Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Reel Thoughts: ‘Fallout’ goes out with a bang

Illustration by Danny O’Grady
The “Fallout” series focuses on one of the best aspects of the games, the iconic vaults.

This piece contains mild spoilers.

“Fallout” is a video game franchise unlike any other. Its open worlds are equally beautiful and terrifying, its stories are flexible to nearly any player choice, and its tone jumps seamlessly between dark and silly. Amazon’s new “Fallout” TV series had big shoes to fill, but “it just works,” as its designer Todd Howard put it.

Against all odds, the series somehow managed to match the tone of the “Fallout” franchise, which is difficult to pull off. The world of the show is bleak to establish the mood but lighthearted when it needs to be to keep it from feeling too depressing.

“Fallout” joins the likes of the “The Last of Us” TV show and the “Uncharted” movie in the recent run of successful video game adaptations.

Comedic moments are sprinkled well throughout the eight-episode adventure, and most of them land — such as one that saw a comical standoff between the main characters and two untrustworthy wanderers. Additionally, the retro style of the “Fallout” universe is supported by several licensed music tracks, including “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” by The Ink Spots, which has appeared in several “Fallout” games.

The show caters to longtime fans of the franchise with subtle references to past games. Characters use stimpaks — a syringe of medicine — to heal their wounds, Nuka-Cola bottles are scattered throughout the wasteland, and the classic computer hacking minigame — a staple of the video games — is shown when terminals are accessed.

Previous knowledge of the franchise is not a prerequisite for enjoying the series, although it does help tremendously because certain terms are not fully explained. For example, Enclave, the post-apocalyptic remains of the U.S. government, is an important faction from the games that is mentioned a few times in the show but is never described in any detail, leaving newcomers to the series in the dark.

What gives the show its mass appeal is the likeability of its main characters. Lucy (Ella Purnell) and Maximus (Aaron Moten) are excellent protagonists because of their chemistry and relatable motivations like protecting their family or preserving themselves. The multi-perspective structure of the story gives each character the time necessary to shine and leads to a show where each side plot is stronger than the last.

The story arc of Lucy’s brother Norm (Moisés Arias) uncovering certain mysteries of the vaults is particularly well-executed and is a welcome distraction from the main story following Lucy searching for her and Norm’s father Hank (Kyle MacLachlan).

Unfortunately, the main story is held back at times because Hank has so little screen time. He is kidnapped before the audience has time to connect with him or even understand his importance to the story. Thus, the urgency to find him does not come across effectively. Thankfully, the stellar pacing of the series negates this issue because other aspects of the main storyline quickly become compelling enough to carry the attention of the audience.

The series’s biggest problem is that it overindulges in gore. Some gore is necessary to establish the danger of the world and its inhabitants, but it was definitely taken too far. The audience’s viewing experience is not enhanced by seeing the detailed manner in which a finger is chopped off or a foot is mangled.

Any purpose these scenes were intended to have for comedy or setting a tone is missed as the scenes only gross out the audience. This issue could have been avoided entirely if clever camerawork had been utilized to show the audience what was happening while blocking out the gory details.

Overall, “Fallout” is an excellent adaptation of one of gaming’s most storied franchises.

“Fallout” is buoyed by its likable characters and stellar pacing, although it stumbles in terms of its excessive gore. Excitingly, the conclusion of the series sets up a second season that will take the audience to the fan-favorite city of New Vegas.

Email: [email protected]
X: @DannyMOGrady04

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