Be wary of low rating reviews, I saw a post on a forum that is frequented by one of the groups dramatized in this show, sending everyone over here to sign up to IMDB and hit this show with bad reviews and low ratings (suggesting accusing it of being crap compared to the movie / 'bad acting' / 'bad writing' etc.) because they didn't like their depiction in it and want to shut it down.
(After seeing this I checked most of the reviewers who have given it 1 - 2 stars, and most have no other reviews they've written on any other film/show on IMDB other than this, and only became a member to post their review here, which seems pretty suspicious to me).
Of course, this is a controversial show, clearly intentionally so, and it is inevitable that it will be attacked in this way, and it probably expected it (maybe even wanted it). But it also means a lot of the reviews here aren't genuine, which is a shame. (And I have a suspicion this review will get downvoted a lot as well!)
Anyhow, that aside. I watched this show, from beginning to end, over about three nights. I was a fan of the original movie, having been repelled/compelled by it when I was about 14, and I was also familiar with the work of one of the other directors/writers on it who made a New Zealand movie I loved a few years ago.
My honest response at the end of the sixth episode was that it was undeniably a very unique, engaging and at times shocking and powerful show, and one that I'm extremely glad I watched. I agreed with Karl Quinn's review in The Age - I can genuinely say it was one of the most invigorating pieces of television I've seen all year, Australian or not. Some of the acting was really exceptional (Lachy Hulme, Jacqui Mackenzie, David Wenham among others), some of the moments of tension downright unbearable, and some of the more sudden twists I really didn't see coming.
It felt like it got better as it went on (although for me slightly peaked in the middle in some ways), and sustained tension to the end. It also left many questions after it had finished (as it clearly intended to).
I agree with some other reviews that stated there are too many storylines - there are too many, and it became confusing trying to keep up with all of them (and the different characters they involved). This wasn't helped by the first episode trying to throw too many characters at us without really setting them all up properly, so it took a bit to ease into the show (and it took a bit to like some of the characters to be honest - not that I suppose you're meant to 'like' any of the characters in a show like this I guess, but still).
And there are some storylines that don't seem to go anywhere in the end which can be quite annoying (though certainly not unique to this show, it's one of my complaints about TV in general). Also, for my personal taste, there was just too much violence in the end - I'm into action as much as the next person, but you can become numb to it after a while. The tension was really well done, but the violence after a while just felt a bit bludgeoning. I felt there were times they could have made a more powerful statement with less violence.
And of course - Toby Wallace who plays Kane did a really strong job, although he has huge boots to fill in succeeding Russell Crowe, and I just didn't feel like his character was given enough for him to work with to try and fully hit it at that level. It seemed at times his character was an enigma in an interesting way, and at other times an enigma in a confused way.
But overall, as with the movie I found this series thoroughly compelling, and in today's social/political climate, quite brave - often excellently directed and written, with a very intense and memorable score, and a few genuine moments/twists where my mouth dropped at what they did - and what I simply didn't see coming. For me that's a sign of a great show, despite it's occasional shortcomings.
As a side note, I sincerely hope this is a sign of things to come in Australian TV. It needs more bold shows like this to compete on an international playing field, and the ambition that a show like this had is applaudable.
9 out of 10, and if they ever made a second season, I'd hunt it out. Bravo to the filmmakers - please ignore the trolls and keep going.
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