Even Orlando Bloom can’t bring life to Amazon’s Carnival Row

Carnival Row Key Art

Amazon Prime Video has been stepping it up with original shows like The Boys, The Tick, Bosch, The Grand Tour, The Marvelous Mrs. Maiseland Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. We’ve had high praises for The Boys, which is based on the comic book series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, and we were looking forward to the streaming service’s next show, Carnival Row. Set in a Victorian fantasy world, it stars Orlando Bloom as a human detective and Cara Delevingne as a faerie warrior. Together, they learn that life can be tough when a human and faerie want to love each other. The concept is intriguing and there’s a message about perseverance when faced with adversity. But Carnival Row’s plot takes forever to get somewhere, and the characters come off as very flat.

Carnival Row opens with a text explaining the current situation between creatures and humans. Mythical creatures have moved into the city of humans after their homeland was invaded by them. As immigrants, they experience what it’s like to be an outsider. The divide growing, and Rycroft Philostrate (Bloom) is tasked with investigating a few mysterious murders. His life is made complicated with the arrival of a faerie named Vignette Stonemoss (Delevingne).

With Bloom and Delevingne attached as the stars, I was intrigued. I’ll admit that I chuckled at Delevingne’s performance in Suicide Squad, but I’m totally on board with her performance in Carnival Row. Both actors do the best they can with the material they are given; however, they don’t have much to work with. The love story definitely suffered because of it. One episode had a lot of promise that focused on their relationship, but that took a backseat to the other dull storylines.

The murder mystery is the main focus for Bloom’s character, and that element of the story is so slow that you can easily skip a half dozen episodes and still feel like you’re caught up on the show. When we’re not seeing Bloom walking around, investigating, and having sex, we’re seeing other characters navigating life in the world of Carnival Row. There’s the story of two upper-class human siblings, the Spurnrose, trying to remain wealthy. And then there’s the Breakspear Family and their position of power to dictate what goes on in the city. This would be more compelling if there was more trouble in the city.

The Breakspear Family is involved with politics that involves a bunch of officials standing around and arguing. It’s not captivating drama since it reminded me of the senate scenes from the Star Wars prequels. The Spurnrose is the most interesting of the bunch as the sister befriends a creature named Agreus. This causes tension between her and her brother. The main issue comes from the unbelievable relationship between Imogen Spurnrose and Agreus. What I’d like to see is more buildup between the two, and Agreus loosening up a bit. (Then again, that’s his character.)

The best bits are the romantic scenes between creatures and humans, although that isn’t enough to make Carnival Row soar to new heights. It’s a shame really since the Victorian fantasy setting is already a good start. It’s too bad too since the murder mystery seems to be going nowhere until the very end. And the scenes involving the politicians are as tiresome as the senate scenes in the Star Wars prequels.

Score: 2.5/5 Atoms

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John Nguyen
John Nguyen 10442 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, head honcho.