because the girl cannot decide between the two men. But, what else would you expect from a spaceship full of gorgeous, young people. Gorgeous, young people who are almost encouraged to wear very little, and often just appear in short shorts and sports bras while they prance around the ship. Niko aside, I don’t think anyone is over 30.
Back on Earth, just one crew is trying to solve the mystery of the artefact. That storyline eventually leads to them using a journalist (with over 250m followers) to seek out someone smart enough to assist. So, why haven’t other countries offered to help? Why haven’t other scientists come forth to help? Aside from them wanting a husband and wife duo to save the world, it makes absolutely no sense.
Another thing that makes no sense, is why they watched so many sci-fi programmes/films and decided to copy them. Studying aliens in depth, including communication? Arrival. A woman going crazy with something moving around her stomach? Alien. Star Trek, Interstellar, Blade Runner it feels like they wanted little bits from each of them to use in this. I know it’s incredibly difficult to make something original, but this is too far on the other side.
A couple of years ago I watched a programme called The Returned, a nothing special remake of a French show, about a town whose recently deceased population started returning to life (all from a specific accident). The whole season built up to the end, where instead of answering the questions, they upped the stakes to bring you back for season two. That show was cancelled and none of that came to fruition. In 2017 the Dark Universe opened up with The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, but this film focused so much on setting up their universe that it failed to provide a decent film. I mention these as Another Life is very similar. It’s trying to build up to a huge second season by adding filler just to squeeze ten episodes. Filler like their drug-fuelled party after exploring a planet. Filler such as a disease infecting all the crew after exploring a planet. Filler such as getting high on a planet. Filler such as threesomes and fantasies with the AI and a journalist trying to find out answers to something she should be allowed nowhere near. And the result: a boring, boring television series.
Visually, it looks quite appealing. There are some moments where you can tell their budget wasn’t too high. But, for the most part it looks alright. The acting isn’t too bad, either. It’s not great, by any means, but I’ve certainly seen much worse. Those are about the only positives I can think of from this waste of time.
Personal: * Acting: * * Writing: * Presentation: * * *
Overall Rating: * ¾