[Prime Video] Outer reach: a black hole instead of God

With a crazy formal, narrative and even metaphysical ambition, Outer range is a demanding and not very gracious series for those who cherish logic and readability, but who will no doubt delight anyone who likes that cinema is a challenge.

[Prime Video] Outer reach: a black hole instead of God
Josh Brolin, Lewis Pullman, Tom Pelphrey – Copyright Amazon Prime Video

In the postmodern register of the “mix of genres” that Korean filmmakers have developed an appetite for, it must be acknowledged that the science fiction western has never been the most notable. Although its origin is distant as we can go back to Westworld of Michael Crichtoneven in the third part of Back to the Future, we count the successes on the fingers of an amputated hand! With Outer rangethe newcomer Brian Watkinsboth screenwriter and showrunner of this new “prestige” Amazon series, therefore takes up a more than respectable challenge, even though he is surrounded by actors of the caliber of Josh Brolin, Lili Taylor (which does not seem to change over time) and the sparkling Imogen Pootsit has already won our interest in advance …

The good idea with Watkinsis to have opted for a “mental” cinema that prefers a form of symbolic purity – relatively deep, it must be admitted – rather than a “realism” that would have risked being ridiculed. Outer range. This is why this is the story of Royal, a father, owner of a ranch in Wyoming (it happens today, but time seems to have stopped there …), whose soul is like a black hole … black hole, if origin we will discover in the last episodes of the series. And who faces the appearance of a real black hole in the middle of his lands, which turns out to be a kind of time portal. Things get even more complicated when he is faced with a powerful family of breeders who covet his property and whose son has just killed theirs!

No, it’s not easy, and be warned: Outer range does not make it easy for its viewers by choosing to reject all logic (fans of well-constructed SF get tired very quickly of a series of amazing events without the big context), and above all – in the image of what we had already regretted The underground railway – by filming a very large part of the scenes in almost total darkness.

So here we are in front of a series whose scenario disproves all logic except emotion and sensation, and of which we can only guess a significant part of the scenes. As for the conclusion, with a rather dizzying last episode, filled with violence (emotional as well as physical), we can not say that it “clarifies” much of what Outer range told us so far. If this is a miniseries (since when we write, there does not seem to be an announcement of another season), it’s almost a scam …

And yet, and yet, Outer range can not be rejected without appeal (except for those who like that their stories are understandable), because it is constructed as a series of real film moments, some even bordering on excellence (… we hesitated to write “the sublime “). First of all, there is an exciting “soap” page, which translates into large and chaotic scenes of family trauma, you could almost say “à la dynasty “There are wonderful moments to hike in the Wyoming Desert, filled with wildlife returning from antiquity. There are dazzling SciFi glimpses here and there, but rich in references (a bit of magical realism à la Still lifeof Jia Zhangkewith the mountain disappearing, a nice nod to Spielbergan often recurring relationship – minus the humor – to Twin Peaks of Lynch…). Above all, there are long metaphysical scenes in which questions of human loneliness arise in a world abandoned by God – or in a world where God is evil – (hence the relationship, in our opinion, with No land for old menfrom The Coen brothers). Map, Outer range is an exciting show in every way … for those who are not afraid of a good portion of discomfort.

Eric Debarnot

Outer range
American TV series by Brian Watkins
Med: Josh Brolin, Imogen Poots, Lili Taylor, Tom Pelphrey, Noah Reid …
Genre: Science fiction, western, drama
8 episodes of 1 hour, posted online (Prime Video) from April to May 2022

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