Review: Amazon’s Undone is unlike anything you’ve seen on episodic television

Amazon's Undone

Amazon Prime Video has been knocking it out of the park with its original programming including The Boys and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. With action and superheroes already set, the streaming service is now taking scripted shows to new heights with Undone. The story follows Rosa Salazar as Alma Winograd-Diaz, and her mundane life is changed forever due to a near-fatal car accident. With rotoscope animation, it allows Undone to go into weird and extraordinary places while still anchoring the story with relatable characters.

Rosa Salazar was a standout in Alita: Battle Angel, who played a cyborg with a lot of heart and emotion. Even though Alita was a CG character, she really came to life thanks to Weta and Rosa’s performance capture. In Amazon’s Undone, the actress comes to life again as Alma, who gains a new perception of time and space, and she will need to use her abilities to find out the mystery of her father’s death. This is a role perfect for Rosa as she gets to play a likable and high-spirited character who has to juggle two different worlds.

The real meat of Undone is Alma’s struggle with her relationships and her wanting to help out her dead dad, who’s played by Bob Odenkirk. With the car accident, Alma is now able to see her dead. This creates a problem though. On the one hand, if she agrees to help out her dad, she’ll be living a crazy life where she can travel through time and place. However, this will affect her life in the regular world where people will think she’s crazy. On the other hand, she can go back to a normal life, doing the same boring things with her boyfriend, mother, and sister. Not everything is black and white, and viewers really get to see the supporting characters shine as Alma sees them in a new light thanks to her powers.

Rotoscope is a technique used in films like Richard Linklater’s Waking Life and A Scanner Darkly where animators would trace over live-action footage to create realistic animation. The veteran team who worked on A Scanner Darkley has been keeping rotoscope alive at Minnow Mountain including co-producer Craig Staggs. With direction from Hisko Hulsing (Montage of Heck), the blend of 2D animation, 3D animation, and oil paintings is used to great effect in Undone, especially when Alma experiences all sorts of random events and places like floating in outer space and traveling back into the past.

Showrunners Kate Purdy and Raphael Bob-Waksberg (“BoJack Horseman”) and the animation team have created a special series. With a relatable cast, an intriguing story involving a father’s death, and extraordinary use of animation, Amazon’s Undone is unlike anything you’ve seen on episodic television. Each episode is about 22 minutes, and with a total of 8 episodes, it’s like watching a 3-hour animated movie filled with wonder, sadness, and excitement.

Score: 4.5/5 Atoms

Undone premieres on Amazon on September 13, 2019.

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