This review of the Netflix Entergalactic special is spoiler-free.
The word “special” is ambiguous, especially when applied to television or film. For an hour of stand-up comedy, you can forgive him; this is the common and accepted nomenclature. But a feature film or series marketed as a “special” lends itself, I think, to lofty expectations that it often cannot exceed. The word suggests something more than usual, something different and daring, something worthy of the label, as banal of a marketing term as it often is. “Special” is also the word applied to the animated visual accompaniment directed by Netflix’s Fletcher Moules for Kid Cudi’s forthcoming album of the same title.
But entergalactic is not only a special. This is special.
Framing a love story among an exploration of art and artists would be one thing. Using music to reinforce its meaning would be another. But entergalactic does all of this while being an extraordinary visual treat, pushing the envelope of animation not only with fantastical and surreal twists, but also a deep understanding of the rhythm and precise timing of the visual art that seems to be itself alive, as charged with energy and imagination as the characters have been brought to life by the same brushstrokes.
Cudi plays Jabari, a New York street artist whose locally famous creation, Mr. Rager, is being turned into a comic book series by a well-known publisher. This change in his life keeps him busy enough to save him from an ill-advised resumption of a relationship with his ex, Carmen (Laura Harrier), but when he meets his new neighbor, Meadow (Jessica Williams), a fellow free-thinking artist , he finds him falling fast and deep into new romantic territory.
entergalactic was originally intended as a series, and it still retains much of that structure; it has an episode cadence and is explicitly divided into chapters. But its story works because it’s presented and developed so cohesively, with the central romance as a backdrop to the show’s thematic concerns and embellished by its visuals. We don’t see much of Jabari working on the comic and see little photography of Meadow. These creative endeavors are meant to say something about who these people are, however, and their penchant and dedication to self-expression becomes a genuine source of human connection for both of them.
The romance isn’t that novel — it hits a lot of familiar beats. But what’s most surprising is how directly and impactfully these beats hit when informed by the style and energy of Kid Cudi’s visuals and music. It’s a powerful reminder that How? ‘Or’ What a story told counts for much more than what it really is. If it was a live-action movie, it would have its charms and sense of humor, but no one would care. In this form, however, a sweet but ultimately light and generic romance becomes a powerful portrait of love that looks almost as good as it feels.
5 reasons to watch entergalactic
Our explanation of The End of Entergalactic (will go live when the special debuts.)
You can stream the Netflix special Entergalactic exclusively on Netflix.
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