A single text about the consequences of global warming by, say, 1.5 degrees Celsius is the stuff of nightmares that last for weeks. And it must have been such nightmares that is the starting point for the Extrapolations series on Apple TV+. “Extrapolations” is a sci-fi anthology, and the first few episodes are staggeringly close. The series begins in Tel Aviv, where a young American rabbi is visited by his parents, who want to lure him back home, and where his mother is dying from the heat – she is only fourteen years old.
Does he climate change entertainment value? For horror movie fans only. Fire, flood, drought, species extinction, and humans as an endangered species who have destroyed their habitat themselves, “Extrapolations” is about all these things. They are stories from the future, loosely woven together, with recurring characters – and an impressive cast. It is also an honorable project.
A humpback whale speaking in the voice of Meryl Streep? Almost cost Sienna Miller her job
Sienna Miller plays a scientist who can communicate with the last whale, just as she was able to communicate with the last elephants. She suffers from her job because she gets very close to the animals and their thoughts, but bosses are breathing down her neck who demand monetary insights and forbid ties – that she programs her software so that the humpback whale lady with the voice of her deceased mother speaking almost costs her her job. Meryl Streep plays her mother, who recorded videos before her death so that she could somehow be with the grandson she will never see again. Edward Norton is a math genius who enlists the help of an old Secret Service acquaintance (Diane Lane) because his ex-wife has come up with a far too risky plan global warming to stop, to monetize – one that just might wipe out all life on earth. This little thriller is a double episode written by Dave Eggars (“The Circle”) and works quite well.
An extrapolation is an informed estimate, and the series estimates that ten, twenty, or forty years from now, the US will still be the center of the world. Wait. Scott Z. Burns came up with the series – and he wrote the screenplay for Steven Soderbergh’s pandemic thriller “Contagion” more than a decade ago. From the quack on Facebook to the shortage of masks, he was pretty much right. In the episodes of “Extrapolations” that have already been unlocked – four so far, with four more to come – the enemy of all hope is greed.
It’s all well done, well thought, well acted, the films evoke the emotion they’re aiming for: anger at a corrupt contractor outsmarting a rabbi to get rid of a refugee camp. The deep sadness the scientist feels when she has to tell the humpback whale that there is no longer a mate out there. To do this, information is transformed into stories: In order to give them the power of emotion to take with them. These feelings would be best off with people who deny climate change. Will they watch a series like “Extrapolations”? The rest of us are scared, too.
Extrapolation, eight episodes, every Friday on Apple TV+.
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