Voltron: Legendary Defender (Netflix)
By Ian Wells
I think it’s fair to say I am not the intended target audience for this. To my recollection I have seen none of the previous incarnations. This was not childhood viewing for me. The series biggest drawback so far as I am only seven or eight episodes in is that it appears to be struggling to target one specific target audience. I’m not really sure if it is aimed purely at older fans seeking nostalgia or if it’s aiming to convert a new fan base. It seems somewhere between the two.
I watched the pilot one weekend when I had a spare moment. It kept my attention and moved along at a good pace. The animation is top draw. I particularly enjoyed the fluidity at which the lions moved and found it rather captivating. Then I watched it again with my reviewers hat on, at which point I drew some negative conclusions. That well paced plot I mentioned? It did seem to gloss over a few things. Is there a significance to Kerberos? What is the role of the Garrison? All of this might just be easter egg fodder for hardcore Voltron fans.
For me it was a misstep in storytelling. I personally would have liked to have spent more time at the Garrison fleshing out the characters of Lance, Pidge and Hunk. The case of Lance and Keith is a prime example of this. It is mentioned in passing that a student has been expelled from the Garrison. Then when Keith shows up it is shoe horned in that him and Lance were rivals at the Garrison. Couldn’t we have been shown this instead?
While Keith is expelled he puts together a load of stuff leading him to the blue lion. Couldn’t we have seen this too rather than him just going “Hey guys I found this!” Maybe it’s The Wire fan in me and the mantra “All the pieces matter.” I guess maybe this might be too much for a younger audience! All of this could have been prevented without the need for an hour pilot.
I did some research on the original and apparently Voltron didn’t appear for five episodes! I’m not telling the writers how to do their jobs but they could have cut the pilot into two. As it only took one hour for Voltron to form we now have to go the rest of the series full of false pretences. Voltron is the most powerful force in all known universes so is it worth tuning in knowing it will never be beaten?
Wow I got a lot of negatives out of the pilot. But there’s more! Episode two is a paint by numbers training episode. Don’t you just hate those? The juvenile humour levels will start to grind by the third episode. I also didn’t like how after meeting for only five minutes Princess Allura was able to determine the character’s personality in order to match them up with a lion. Pidge threatened to leave in one episode but we all knew she wouldn’t follow through with it. Like Voltron was only going to have one arm!
Before I go I do have some positives, believe it or not. I’ve already mentioned the brilliant animation. A blend of classic anime and cutting edge CGI. The movements of the lions is a dream. There are very subtle differences in how each one moves and fights. If someone would be so kind as to make a highlight footage of just Voltron scenes I would happily watch it. The voice cast is one big positive for the series. Steven Yeun is going to be popular no matter what with his Walking Dead following. Tyler Labine excels as the fat friend (Who Knew)? The always brilliant Rhys Darby provides high energy and humour as Coran the Royal advisor. Bex Taylor-Klaus puts more emotion into her portrayal of Pidge/Katie than she did in any episode of Arrow!
For me the mystery of what happened to Shiro during his time in captivity is one reason to continue watching the whole series. I mean he now has a robotic arm! Early on a villain makes the comment “I see the druids experimented on you.” Or something along those lines. A creepy sounding group conducting experiments on people. Sign me up!
I have a feeling a few people might come at me after reading this and rightfully so. People love Voltron as much as I love other things. I know to them I’m wrong but that’s how I reviewed it. Besides what do I know? A second series was announced at San Diego Comic Con. So come on tell me I’m wrong. Tell me the rest of the series is worth watching. My Twitter is below or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
About Ian Wells
Ian currently runs the THEBLOGOFCOMICSHOTTOPICS blog. Check him out on Twitter @IanWells87.
About Language of Bromance
Together Richard and Shawn formed the podcast The Language of Bromance and from there it has been nothing but fun. The duo laugh about things they go through, stories in the news and even getting serious discussing net neutrality along with other issues. Every so often their friendship turns to a bitter rivalry with their nerdiest creation the draft episodes. An original take on a best of or a top 10 list. The draft episodes are done like an NFL Draft 7 rounds where Richard and Shawn flip-flop picks on various topics.
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