Joel Edgerton as Jason Dessen holding a backpack standing in front of the box in Dark Matter | Agents of Fandom

‘Dark Matter’ Is a Faithful yet Innovative Recreation of Crouch’s Sci-Fi Novel

Author Blake Crouch is heavily involved in the series, and it shows.

This review was made possible by advanced screeners of Episodes 1-9 of Dark Matter, provided to Agents of Fandom by Apple for review purposes.

Nearly halfway through 2024, Apple TV+ continues to prove why they are the go-to source for sci-fi television series. Their latest endeavor is Dark Matter, a live-action retelling of Blake Crouch‘s acclaimed New York Times Bestseller starring Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Connelly, Alice Braga, and more. Dark Matter follows Jason Dessen (Edgerton), a man who is kidnapped and drugged on his way home one night, only to wake up and find the world he wakes up in is not the one he left.

This was my first experience going into a live-action adaptation of a book with a pre-established familiarity of the novel it’s based on. I read Crouch’s sci-fi novel last year and was engrossed from cover to cover. When I learned Apple was turning the book into a series, I was both eager and apprehensive. My biggest concern was that coming in with that knowledge, everything would be a bit too predictable.

I quickly discovered this was not the case — the starting and ending points may be similar, but the journey is wildly different. On first read, I was stunned at the sheer volume of unpredictable twists and turns in Crouch’s novel. The series is just as enamoring, if not more so, with unexpected developments guaranteed to keep book readers and newcomers alike on the edge of their seats.

‘Dark Matter’ Walks the Fine Line of Originality and Familiarity With Grace

Joel Edgerton looking up inside the box while holding a flashlight in Dark Matter | Agents of Fandom
It subtly becomes easier to root for Jason Dessen as his ultimate goal gets further out of his grasp. Image Credit: Apple TV+.

What if someone was so obsessed with “The path not taken” that they figured out a way to eliminate regret entirely?

It’s usually a green flag with any adaption when the original creator is involved, not just in a minor consulting role, but with multiple production levels. Projects that exclude the original creators, more often than not, miss the crucial characteristics that give something its identity. Apple TV+’s Dark Matter feels like another story directly out of the mind of author Crouch, whose fingerprints are all over the script and production design.

Changes in any adaptation are often dismissed immediately with an accompanying comment like, “Why make changes if the source material is so good?” But that’s what all the greatest adaptations do. Creating anything, such as a novel, movie, or television show, takes complex choices that ultimately affect the story’s outcome. Bringing in original creators to let them play a game of “What if I had done this instead?” in an entirely new medium is how great new creations of existing properties are made.

Dark Matter also nails nearly every tangible element that is used to measure television. The production design feels wholly authentic on both a macro and microscopic level; the series gets every crucial element right but leaves so much room to appreciate the small details. The show is nearly perfect on every level, but there is one inexcusable slip-up that will inevitably impact its legacy.

Jennifer Connelly Is Atrociously Miscast As Daniela Dessen

Jennifer Connelly staring into Joel Edgerton's eyes with his right arm around his neck in Dark Matter | Agents of Fandom
Jennifer Connelly does a fine job portraying her version of Daniela Dessen, but she never should’ve been considered for the role. Image Credit: Apple TV+.

The only way to describe Connelly’s casting as Daniela Dessen is an egregious, inappropriate, and unacceptable whitewashing. For something like this to happen in 2024 is indefensible. In Crouch’s novel, Daniela is Spanish — it’s integral to her character and even plays a large part in one particular scene later in the book which was completely written out of the series. There’s a lot to love in Dark Matter, but this is an extreme blemish on an otherwise spotless record.

While there is no making up for this, Edgerton puts on a riveting performance as Jason Dessen. When Jason’s life gets turned upside down and he finds himself in a world he does not recognize, Edgerton cranks up the fear factor to extremely palpable levels. He has yet to receive recognition in the form of an Emmy or Oscar nomination, but he has a serious chance to make some noise with his performance in Dark Matter. One can only hope the miscasting of his co-star won’t be held against him.

The rest of the cast rounds out nicely in supporting roles, particularly Braga’s Amanda Lucas. As a guiding light to Jason in his darkest hours, she portrays genuine hope and also passionate and fierce determination effortlessly. Dayo Okeniyi and Amanda Brugel also do a stellar job with limited screen time, the former playing Jason’s colleague Leighton Vance and the latter portraying Blaire Caplan, a long-time friend of the Dessen family.

‘Dark Matter’ Is Still Worth the Watch Despite Its Distracting Flaw

Jimmi Simpson as Ryan Holder sitting on a couch in Dark Matter | Agents of Fandom
Jimmi Simpson is perfectly cast as Ryan Holder, playing off his potential partner and lifelong friend to perfection. Image Credit: Apple TV+.

If it weren’t for the unexplainable casting mishap, Dark Matter would easily belong in the conversation for the best TV shows of 2024 thus far, along with Shōgun and Fallout — and it may anyway, despite this. It’s also worth noting that most viewers will likely not have read the book before the series and will be unaware that there’s even a problem with Connelly playing Daniela. Nonetheless, Dark Matter still succeeds in taking Crouch’s novel and adapting it into a thrilling TV show.

The first two episodes of Dark Matter arrive on Apple TV+ on May 8. Follow the Agents of Fandom socials for all the latest entertainment news and reviews.

'Dark Matter' Review

'Dark Matter' Review
4.5 5 0 1
4.5 rating
Total Score

The Good

  • Joel Edgerton is phenomenal as Jason Dessen.
  • The production design, particularly the box, is exceptional.
  • Every change feels complimentary, not contradictory.

The Bad

  • Casting Jennifer Connelly as Daniela Dessen is inexcusable.
Leave a Reply
Previous Article
The Clone assassin force stand in the wreckage of Tantiss with their weapons at the ready in the Bad Batch Season 3 Episode 15 | Agents of Fandom

‘The Bad Batch’ Season 3 Episode 15 Recap & Review: How Does Clone Force 99's Story End?

Next Article
Closeup of General Grievous as he crosses lightsabers with Morgan Elsbeth's mother in Tales of the Empire | Agents of Fandom

'Star Wars: Tales of the Empire' Is an Enjoyable Ride With Two Exciting Characters

Related Posts