The Cosmic Clock
Force of Attraction
Our Universe is big. Unfathomably big. Way too big to try and cram into 6 episodes of a Netflix docu-series but yet, here we are. And if that wasn’t enough, this series also attempts to be a natural history lesson too. In an effort to be the best of both worlds, Our Universe comes up short. It’s still enjoyable, and full of flashy visuals and intriguing facts, but it’s also a far cry from the depth and beauty we’ve come to expect from series that dive a little deeper into its subject material.
On the space side of things we have the excellent The Planets with Brian Cox, as well as Cosmos, which will forever go down as one of the best space documentaries of all time. On the other end of the scale, looking more closely at the natural history and biodiversity of our own world, we have the plethora of David Attenborough documentaries, which this year have given us both Frozen Planet II and Green Planet.
Our Universe attempts to shoehorn in both styles together, with flashy visuals showing the inception of the universe and the forces of nature, alongside more grounded stories following different animals on Earth. The idea here is clearly to juxtapose between the big and small; the minute struggles with the larger struggles. However, the numerous “whoosh” sound effects and a pendulum swinging narrative that feels unfocused and messy, gives the series an uneven and off-kilter feel.
Narration from Morgan Freeman follows us throughout, as the first episode begins with the tale of a cheetah searching for food, while simultaneously showing the origin of our sun and how it’s a vital source of energy. From here, the series continues with these connected stories, with one chapter following a green sea turtle at the same time as discussing stars. Another sees the journey of two King penguins backdropped by gravity and the forces of physics. It’s such a bizarre mash-up at times and while it works on the odd occasion, it more often than not doesn’t.
For those more enamored by the animals, the journeys are cut short by the interludes that zoom out and show the universe and world’s inception. By contrast, those after something more spacey and looking toward the distant stars will find the animal segments an annoying distraction.
Thankfully, the aesthetics, music and camera work is enough to keep you watching. Our Universe is far from the best docu-series this year and despite being fatally flawed, still has some beautiful imagery and a couple of stand-out segments. If you can forgive the tone and narrative problems, you should find enough to like here.
Verdict - 5.5/10