Dark Matter

Dark Matter
Dark Matter
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The concept of a multiverse and alternate realities has been around for quite some time, but it’s certainly become more culturally popular than ever before. That’s why all this is new, because the Marvel, DC, and others are using it in their movies apart from quantum mechanics. This year’s leading sci-fi series on Apple TV+ is Dark Matter (from Wayward Pines’ Blake Crouch), which takes a different approach by grounding on the superposition principle exploring other worlds.

Dark Matter will be about Jason Dessen (played by Joel Edgerton and also serving as executive producer). As a physics professor, Jason has settled into his role as both father and husband among his family though they’re just going through motions. He prepares coffee to go for his wife Daniela (Jennifer Connelly), while his son Charlie (Oakes Fegley) rides along with him to school. He goes back home after drinking with Ryan who is successful and always adorable Jimmi Simpson only to find himself being mugged at gunpoint which turns out not to be an ordinary stick-up.

Jason is taken by a masked man into an industrial warehouse, drugged and then put inside a large mysterious box. The box drops down into another world right outside Chicago that visually seems one thing only but becomes something else when looked at closely. This parallel realm or vision allows for multiple decisions hence creating numerous alternate realities similar yet different from ours where he never married Daniela nor had any child named Charlie. Consequently, in this case he happens to be wealthy as well as celebrated scientist who runs a firm whose main invention consists of Schrödinger box having life-size proportions enabling people visit other dimensions any time they wish. However many worlds there may exist given that every decision creates its own universe within multiverse; nevertheless Jason wants back into his old life.

Jason ends up in a reality where everybody knows him, but not the ‘him’ he is familiar with. His girlfriend Amanda (played by Alice Braga) was abandoned for 14 months after he stepped into the box in this world, while Jason himself exists in another one. This psychiatrist named Amanda is engaged in a secret project of Jason’s which involves using some of the people and sending them through the box into the great unknown still left to be explored. As such, it wants nothing from press or any form of law enforcement hence hiding everything about its characters. It is a dangerous place to work, let alone leave.

But that’s what Jason does, and even though he isn’t Amanda’s Jason, she decides to help him. Maybe she will somehow find her own personal perfect world out there somewhere. For most of Dark Matter, however this is merely an odyssey—literally speaking as per Homer—for Jason as he attempts to go back home to his wife and son. A giant box and hallucinogenic drug put bodies in superposition where they can visit every possible world at once because any imaginable combination will become true for them. In quantum state this infinite hallway has infinite doors inside that open into different realities each concealed behind its own door only visible when you open it.

However, it takes a lot of mental effort to determine what is behind each door. That is part of the reason why Amanda was called upon; as a psychiatrist she could teach participants to find a variety of alternate realities. It calls for strong will and attention but rather an intense kind of super-mindfulness to get anywhere close to where one wants to go. With every new door, Jason and Amanda improve their skills, just about managing not to die in various hostile worlds. However, they only have so much LSD left, so there is that race against the clock at the same time but also Jason is trying to get back home to Daniela who might be in danger.

It’s always fun when art explores different alternate realities; that’s what Rick & Morty does best after all. But Dark Matter never gets silly with the concept. There is good design for every alternative world featured from freezing coldness and burning hotness futuristic and forested ones too. No place has people having hands instead of legs or anything of that sort. A few are very sad, while all progress emotional narrative through wonderful organic explorations into character backstories as well as insecurities. It’s impressive storytelling.

Joel Edgerton fully sells this film alongside Alice Braga’s solo performance work which follows them across many universes.[…] Since they don’t really know each other because they come from different dimensions, but still Amanda loves her boyfriend Jason even if that man isn’t really him.

But the tragedy here lies in the fact that Amanda helps him leave her by helping Jason find his real family members. Braga makes a brave choice for Amanda — she is beautiful and possesses some form of nobility even if in sadness […] Meanwhile despite his brooding stoic nature Edgerton provides an incredible portrayal as he matures into appreciating things he had been taking lightly.

The theme permeates most parts of Dark Matter–appreciating current times as unchangeable, because of the actions that led to it. Regret and identity are studied in a very profound way by the show; this is probably the best “the grass is always greener” expression ever done on film. We are then shown how people’s lives change after they make their choices in Dark Matter, with Jasons, Danielas and Amandas making different decisions about their lives and finding themselves in different realities.

Ryan played by Jimmi Simpson is underused to be honest, though he appears in multiple versions too such that each of them has different character traits depending on what course they took in life. He’s a fantastic actor and likely one of the best presenters for science fiction who could have been included more often[….] But the end of this series suggests it may happen.

However, Jennifer Connelly is not snubbed and she was great all the time. There are several faces of her – an artist with platinum blonde hair to a dying woman, but she remains present in all that is happening around her. The main plot line revolves around a tense marriage drama unfolding as Jason tries to rescue Daniela. Without going into too much detail — it’s bigger spoiler in Blake Crouch’s book instead of being a spoiler at all — go for watching this show blind (don’t even watch the trailer).

The last few episodes of Dark Matter are gripping and well-directed although they may seem slightly farfetched. While it is obviously a television series, there are still many minor logic-based inconsistencies for a science fiction show that takes itself seriously on the level of its gadgets and people. Understandably everything works out emotionally, but you might want to piece together how point B leads from A when you look back and realize some things didn’t fit.

These could be minute insignificant details like; people eat, stay at hotels or use taxis without any money or it could be some kind of a storyline mistake here. Like where does Jason end up in Amanda’s world if he’s not from there in the first place? And why should we really put so much mindfulness and concentrative effort just to select what lies behind one door?

Nevertheless, these are mostly niggles rather than real criticisms: Dark Matter effectively delivers grand multi-verse love story that doubles as cool thriller. It looks wonderful (and sounds fantastic), has brilliant casting, and provokes intense thoughts on self-awareness coupled with gratitude due to its profound themes.

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