It starts off rather arthouse-style with people walking backwards while Cora’s mother gives birth to her, amongst other things happening, not all of which could be explained. But moving on to the plot…
Feeling a bit like ‘12 Years A Slave: The Series‘, it tells the tale of both Cora (Thuso Mbedu) and Caesar (Aaron Pierre), on a slave plantation in the South East of the US in the 19th Century, where every white man is an evil racist. Caesar is planning to leave to go North, and wants Cora to come with him.
There’s talk about the underground railroad under the plantation, because when some slaves manage to break free of these bastards, it’s thought of as the only quick way out of there.
So far, I’ve seen the first two of ten episodes, at one point featuring a scene which will require a strong stomach as the white racists have a garden party, and a black man is whipped and flogged in the background for apparent ‘entertainment’ as the flesh is stripped from his body, which is digsuting beyond belief, and beyond shameful that this could have happened back then (the novel is set in an ‘alternate history’ but I can well imagine that it happened)
However, as our two leads make their move, they’re pursued by “slave catcher” Ridgeway (Joel Edgerton), so will they be able to make it to freedom?
The Underground Railroad has a potentially interesting premise, but just as each of the two episodes I’ve seen seem to start getting into their stride, they slow right down, making them very even, as well as rather disjointed at times with occasional fantasy sequences of aspects that aren’t actually happening.
Plus, and without getting into details, how come in these first two episodes, the railroad has only taken Cora and Caesar from A to B, only to have to escape again when the law comes after them? Why not take them all the way to Z?
The Underground Railroad streams today on Amazon Prime, but is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD. All episodes are available on demand from today.
Episodes 1 and 2 Score: 5/10
Director: Barry Jenkins
Writers: Jihan Crowther, Barry Jenkins, Jacqueline Hoyt, Nathan Parker, Allison Davis, Adrienne Rush
Novel: Colson Whitehead
Music: Nicholas Britell
Cora: Thuso Mbedu
Homer: Chase Dillon
Ridgeway: Joel Edgerton
Caesar: Aaron Pierre
Gloria Valentine: Amber Gray
Royal: William Jackson Harper
Ridgeway Senior: Peter Mullan
Boseman: Kraig Dane
Mabvel: Sheila Atim
Connelly: Jeff Pope
Prideful: Lucius Baston
Molly: Kylee D Allen
Grace: Mychal-Bella Bowman
Jockey: Luray Cooper
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.