Watch Wednesday

Watch Wednesday #7: Join the Team

Revivals, reboots, remakes–they’re nothing new, they’ve been happening since, well, ever.  However, it seems like film and television are seeing a greater influx of them.  Disney has an entire line-up of planned live-action remakes of their animated classics.  X-Files had its revival just recently.  Archie saw its reboot in Riverdale.  Clearly, it’s happening, and it’s been happening all the time.  But why?

Two words:  intellectual property.  Intellectual property, or IP, is any franchise and its encompassing storyline and characters.  In short, shows are pulled back for a new look because it’s a low-risk venture for Hollywood.  You’re taking something that already has a solid fan base, where characters are recognizable and known, and that gives you leverage using a brand that has already worked once and will probably work again.

In the end, television and film companies are saying, “Hey, you know how you liked that thing?  Well, you’ll like it again!”  Which, for a fan, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  You know, so long as they don’t botch what you love.

Join the Team

Voltron: Legendary Defenders is a modern reboot of Voltron: Defender of the Universe  which is actually an adaptation of the Japanese anime Beast King GoLion.  Yep, that’s quite a history.  Netflix’s Voltron does a great job at handling all its source material, however, and is a honorable take on its predecessors.

For fans of the original 1984 version and GoLionVoltron has a lot of Easter eggs, which makes the watch all the more fun.  For those–like me–who this is your first venture into the Voltron universe, it’s just as fun as it is for returning fans.

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Voltron takes place in a universe plagued by the Galra Empire, who have spent the last millennia destroying civilizations and enslaving races.  The only contender to defeat them is a 100 meter tall warrior robot known as Voltron.

Voltron is formed together in typical Megazord-fashion by combining five different colored lion mechas.  Unfortunately, the pilots to these lions, known as Paladins, are long gone, and new Paladins have yet to rise.  In order to keep Voltron from Galra hands, the five lion mechas are hidden across the universe in different locations until their Paladins find them and Voltron is formed once again.

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The story begins as the Galra Empire ends up in Earth’s solar system in their search for Voltron.  This is where a group of pilots–Shiro, Lance, Keith, Pidge, and Hunk–find the Blue Lion and find themselves quickly sucked into the war with the Galra.  They are brought together with Priness Allura, the caretaker of the lions, and the five pilots are tasked as the new Paladins who must reunite the five lion mechas in order to form Voltron and defeat the Galra Empire.

While at first perception Voltron seems like a toy hocking kid’s show, it’s actually so much more than that (although I’m sure toy merchandising much be a nice perk for Netflix).  Animated by the same studio that did Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, the animation for this show is top notch.  The battle scenes are so smooth, the many worlds are beautifully rendered, and the character designs are varying and distinct.

Along with the beautiful visuals, the voice acting is incredibly well crafted.  The casting is spot on and includes the likes of Bex Taylor-Klaus, Steven Yuen, and Jeremy Shada.  So, basically when I started watching the show I spent half the time being all, “NO WAY THAT’S–” about every voice I heard.

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But really, when such a strong cast is pulled together, their dynamic is strong even behind drawings.  The crew feels like a crew, and they feel like a real mini-family on a crazy space adventure.  They are humorous but emotionally genuine, and all of it comes through clearly through the combination of great acting and fantastic animation.  Shiro is Space Dad, Lance is a pill, Keith is the brooding older brother, Hunk is the food buddy, Pidge is the perfect geek, Allura is the woman power, and you can’t help but to love Coran.

There’s a lot I want to say but I’m not sure what I should say without ruining some of the great twists and turns of the show.  From episode one, you’re given a lot to chew on as you roll through space with this crazy crew.  Being tasked as a Paladin to save the universe doesn’t come easy, and neither does being thrown together and expected to be a team with people you barely know.  They are true noobs, and it plays off authentically.

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The plot flows naturally, and rather than being a show about Voltron, it’s about the team.  Episodes are driven by the trials of working in a group, and how their personal issues effect the team as a whole.  Working together, growing together, it’s a great display of how great teams don’t really just come together in one go.  When they’re all on the same page, they kill it.  When they’re feeling off, it shows.  Each character has a back story that provides personal challenges, and I liked that.

It’s okay if you’re late to jump on the Voltron bandwagon, it’s worth the leap.  No matter where you’re coming from, no matter how much or how little Voltron universe knowledge you have, this show is freaking funny, family friendly, but not quite a kiddie show.  Basically, you’ve gotta watch it.

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Voltron: Legendary Defender has all three seasons streaming currently on Netflix.  Season four comes out in October this year, HOORAY.

What reboot, remake, or revival are you looking forward to this year?

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