‘Fallout’ Finds the Fun in an Apocalyptic Hellscape

The scream was just right — bloodcurdling, if also very funny — and the practical effects crew had finally found the proper volume and trajectory of the water cannon. The idea was to film what might happen if you ripped a man from the throat of a mutant salamander, exploding its guts like a giant water balloon.

All that remained was to decide what color of bile to slather on the actor (Johnny Pemberton) and on the salamander’s many teeth, which nuclear radiation had transformed into rows of humanlike fingers.

Based on observations made during a visit to the Brooklyn set of “Fallout” in early 2023, Amazon had spared no expense to make the show, the latest genre-bending series from Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the creators of “Westworld.” So it was no surprise when Nolan, on set to direct that chilly afternoon, was presented with not one but some half-dozen buckets of bile to choose from, in a variety of revolting hues. He settled on a pukey pinkish yellow.

“This is the closest thing to comedy that I’ve worked on,” he said later by phone. With writing credits on films like “Memento,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Prestige,” Nolan has tended to skew dark. Comically exploding monster guts — this was new territory.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

A fun apocalypse? Amid all the doom and gloom of most sci-fi spectacles and social media feeds? Yes, please.

“Fallout” premieres Wednesday on Prime Video, and at first it may sound familiar to viewers of a certain postapocalyptic HBO hit from last year, “The Last of Us.” Imagine: a sprawling, expensive adaptation of a beloved videogame franchise that features an unlikely duo — a nihilistic old gunslinger with a tortured past and a tough young woman whose mission overlaps with his. Together, they travel a lawless America plagued by criminals, fanatics, killer mutants and trigger-happy survivors.

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