This one comes from the Pixar Studios, which as far as I can remember, has never put a foot wrong. The film was supposed to be out last summer, but suffered the same fate as a lot of movies set for a June outing: faced with the prospect of empty cinemas, the studios delayed the release, hoping that the pandemic would be sorted by Christmas.
Well, for the UK and the US . . . not even close. So with no end in sight, the studios have three options:
Keep delaying the film until audiences can return to the picture houses, and hope they’re still interested in seeing it. (No Time to Die)
Release to the cinemas anyway and hope enough people are willing to risk infection to see it. (Wonder Woman 1984)
Release it to a streaming service and see if it attracts new customers.
Pixar went for option number 3 (which they can do since they can stream on Disney+), and frankly, they deserve to have the gamble pay off.
Following a war between atheists and other people, the planet Earth has become uninhabitable. In order to give humanity a second chance, an atheist scientist (you’d think they all were, but this isn’t the case) launches a probe to Keppler 4b. The probe contains two androids and boxes packed with frozen embryos.
The planet proves unsurprisingly hostile, and after twelve years, the androids (called Mother and Father) have lost all the children except one.
And to make matters worse, a ship from the religious sect arrives …
You can tell Ridley Scott was involved: Raised by Wolves is what you get if someone decided to do a spin-off series for the androids from the Alien franchise. It’s dark, dystopian, and a bit … gooey. Like Alien, there are a lot of skeletal monsters … and mucus. My god, there’s a lot of mucus …
Y’know what … on paper, this shouldn’t really work. I mean, it’s about chess. Now, that’s not to say that’s chess isn’t an exciting game; I watched a few matches on Channel4 a few years back, and I have to tell you it’s the most exciting and passionate commentary I’ve seen for any sport. But still … it is chess, and I while I could imagine a ninety-minute movie working, I wasn’t sure about a seven-episode mini-series.
Well, shows what I know. If anything, it was too short.
With the help of the odd flashback, we follow the colourful life of prodigy Beth Harmon – from her early years being taught chess by the surly janitor in the basement of the orphanage where she grew up, proving her genius in the male-dominated arena of competition chess, and international stardom as a master of the beautiful game (no hang on, that’s football, isn’t it).
Of course, genius has its price, and emotionally-repressed Beth, played brilliantly by Anya Taylor-Joy, is unable to deal with the loss of two mothers, her growing fame, and the demands of being at the top of the intensely competitive sport.
And of course, the drink and drug addiction doesn’t help … or maybe it does … not sure …