Through stellar visuals, limitless imagination, and sheer enthusiasm, Entergalactic turns a simple love story into a feast for the senses.
This review of the Netflix special Entergalactic is spoiler-free.
The word “special” is an ambiguous one, especially when applied to TV or film. For an hour of stand-up comedy, you can forgive it; that’s the common, accepted nomenclature. But a feature film or a series that’s marketed as a “special” lends itself, I think, to lofty expectations that it often can’t surpass. The word suggests something more than the usual, something different and daring, something that earns the label, as trite of a marketing term as it often is. “Special” is also the word applied to Netflix’s Fletcher Moules-directed animated visual accompaniment to Kid Cudi’s upcoming, same-titled album.
But Entergalactic isn’t just a special. It is special.
Framing a love story in amongst an exploration of art and artists would be one thing. Using music to reinforce its meaning would be another. But Entergalactic does all that while also being an extraordinary visual treat, pushing the animation envelope not just with fantastical and surreal diversions but also a profound understanding of the precise rhythm and timing of visual art that seems to be alive itself, as fraught with energy and imagination as the characters sprung to life by the same brushstrokes.
Cudi plays Jabari, a New York street artist whose locally famous creation, Mr. Rager, is being turned into a comic series by a well-known publisher. That change in his life is keeping him occupied enough to make him avoid an ill-advised rekindling of a relationship with his ex, Carmen (Laura Harrier), but when he meets his new neighbor, Meadow (Jessica Williams), a fellow free-thinking artiste, he finds him falling quickly and deeply into new romantic territory.
Entergalactic was initially intended as a series, and it still retains a lot of that structure; it has an episode cadence and is divided explicitly into chapters. But its story works because it’s so consistently presented and developed, with the central romance backdropped by the show’s thematic concerns and embellished by its visuals. We don’t see Jabari working on the comic very much and see little of Meadow’s photography. These creative endeavors are intended to say something about who these people are, though, and their fondness for and devotion to their own self-expression becomes an authentic source of human connection for them both.
The romance isn’t that novel – it hits many familiar beats. But what’s most surprising is how directly and impactfully those beats hit when informed by the style and energy of the visuals and Kid Cudi’s music. This is a potent reminder that how a story is told matters much more than what the story actually is. If this were a live-action film, it’d have its charms and sense of humor, but nobody would care. In this form, though, a sweet but ultimately light and generic romance becomes a powerful portrait of love that looks almost as good as it feels.
5 reasons to watch Entergalactic
Our explanation of Entergalactic’s ending.