Netflix big budget flick 3 Body Problem, from the creators of award-winning Game Of Thrones, is panned by critics

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Written By Maya Cantina

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One of 2024’s most eagerly anticipated launches, Netflix’s 3 Body Problem, from the Game Of Thrones creators, had high expectations to live up to.

But the crime-science flick, based on the Chinese bestselling novels, has fallen flat, with critics slamming its complex plot and moments of ‘teeth-grinding boredom’.  

The eight-part series, which reportedly had a budget of £125million, begins in Communist China during the height of mad despot Chairman Mao’s genocide in the 1960s, before leaping forward to Britain in the present day where scientists are being driven out of their senses, and killed, by unexplained phenomena.

Computer engineer and science fiction writer Liu Ciux’s The Three-Body Problem – the first in a trilogy of novels called Remembrance of Earth’s Past – was firmly placed in the ‘unadaptable’ category due to being filled to the brim with scientific jargon.

But it is a challenge Game of Thrones duo David Benioff and DB Weiss were determined to conquer. Whether they succeeded or not remains to be seen. 

One of 2024’s most eagerly anticipated launches, Netflix ‘s 3 Body Problem, from the Game of Thrones creators, had high expectations to live up to – but the crime-science flick, based on the Chinese bestselling novels, fell flat on its release on Thursday (Pictured are Jess Hong as Jin Cheng and John Bradley as Jack Rooney

The eight-part series begins in Communist China during the height of mad despot Chairman Mao's genocide in the 1960s (Pictured is John Bradley as Jack Rooney)

The eight-part series begins in Communist China during the height of mad despot Chairman Mao’s genocide in the 1960s (Pictured is John Bradley as Jack Rooney)

The Netflix series, which dropped on the streaming site on Thursday, has been criticised by reviewers for managing to both be dull and too confusing.  

Writing for the Daily Mail, Christopher Stevens said: ‘Like a rocket disintegrating on lift-off, the show promptly hurtles off in several directions at once – with some parts ploughing straight into the ground. Benioff and Weiss have no idea whether they’re making a philosophical thriller, a historical epic about the cultural revolution, a bog-standard crime drama (complete with shambling, chain-smoking maverick copper who has one last chance to save his career), a rom-com, a horror movie or a trailer for a video game.

‘The result is that everything looks derivative and unconvincing. Worst of all, as the British researchers tell each other repeatedly that “science is broken”, there are long stretches of teeth-grinding boredom.’ 

The Independent’s Louis Chilton echoed his sentiments with a damning review, writing: ‘No book is really unadaptable; the problem is that rendering it on screen will simply be too dull, or confusing and 3 Body Problem is somehow both. Benioff, Weiss and Woo made radical and transformative changes to the source material, but lost something integral in the process. 

‘We’re left with a series that’s full of bluster but no vibrancy – a body devoid of life.’

Writing for The Guardian, Lucy Mangan slammed the writers’ attempt at emulating their Games Of Thrones success. She wrote: ‘There are puzzles to solve, if you are capable, but nothing and no one to root for. 

‘Even its design as a metaphor for the climate crisis and human inertia in the face of potential doom doesn’t give it enough heft – in fact, such is the way of these things, it may even serve to alienate us further from emotional engagement. It won’t be Netflix’s answer to Game of Thrones.’ 

The Netflix series, which dropped on the streaming site on Thursday, has been criticised by reviewers for managing to both be dull and too confusing (Pictured is Jess Hong as Jin Cheng)

The Netflix series, which dropped on the streaming site on Thursday, has been criticised by reviewers for managing to both be dull and too confusing (Pictured is Jess Hong as Jin Cheng)

REVIEWS: 3 Body Problem

Daily Mail 

Rating:

Christopher Stevens writes: ‘Like a rocket disintegrating on lift-off, the show promptly hurtles off in several directions at once – with some parts ploughing straight into the ground. Benioff and Weiss have no idea whether they’re making a philosophical thriller, a historical epic about the cultural revolution, a bog-standard crime drama (complete with shambling, chain-smoking maverick copper who has one last chance to save his career), a rom-com, a horror movie or a trailer for a video game. The result is that everything looks derivative and unconvincing. Worst of all, as the British researchers tell each other repeatedly that “science is broken”, there are long stretches of teeth-grinding boredom.’

The Independent

Rating:

Louis Chilton writes: ‘No book is really unadaptable; the problem is that rendering it on screen will simply be too dull, or confusing and 3 Body Problem is somehow both. Benioff, Weiss and Woo made radical and transformative changes to the source material, but lost something integral in the process. We’re left with a series that’s full of bluster but no vibrancy – a body devoid of life.’

The Guardian

Rating:

Lucy Mangan writes: ‘There are puzzles to solve, if you are capable, but nothing and no one to root for. Even its design as a metaphor for the climate crisis and human inertia in the face of potential doom doesn’t give it enough heft – in fact, such is the way of these things, it may even serve to alienate us further from emotional engagement. It won’t be Netflix’s answer to Game of Thrones.’

Financial Times 

Rating:

Dan Einav writes: ‘While the series initially manages to offset early confusion with gripping suspense, slick pacing and well-timed reveals, it becomes unwieldy as it progresses. Characters saddled with explaining abstruse mechanical theories, meanwhile, never really seem to have more than one dimension themselves.’

Vulture

Kathryn VanArendonk writes: ‘It is occasionally disastrous, particularly in a few stunningly flat performances more appropriate for still photography than moving pictures. It’s definitely whitewashed, in a way that’s so lacking in defensiveness or apology it’s almost funny. It’s American-made TV!

The Irish Independent 

Rating:

Pat Stacey writes: ‘Brilliantly produced, pacy and featuring excellent performances, it provides food for the brain as well as a feast for the eyes. It also has something you don’t always find in the sci-fi genre — real heart and characters it’s easy to become invested in. 3 Body Problem doesn’t lend itself to binge-watching; it’s so packed with ideas and intrigue, it deserves to be savoured.’

The i  

Rating:

Emily Baker: ‘It’s fast-paced, zooming through storylines and ideas at breakneck speed. Thankfully, the whole season is available to binge – I don’t think I could’ve stood to wait a week for each chapter. It’s not just mind-bending, it’s mind-melting – in the most enjoyable way.’

Empire 

Rating:

John Nugent writes: ‘It is part police-procedural potboiler, part historical-fiction epic, part puzzle-box mystery, part scientific-discovery adventure, part alien-invasion sci-fi. That it feels coherent at all is an achievement. At its heart lies the question of what it means to be human.’

Evening Standard 

Rating:

Vicky Jessop: ‘There are too many characters to keep tabs on – Important people die before they’re even properly introduced. Fortunately, the show redeems itself – and its slightly flat-footed ending – with gallons of flair and some compelling central performances. The themes are fascinating, the ideas fresh, and with a bit of fine-tuning, it could be great; here’s hoping Netflix bucks the trend and renews it for a second season.’

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And Dan Einav of the Financial Times said: ‘While the series initially manages to offset early confusion with gripping suspense, slick pacing and well-timed reveals, it becomes unwieldy as it progresses. 

‘Characters saddled with explaining abstruse mechanical theories, meanwhile, never really seem to have more than one dimension themselves.’ 

Not all critics were underwhelmed, however, with several commending the much-anticipated series.

The i’s Emily Baker applauded the series, writing: ‘It’s fast-paced, zooming through storylines and ideas at breakneck speed. Thankfully, the whole season is available to binge – I don’t think I could’ve stood to wait a week for each chapter. It’s not just mind-bending, it’s mind-melting – in the most enjoyable way.’ 

Although its plot complexity was heavily criticised, Empire’s John Nugent felt the weaving of storylines was successful.

Computer engineer and science fiction writer Liu Ciux's The Three-Body Problem - the first in a trilogy of novels called Remembrance of Earth's Past - was firmly placed in the 'unadaptable' category due to being filled to the brim with scientific jargon (Pictured L-R are Eiza Gonzalez as Auggie Salazar, Jess Hong as Jin Cheng, Saamer Usmani as Raj Varma, Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand and Alex Sharp as Will Downing)

Computer engineer and science fiction writer Liu Ciux’s The Three-Body Problem – the first in a trilogy of novels called Remembrance of Earth’s Past – was firmly placed in the ‘unadaptable’ category due to being filled to the brim with scientific jargon (Pictured L-R are Eiza Gonzalez as Auggie Salazar, Jess Hong as Jin Cheng, Saamer Usmani as Raj Varma, Jovan Adepo as Saul Durand and Alex Sharp as Will Downing)

Liam Cunningham, Zine Tseng, Eiza Gonzalez, Jess Hong, Jonathan Pryce, John Bradley, Alex Sharp, and Benedict Wong attend the special screening of Netflix's 3 Body Problem at Frameless, London, on Wednesday

Liam Cunningham, Zine Tseng, Eiza Gonzalez, Jess Hong, Jonathan Pryce, John Bradley, Alex Sharp, and Benedict Wong attend the special screening of Netflix’s 3 Body Problem at Frameless, London, on Wednesday

Writing for The Guardian, Lucy Mangan slammed the writers' attempt at emulating their Games of Thrones success

Writing for The Guardian, Lucy Mangan slammed the writers’ attempt at emulating their Games of Thrones success

He wrote: ‘It is part police-procedural potboiler, part historical-fiction epic, part puzzle-box mystery, part scientific-discovery adventure, part alien-invasion sci-fi. That it feels coherent at all is an achievement. At its heart lies the question of what it means to be human.’

And writing for The Irish Independent, Pat Stacey firmly placed himself as a roaring fan, saying: ‘Brilliantly produced, pacy and featuring excellent performances, it provides food for the brain as well as a feast for the eyes. It also has something you don’t always find in the sci-fi genre — real heart and characters it’s easy to become invested in. 

‘3 Body Problem doesn’t lend itself to binge-watching; it’s so packed with ideas and intrigue, it deserves to be savoured.’

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