The Man Who Fell To Earth Review

The Man Who Fell To Earth
An alien (Chiwetel Ejiofor) crash-lands in the New Mexican desert on a mission: he must find maverick scientist Justin Falls (Naomie Harris), the only person on Earth who can help save his planet. Together, the unlikely duo soon learn that it isn’t just his world that needs saving.

by Jordan King |
Updated on

Streaming on: Paramount+

Episodes viewed: 3 of 10

Though one of the unlikelier choices for the requel treatment, a 21st-century update of Nicolas Roeg’s cult classic The Man Who Fell To Earth (itself an update of Walter Tevis’ 1963 novel) actually makes a lot of sense. The story of an alien crash-landing on Earth, on a mission to save their dying planet, is an allegory for immigration and the human experience that’s only grown more timely over the years. And it’s this contemporary resonance that showrunners Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek: Discovery) and Jenny Lumet (Picard) unpack in this stylish, intriguing, occasionally unfocused ten-parter.

The Man Who Fell To Earth

Chiwetel Ejiofor is on fine form here as Faraday, the titular extra-terrestrial who arrives on Earth naked, alone, and hoping to save his species. A soulful Naomie Harris forms the show’s emotional core opposite him as brilliant scientist Justin Falls, whose work on cold fusion could yet save Faraday’s (and her own) species. The fascinating dynamic between the pair — one childlike and wide-eyed to Earthly wonders and the other jaded by her daily struggles to feed her daughter (Annelle Olaleye) and care for her ailing father (a twinkly-eyed Clarke Peters) — anchors the series through its turbulent opening.

The commitment to sensorily evoking Faraday’s discombobulation through extreme close-ups and immersive sound design holds together the show’s otherwise disparate elements.

The show’s combination of Resident Alien-style fish-out-of-water antics with more involving efforts to create a contemporary analogue for the American immigrant experience leads to some unfortunately jarring tonal shifts. To Kurtzman and Lumet’s credit, though, their commitment to sensorily evoking Faraday’s discombobulation through extreme close-ups and immersive sound design just about hold together the show’s two otherwise disparate elements.

The introduction of Thomas Newton (formerly David Bowie, here smartly recast asBill Nighy) as Faraday’s mentor helps things cohere, tangibly linking this series to its cinematic predecessor. Elsewhere, the presence of Jimmi Simpson’s fussy CIA agent Spencer Clay, and Sonya Cassidy and Rob Delaney’s warring Big-Tech siblings Edie and Hatch, help build more than enough mystery to make this one worth sticking with.

If you can get past its shaky start, this space oddity becomes an enjoyable exploration of humanity.
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