04 September 2020 04:35

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'Raised By Wolves' brings Ridley Scott's new sci-fi vision to HBO Max (review)

(CNN) "Raised by Wolves" might be the year's most original series, an audaciously cerebral science-fiction concept that covers so much ground in the premiere it's hard to imagine where the show can ultimately go. But it's hard to escape the sobering real-world echoes of humans being forced to establish colonies beyond Earth, having ruined the planet not because of climate change as much as unfettered tribalism, and war between believers and atheists. In this case, we begin with the efforts of the atheists, which have dispatched a pair of androids--known as Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim)--to the habitable planet Kepler-22b with a number of fertilized embryos. There have been a lot of performances by actors as androids, but it's hard to think of one more creepily believable than Collin--fellow Scandinavian Alicia Vikander's work in "Ex Machina" comes to mind--which isn't intended to shortchange Salim, whose Father seeks to distract the children by telling awful Dad jokes. The visionary director behind "Blade Runner" and "Alien" took a few decades away from a genre forever indebted to his alternatively piercing and thoughtful work, before diving back in with "Prometheus," "The Martian," "Alien: Covenant," and now "Raised by Wolves," an original series for HBO Max. Scott took a similarly lengthy break from television; his last serialized project to hit screens was the BBC drama "Mogul" in 1969 (though he helmed a failed pilot for Showtime titled "The Vatican" in 2013, which we still desperately want to see).

On board are Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim), two semi-sentient robots clothed in shimmery, '80s-era bodysuits who've come to Kepler-22b in order to birth six human children of their very own. Mother soon tells her children the family history: Their parents escaped a dying planet (Earth) where religious fanatics led a semi-successful crusade to rid civilization of all non-believers. "Raised by Wolves" is built on such a familiar structure, it's easy to get caught up in the bizarre details — like when Mother turns into a bronze statue and flies off into the sky, or when she starts… well, doing some pretty bloody stuff at the end of Episode 1. (Please, WarnerMedia, give Ridley all the money he wants for one more movie about David.) Mother and Father mine very little compelling insights into humanity over six increasingly monotonous hours, and the children are only a challenge to keep alive, rather than intellectual equals who might help the androids — and the audience — learn something. "Raised by Wolves" premieres its first three episodes Thursday, September 3 on HBO Max. New episodes will be released in batches over subsequent weeks.

Inside are two androids, Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim) and six human embryos. The first two episodes were directed by Ridley Scott, the man who gave the world some phenomenal movies, including "Alien" and "Blade Runner" and equally some forgettable movies including "Prometheus" and "Alien Covenant." So, if for no other reason, watching "Raised By Wolves" offers the prospect of glimpsing the direction in which Sir Ridley's creative juices are currently flowing since he's slated to be involved in an animated series set before "Blade Runner 2049," an untitled "Alien" prequel and a sci-fi project called "Tranquility Base." Mother tries to hide the fact that she's an android, since apparently they're prohibited to raise human children — but the colonists, led by Marcus (Travis Fimmel) see straight through the attempt at deception. The show was written specifically for television just a couple of years ago by Aaron Guzikowski, whose Hollywood debut was the 2013 movie "Prisoners" — a story about the lengths to which a father will go to rescue his kidnapped daughter, a similar theme seen in "Raised By Wolves" as the two androids also embark on a parental journey of sorts. The first three episodes of "Raised By Wolves" are currently streaming on HBO Max and a new episode will drop each week, with Episode 4 airing on Sept. "Raised by Wolves," premiering Thursday on HBO Max, returns executive producer Ridley Scott, who also directed the first two episodes, to the thematic ground of "Blade Runner," namely the self-consciousness of artificial intelligence and what it means, for better or worse, to be human.

Amanda Collin as Mother, left, Winta McGrath as Campion and Abubakar Salim as Father have a family meeting in "Raised by Wolves," from Ridley Scott and HBO Max. Though the Mithraic find it sinful to put children in the care of artificial life forms, which they regard as soulless, one canny Atheist manages to reprogram a pair of androids as Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim) and pack them off in an interstellar hot rod with human embryos to populate Kepler-22 in advance of the ark's arrival. And as with many tales of extraterrestrial homesteading — "We were the first, the pioneers," remembers very special child Campion, played by Winta McGrath, briefly narrating — it's also a sort of western, or a colonial drama, Mother and Father and the kids peacefully living off the land before the settlers arrive, with their big ship, their religion and their guns. Raised by Wolves is the highly anticipated new series from Aaron Guzikowski on the new streaming platform HBO Max. Express.co.uk has everything you need to know including release date, cast, trailer, plot and more. Raised by Wolves was originally supposed to air on TNT before the project was moved to HBO Max last year. Other cast members in Raised by Wolves include: Amanda Collin as Mother The synopsis for the series reads: "Two androids — Father and Mother — tasked with raising human children on a mysterious new planet after the Earth was destroyed by a great war.

"As the burgeoning colony of humans threatens to be torn apart by religious differences, the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task." Ridley Scott directed the first two episodes, Raised by Wolves and Pentagram, marking his television debut.