Foundation Review Ep 1 & 2: Lee Pace, Lou Llobell's show is visually immersive but tedious to the mind
David Goyer takes on the mantle of adapting Isaac Asimov's sci-fi classic for a series that finds itself taking a chaotic start.
Foundation Cast: Jared Harris, Lou Llobell, Lee Pace, Leah Harvey, Kubbra Sait
Foundation Creator: David Goyer
Streaming Platform: AppleTV+
Foundation Stars: 3/5
The sudden rise in the production of fantasy and sci-fi genre content ever since Game Of Thrones became a success is undeniable. While the idea of adapting Isaac Asimov's sci-fi classics into a series sounds like an appealing idea given the wide scope of storytelling it can offer, it isn't an easy one and David Goyer takes on that heavy-duty task with AppleTV's Foundation. The series adapted from Asimov's work promises intergalactic wars and clones but in a far different way than what a Star Wars would offer.
The first two episodes of Foundation have been released on the platform and if you're planning to catch both of them together, it's going to be a long 2-hour ride that may not keep you glued to the seat at all points. It's a tad difficult to sum up exactly what Foundation is all about if you're directly thrust into the world of it without having a background on Asimov's work. The plot mainly revolves around the concept of psychohistory, which suggests that one can predict the future of mass population behaviour based on mathematics. An expert in the field of psychohistory is professor Hari Seldon (Jared Harris) who finds himself in trouble with the Galactic Empire leader (Lee Pace) after he predicts the empire's downfall. In company of Seldon, is a fellow math genius Gaal Dornick (Lou Llobell) who after winning a galaxy-wide math competition, travels on another planet to meet Seldon, only to find herself arrested along with him by the Empire.
The first two episodes predominantly take us through the concept of psychohistory and how it works. It also gives us a background about the Galactic Empire being run by clone successors, Brothers Dawn, Day and Dusk who reside on the empire's capital planet of Trantor. There's also an alternative timeline that is introduced from nearly 35 years ahead of Seldon and Gaal's time but it isn't really the focus for the beginning.
To start off, I'll have to admit for anything involving mathematics, you will find me running far away from it but if you're watching Foundation, let me warn you there's no getting away from it. There's a lot of maths here considering it's almost like the superpower in this universe. As for how they use the superpower of numbers, Gaal (Lou) can be seen constantly reciting prime numbers and her reason for it is that it helps her deal with the nerves. Harris' Selden, on the other hand, can be seen waving his fingers in the air while making calculations about the future. I believe for mathletes and sci-fi nerds, this may turn out to be a paradise but for others, it's a confusing start and a lot of details may get lost while you're trying to play catch up with all the big words and calculations here.
The show squeezes a lot into its first two episodes and it's a mighty heavy dose for anyone without having the context of things. From getting a warning about the downfall of the empire to seeing its first sign with a terrorist attack on Trantor, it gets too heady to process. To add to it, there's also a romantic angle introduced with Gaal (Lou) and Raych (Alfred Enoch) after they are exiled onto a planet unknown in the universe along with professor Selden (Harris) to help preserve a repository of knowledge that is predicted to be lost in the dark ages following the empire's downfall.
With so much being packed early on in the series, conceptually, it almost becomes impossible to make a connection with either of the characters. On the visual front though, there's a lot to marvel at. The production design and costumes are exquisite and certainly promise a trip to the intergalactic universe with them. There's a sense of intrigue that these alien space cultures bring thanks to the special effects and grandeur with which they are presented. If the characters pick up more layered tones in the rest of the episodes, there's a chance for this show to become a lot better than the way it takes off.
ALSO READ: Foundation trailer: ‘Sacred Games’ star Kubbra Sait features in the ambitious science fiction epic; WATCH
In terms of performances, there's no doubt that Lou Llobell shows promise and possibly we connect most to her character of Gaal given that she herself is an outsider in the world of Trantor. Also, it's the brothers, Cassian Bilton as Dawn, Lee Pace as Day and Terrence Mann as Dusk that bring impactful scenes in the initial episodes. We certainly expect Pace to make a big impression as the pompous leader in the coming episodes as well.
Foundation has a lot going for it when it comes to its technical department, but it's still not managed to find its soul to connect with the audiences. It's an ambitious venture that seems to get lost in its own lustre of things as it takes an eye-catching but not necessarily an appealing start.
A writer with 6 years of experience, addicted to coffee, films, and sarcasm. Currently exploring all things Hollywood...Read more