Official Trailer for ‘Fallout’ TV Adaptation Released: A Total Blast or a Major Bomb?

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© Amazon Studios LLC

The official trailer for the Fallout series has dropped like an atom bomb. 

Based on the hit post-apocalyptic videogame series from Bethesda, the new Amazon Prime adaptation will surely be held to high expectations by detail-obsessed Fallout fans. Fortunately, this trailer, like the opening door to a Vault-Tec vault, seems to reveal a wasteland full of horrific mutations, gun-slingin’ ghouls, and campy nuclear adventures in the spirit of Bethesda’s games. Fans can ready themselves for the launch on April 11th.

Welcome to the wasteland

For anyone new to the wasteland, Fallout takes place in an alternate America where the transistor isn’t invented. At first look, it’s an inconsequential divergence, but this omittance actually forges an advanced high-tech world, yet still in keeping with the aesthetic and technological sensibilities of the ‘50s. Essentially, it gives the world a healthy dose of modernist design. Sadly, by the time the player, or soon-to-be viewer, arrives in this world, nuclear bombs have reduced white-picket fences to a radioactive wasteland following resource wars between China and the U.S. Set in a variety of locations, from Boston to the retitled, still-buzzing “‘New Vegas,’” the action role-playing games of Fallout are kooky, thrilling, and above all, enveloping for any avid gamer. 

In the case of the upcoming Amazon series, the viewer is planted in radiation-scorched L.A. The hopeful Lucy (Ella Purnell), a vault-dweller who has spent her life in the idyllic Americana-confines of a VaultTec vault safely underground, is the kind, but naïve, hero of the show. When Lucy dares to venture aboveground, dressed in a very shiny blue and yellow jumpsuit, she encounters the irradiated madness that has played out in the fallout. However, note the casting of Kyle MacLachlan as Overseer Hank; a Lynchian resonance that suggests that the cornfield, apple-pie promises of the Vault aren’t all that better than what lies above ground.

Ella Purnell and Kyle MacLachlan as “vault-dewller” Lucy and Overseer Hank. | © Amazon Content Services LLC

A ghoulish glimpse of the past

The Ghoul (Walton Goggins), a lone ranger with no nose and scorched skin, will be another focus of the series. His pre-bomb backstory as the televised face of VaultTec was heavily hinted at throughout the trailer. With a suave smirk and slicked-back hair, the pre-ghoulified Ghoul – name unknown as of yet – promises to show the viewer a “wonderful place,” instilling the familiar satirical, brash wit of the Fallout series early on in the trailer. 

His backstory will remind fans of the opening of Fallout 4; perhaps an attempt to lull legacy fans into a sense of security. Although, I always found the remnants of pre-war America scattered throughout the world more telling than any actual depiction of peacetime. But, seeing that Goggins’ role seems to embody the sensibilities of the more chaotic, high-karma Fallout players out there is comforting, a reminder that experiencing Fallout is sometimes about making the most fun decision rather than the kindest.

“Of the people, for the people”

The most blatant form of fan service comes in the sleek, slow-motion shots of the power armour; chunky, hydraulic, metal suits which are typically donned by the fan-favourite in-game faction The Brotherhood of Steel. It will be no surprise to any Fallout fan that they will feature heavily in the series since they have appeared in every Fallout entry thus far. 

Locking sights on initiate Maximus (Aaron Moten), a young member of the Brotherhood, hoarders of pre-war tech with varying degrees of morality, it is unclear what lies down Maximus’ path. What’s more, although we know the reason he joined the group, (“To hurt the people who hurt me”), it is unclear who he refers to. However, fans hackles are already raised due to the similarity in name between Maximus and the fearful leader of the Brotherhood in Fallout 4, Elder Arthur Maxson. 

I think it is too early to start nuking the series on message boards for its crime against the canon but, just like the pre-war America of the Fallout series, its fans have an itchy trigger finger.

Walton Goggins (‘Justified’) stars as The Ghoul. | © Amazon Content Services LLC

Long-time player, first-time watcher

Most encouragingly, this trailer seems to capture the whimsy which makes Fallout fun. The nuclear apocalypse does not easily afford laughs, but Fallout is full of them. The floating robo-butlers of the future called Mr Handy, for example, greet the player with stereotypical English pleasantries before not-so-helpfully swiping at the player with a buzzsaw. To see that Matt Berry has been cast as the robo-butler in the series affords some excitement, instantly upgrading those buckets of nuts and bolts with irresistible comedic charm. It is also worth noting how good this robot, and all the effects, look so far. Like The Rings of Power, it is clear Amazon is splashing the cash on this show — hopefully for good effect. 

The prevalence of drugs in the trailer, a mainstay of any Fallout player’s in-game inventory, also opens avenues for psychedelic adventures as well as hard-hitting truths. Addiction is a large part of the world of Fallout, so much so that the player can get withdrawal effects, obscuring the screen with blurry spasms as if experiencing a severe migraine or simply cutting player’s abilities. It will be interesting to see how the series deals with Mentats, Stimpacks, and the many other unique pharmaceuticals in the Fallout world. This will be telling to the overall tone of the show. It will be hard to walk the line between serious nuclear-horror stories and whacky romps. The games regularly fail to do this themselves. 

Venturing into the great, irradiated unknown

Fallout has never been a perfect series, its fans know this well. In many ways, the concept is too enticing; encapsulating too many rich elements, from ‘50s American satire to contemporary nuclear anxieties, complicated storytelling to high-paced action, radroaches to supermutants. 

Any version of Fallout won’t live up to the high expectations the concept has placed on itself. But, HBO’s The Last of Us seems to have cracked the code so, hopefully, Fallout can keep this streak going. The knowing wink from Goggins at the end of the trailer says to me that this show knows what it is doing. Let’s just hope it doesn’t blow up in their face.

Words by Barney Nuttall


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