Reviewed By: thisoldcan
Review Date: 2/5/17 8:35 pm
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In the opening Short Trips story for 2017, Liv Chenka (Nicola Walker) wakes up from a deeply confusing dream to find everyone in a lethargic state. Everyone except for one young girl, who's a long way from home, and who bears a striking similarity to Liv. The World Beyond the Trees is a decidedly average story; it attempts to be a forebear to Absent Friends from Doom Coalition 3, in some ways, but falls flat due to a rather boring script. Not even Walker's strong performance can save this story from mediocrity.
Nicola Walker does a good job here narrating the story. As I said in my preview above, this story is unlike most of the other Short Trips releases, and instead is similar in style to the Companion Chronicles, with Walker actually acting as Liv, rather than just reading the script in a traditional audio book reading. This gives the story a bit more life, allowing Walker to show her range here and allowing her to give insights into the character that only the actor playing her could accurately portray. And Walker does give a great performance here, helped in part, giving insights into Liv's relationship with Molly and her feelings on being in the past, injecting some actual emotions into the story throughout.
However, while Nicola Walker's performance here was strong, I found that Jonathan Barnes' script was rather lacking here. The story felt incomplete honestly, and while I thought Barnes did a great job giving backstory to the character of Liv, it almost seems like he forgot he had to write a story, not just character development. The Lilla plot that drove the story forward felt hastily done and incomplete. I think that this story could've benefited from even five minutes of backstory for Lilla and her father, rather than just quickly flashing through their reasons for leaving and for Lilla ending up in this situation. The entire plot with an Millieure alien showing up at the end felt tacked on to the story, and the dream sequence that kicked off the main plot had no meaning other than being a treasure map to get to the end of the story. It really feels like this story was a pilot of sorts for Absent Friends, with Liv finally being able to contact her father and tell him goodbye, but in practice, this story just didn't work for me, plotwise.
Overall, The World Beyond the Trees was a bland start to the 2017 run of Short Trips. Nicola Walker gave a strong performance, but writer Jonathan Barnes delivered an exceedingly bland script overall. It started out solid, with some nice character work for Liv, but quickly petered out into nothing, which was disappointing. The story itself felt incomplete and even more pointless than most Short Trips releases, leading to a rather disappointing story overall.