Was I just too hopeful? You may be familiar with this Netflix original small screen series by now. This was the next project for the Wachowski duo, after their recent sci-fi adventure romp Jupiter Ascending. That movie seemed like it may have been the last sure chance for them to show fans and audiences that they were still capable of really spectacular and original work.
That space opera movie sadly was not at all received well, considered laughable, derivative, camp and simply a real let down. It may be a good while before we see another Wachowski movie. But very soon after that failure, this tv series arrived. Sense8 was a very different proposition.
The very basic idea of it sounded instantly intriguing-the Wachowskis known for the biggest and most carefully planned state-of-the-art huge budget sci-fi cinema movies, here they would be confined to small screen for the first ever time. Besides this, we have a multicultural cast of characters, a story which takes place all over the globe at the same time. Just what would we get from the directors this time? What could they actually give us? If they were these days increasingly bad with huge Hollywood budgets, maybe a restricted small screen style would produce something at least interesting.
Well, that is Sense8 and much more. From the first episode we are introduced to all eight main characters in their individual international locations as a dramatic and mysterious event connects them together.
Now look, from the trailers and reviews from magazines I respect and follow often for guidance in film and tv, it seemed that actually this really was a very special series. It had somehow taken the best aspects of the Wachowskis from the big screen and pulled them down into this series which was longer that any movie or the Matrix series. It apparently did have similar Matrix-style martial arts and many well choreographed stunts all over the place, but the writing of the story and characters I was led to believe was different in a more positive way.
There are around 13 episodes, which gave them 13 hours to explore and reveal to us the characters, all eight of them, and plenty of time to unravel the sci-fi mystery tale. So, it is a novelty from the start to see so many international locations and cities brought together, so many cultures, faiths, genders, lifestyles next to each other.
Is it the fantastic show they were telling me? After seeing the entire series, well I may have been expecting more. Not just Matrix style action to blow my jaded mind, but some kind of super-fantastical and dense story to really challenge me as a viewer. We don’t really get this, well not all the way. It is a good, mysterious story, but really after a couple of episodes it moves much more slowly as the show becomes much more about how the eight characters meet and get to know and understand and help each other. This is interesting and entertaining. It has many good points as it depicts trans and LGBT characters in fairly realistic and positive ways which many people have very happy with. So the show does take a large amount of time to explore international cultures, values, outlooks on life and living.
The series perhaps works so well because the Wachowskis are only partly involved-they not direct and write all episodes and so this saw them working with other writers and directors on the same project, which probably did them some good in creative terms.
So this series may not have been as ‘science fiction’ as I might have been expecting from the directors of the Matrix trilogy. It also may not have been the most utterly mind-blowing experience on the small screen ever but it does have many really great moments, many clever scenes written, some strong performances from the interesting characters and it does look amazing regularly with the various international locations used.
A second series is planned and will still be curious to see what might happen with the concept next time.