Web Series: The Underground Railroad
Tom Clancy's Without Remorse Cast: Thuso Mbedu, Chase W. Dillon, Aaron Pierre, Joel Edgerton, Justice Leak
Tom Clancy's Without Remorse Director: Barry Jenkins
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime
Back in 2016, a highly addictive, well researched, and deeply layered TV show (before web series became the order of the day), titled Underground, came along (unfortunately, it only lasted for two seasons), which, as the the name suggests, was all about the US Underground Network, which helped transport thousands of slaves from the American South toward freedom in the Northern states, prior to the Emancipation Proclamation declared by arguably the greatest President the world has ever seen (not just America), Abraham Lincoln. If you want to watch or study how a historical show can make things highly exciting without diluting the narrative or impact even a bit, then look no further than 2016's Underground, If you wish to check out the complete opposite on the same subject, then Amazon Prime's The Underground Railroad, directed by Oscar winner Barry Jenkins is your bet.
So, are you wondering what to watch this weekend or what to watch this week and keen to know whether The Underground Railroad is worth your time? Scroll down for my full The Underground Railroad review...
What's it about
In an alternate timeline, US' famed Underground Railroad, is presented as an actual railroad constructed below the ground, complete with engineers, conductors, tracks, and tunnels, instead of the network of escape routes through swamp lands and safe houses along the way, with White abolitionists, which it actually was. How Cora (Thuso Mbedu) and Caesar (Aaron Pierre) make their way through it while evading their captors in the quest to freedom from the crux of the plot against the aforementioned backdrop.
Watch The Underground Railroad trailer below: VIDEO
James Laxton is one of the few bright sparks in an otherwise overtly lackadaisical show, with Aaron Pierre, Joel Edgerton and Justice Leak's performances also providing some moments of respite, especially in the face of the lead performances and direction barely passing muster.
I can understand wanting to present a horrendous chapter in history in the gravest way possible, but that's precisely why I had referenced 2016's Underground. It's a Director's job to walk the tightrope between being respectful to the victims of brutal past while also making it interesting enough for those familiar with said history while also engaging those encountering it for the first time. Then again, should we have expected more from the Director of one of the most overrated Oscar winning films in Academy Award history – 2016's Moonlight. As for presenting an alternative reality...well, it's not until a major chunk of The Underground Railroad is over till you realise that this could be, could be, a parallel universe, by which time you've already fought a battle trying to keep interest through the lopsided, soporific saunter. Want to watch a kickass show on alternate history, watch The Man in the High Castle, ironically, also on Amazon Prime Video.
Honestly, if Barry Jenkins paid more attention to engaging his viewers rather than hitting them with pretentious arty stuff, but like I said before, could we expect more of him. It doesn't help either that the editors seem to have forgotten their basic job and lead actors Thuso Mbedu and Chase W. Dillon have as much connect with viewers as watching paint dry.
Barring some good cinematography and a handful of good performances from the supporting cast, The Underground Railroad suffers from wayward direction that's more interested in showcasing pretentious art than telling a good story. There's an infinitely better show on the same subject, titled Underground, that came in 2016, and if you wish to watch a brilliant take on alternative history, then Amazon Prime's own The Man in the High Castle is a far superior choice. I'm going with 1.5/5 stars.
1.5 out of 5
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