Dark Matter Review

Courtesy: Apple TV+ /dark matter

The restricted series takes too lengthy getting to what makes its twist on the multiverse convincing

Dark Matter-Apple TV+

Dark Matter, AppleTV+’s adaptation of the best-selling novel by Blake Crouch, is telling a variation on the story that’s already been told by the likes of Fringe, Rick and Morty, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s a tale of a protagonist so desperate to get back the people they love that they’ll tear down the walls between realities. By keeping the scope of its story narrow and emotionally grounded, Dark Matter manages to add something to the crowded genre, but it falls into the same trap as so many other limited series by taking too long to get to the point.

The fact that Dark Matter is walking such a well-worn path could have kept Crouch, who also wrote the first four episodes, from needing to explain how the multiverse works. It’s been two years since the release of Everything Everywhere All at Once, after all – these primers on quantum mechanics are now the stuff of a Best Picture winner. Instead, Crouch’s script lapses into cliché, showing physics professor Jason Dessen (Joel Edgerton) delivering a lecture on Schrödinger’s cat that will become immediately relevant to his life.

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Jason was once a rising star in his field, but 15 years ago he prioritized family over his career. Now he teaches inattentive students at a middling school, but has a comfortable life of family dinners and wine with his wife Daniela (Jennifer Connelly) – who he shares an easy chemistry with – and son Charlie (Oakes Fegley). Then the path not taken comes crashing into his life: a Jason who never put his ambitions aside has decided to steal his chance at domestic bliss. The episode does a fine job laying out the simple joys Jason spends the rest of the series trying to recover – though it contributes to Dark Matter’s feeling of “it’s all been done before” by setting its most intriguing passages in a storage locker, evoking the mind-bending time travel film Primer.

Courtesy: Apple TV+ /dark matter

The early episodes of Dark Matter that hew the closest to Crouch’s novel are also the weakest. Supposedly brilliant characters flail around trying to piece together plot points that should be obvious to them and are infuriatingly obvious to someone who knows the premise of the show or has seen a blockbuster movie in the last few years. Even once Jason realizes that he doesn’t have a brain tumor and isn’t the victim of an elaborate prank, he makes a series of glaring mistakes while exploring numerous post-apocalyptic Chicagos.

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