好英语网 - www.HaoEnglish.com


‘Three-Body’ Review: A Chinese Series Beats Netflix to the Screen

The highly acclaimed trilogy of Chinese science-fiction novels collectively known as “Three-Body,” in which Earth is threatened with invasion by technologically superior aliens, is generally understood to reflect historical Chinese anxieties about Western domination. Which makes it a little amusing that, 17 years after the story was first serialized, the books are about to get more attention than ever because of a big-budget American adaptation, due later this year on Netflix. Comments about appropriation and cultural sensitivity will start to pour in minutes after the episodes are posted.


In the meantime, little attention is being paid in the United States to an ambitious Chinese series, “Three-Body,” that has beaten Netflix’s “3 Body Problem” to the screen. No trade barriers or worries about state secrets here: The 30 episodes of “Three-Body” are premiering on Rakuten Viki in the United States, with subtitles in English (among many other languages), on the same day they appear in China, where they are reportedly setting viewing records for Tencent’s WeTV streaming service. Outside of the sci-fi fan base, however, they don’t appear to be causing a ripple in America.

与此同时,在美国,很少有人关注一部雄心勃勃的中国剧集《三体》,该剧早于Netflix的《三体》上映。这里没有贸易壁垒,也无需担心国家机密:30集的电视剧《三体》在中国上映同日,于美国Rakuten Viki平台首映,配有英文字幕(以及许多其他语言)。据报道,该剧在腾讯的视频流媒体服务中创造收视纪录。然而,在科幻粉丝群体之外,该剧似乎并未在美国掀起涟漪。


The books’ author, Liu Cixin, has endorsed the Netflix series (he’s a consulting producer), though the show’s largely non-Chinese cast indicates that it tinkers significantly with his story. He doesn’t appear to have been involved with the Chinese series, but one of its hallmarks — the subject of many approving viewer comments on Rakuten Viki — is its faithfulness, in broad outline, to the trilogy’s first novel, “The Three-Body Problem,” on which it is based.

该书作者刘慈欣已认可了Netflix版剧集(他是该剧的顾问制片人),尽管该剧的演员(其中大部分不是华裔)指出,剧集对刘慈欣的故事进行了重大修改。刘慈欣似乎没有参与中国的这部剧集,但该剧的一大特征是它大致忠实于原著三部曲小说中的第一部:《三体》,Rakuten Viki平台上的许多好评者也对此表示认可。

A lot of Liu’s dialogue seems to have been moved straight from book to screen (though questions of translation, in both media, make it hard to be sure). Through 20 episodes, most of the major plot points arrive at about the same places they did in the book. For Liu’s hard-core fans, that may be all that matters. For a general audience, the show’s similarities to the book may be more problematic.


Liu’s “The Three-Body Problem” takes place in Beijing during the novel’s setting in the mid-aughts, with flashbacks to the countryside 40 years earlier. It is superficially a mystery, with a mismatched pair, the reserved physicist Wang Miao and the Rabelaisian cop Shi Qiang, investigating a rash of suicides among high-level scientists. Discovering what lies behind the deaths involves uncovering a conspiracy that dates to the Cultural Revolution; it also involves Wang’s frequently donning virtual-reality gear to play an elaborate, cosmically expansive video game.


The story’s bleakness, its motifs of environmental destruction and the possibility of human extinction give it resonance, as does its allegory of the despair and vengefulness fostered by the Cultural Revolution. But what sets it apart is how science, rather than being a backdrop or framework, drives the action at every turn.


Liu’s style reflects this: Structurally, the book proceeds like a mathematical proof, with arguments — about science, nature, society — building upon one another toward a conclusion that has been veiled, but visible, since the beginning. Wang’s unraveling of the mystery takes the shape of a capsule history of scientific and technological advances. And the plot advances less through action than through long, expository statements or recaps of past events.


In recognition of this, the creators of the Chinese “Three-Body” series have made some logical choices. Without materially changing the story, they have shifted the balance toward the present (in this case 2007, during the run-up to the Beijing Olympics) and focused more firmly on the serio-comic frenemy relationship of Wang and Shi (Zhang Lu Yi and Yu He Wei). The details of police work get more attention, and contemporary characters, mostly female, are added or greatly expanded upon, including a reporter (Rong Yang), Shi’s all-business deputy (Zehui Li) and Wang’s wife (Min Liu). Scenes that are formulaically funny (Shi gruffly babysitting Wang’s daughter) or suspenseful (murder on a long train ride), but have nothing to do with science fiction, have been added.


There’s no getting around the science, though, and the series hasn’t come up with a more interesting way of dramatizing it than having characters repeat the same speeches they make in the book. Onscreen, with a cast that mostly doesn’t rise above adequate, that’s not very exciting. It also doesn’t help that the vivid imagery of the book’s video-game scenes, which helped compensate for the flatness of the narrative and the characterizations, isn’t done justice in the show’s prosaic 3-D animation.


On a more fundamental level, many American viewers not accustomed to Asian series will be bemused by the stilted, nonidiomatic quality of much of the crowdsourced subtitling. And they will notice that while there are some lovely images of nighttime Beijing and the surrounding country, the overall production quality — the staging, the performances, the use of music — is beneath that of the usual prestige series.

在更基本的层面上,许多不习惯亚洲剧集的美国观众会对众包字幕中很多生硬、不地道的翻译感到困惑。 他们会注意到,虽然有一些关于北京夜景和周边乡村的可爱画面,但整体制作质量——布景、表演、音乐的使用——都低于一般的优质剧集。

But if you have the patience and an appetite for thoroughly imagined speculative sci-fi, you can consider the show’s deficiencies the import duty for the delivery of a good tale. And while “Three-Body” displays the propensity, common in Chinese TV drama, for telling a story as if reading a book to a child, here that has an advantage: If a science-driven plot twist confuses you, it will be explained again before the scene is over.

但是,如果你对完全基于想象的推想科幻作品有耐心和胃口,你可以把这部剧集的缺陷视为呈现一个好故事所需的“进口税”。 虽然《三体》呈现出中国电视剧中常见的一种倾向——讲故事的方法就像给孩子读书一样,但它有一个好处:如果科学驱动的情节转折让你感到困惑,在场景结束之前,你会得到解释。
上一篇: 商竣程澳网创造历史,中国男子网球能否更进一步?
下一篇: 返回列表