Monday, June 20, 2016

Voltron: Legendary Defender Reviewed

After almost forty years since Voltron was first formed, after watching the mighty robot trudge through one half-hearted remake after another, we are treated to an update of Voltron that is both mature and modern. Fun, funny and well-placed, Voltron: Legendary Defender succeeds where it's predecessors failed; by delving into its own lore, providing solid backstory and character development.




The following contains spoilers for the show.

Voltron has never been this cool. Epic battles in space, pulled straight from a Galaxy Far, Far Away? Check. Awkward and hilarious attempts at forming Voltron? Check. Deep, layered characters that feel both familiar and like old friends? Check, and that's truly where this revival is at its finest. The animation, while not on part with Pixar, conveys a tale of a universe under harsh oppression and a group of misfits forced together to do something about it.

The Gang's All Here!

Voltron Legendary Defender does not take itself so seriously that it forgets who it's original fans are, but this is a dark, cold universe.
Zarkon, once a hokey, ancillary antagonist, is now a brutal and horrifying reality. As the shows primary villain, he isn't just a name, or a faceless ruler of a merciless regime. He's a presence, felt in every episode and in every corner of this universe. His power is no more apparent than the moment he singlehandedly engages Voltron itself--and proceeds to rip the robot apart.

Witch Haggar and King Zarkon.

Keith and the others are together, but they're not a team yet. Shiro stands in for the doomed Sven, but his tenuous role as leader puts him the Black Lion. Keith, a young, headstrong maverick is paired with the Red Lion. This is not his team yet, and while Dreamworks is in no rush to get there, it will be his one day. Hunk has evolved from the tough guy with a heart of a gold to the jittery, anxious guy with a heart of gold. Lance's irascible relationship with Keith is intact, made more enjoyable by Keith's immaturity. Still flirting with (almost) anything female, Lance gets the Blue Lion--by opportunity, rather than assignment.

Lance's First Flight With The Blue Lion Goes Exactly As Planned.



Allura has undergone a drastic and welcome change. She is a woman out of time, who has lost everything to her enemy, and she is well-played by Kimberly Brooks (Mass Effect). Simultaneously a princess, a warrior, and a rebel, her conviction is without question as she commands the now-mobile Castle of Lions in her quest to take back the universe from Zarkon.
Speaking of remnants of Altea, Coran may have best been left in the past. The shows only misstep took the wise and somber elder and essentially reduced him to comic relief. Though he does grow on you, the jarring change in such a familiar and beloved character is alienating.

Dreamworks Animation and Netflix should be applauded for the new Pidge, who is now a woman living as a male, real name Katie. S/he is not doing this for the sake of being. She begins the story purely female, though her orientation is never explained or explored. She actually transitions in the show for reasons that drive her arc throughout the series, an arc that threatens the fragile unity of the team. Her coming out is handled masterfully, with hopeful optimism for the real world.

The new Pidge.


This first season is very much getting to know a new world, and the characters feel just as new as the viewers as they stretch their legs. The battles are fun, the action is wonderful, but it's strength in subtle advances in the plot, nuances in the characters and it's dedication to the universe Voltron is tasked with, this is where the revival shines.

It is not perfect. The iconic theme seems to be, sadly, a thing of the past. A key antagonist has yet to reveal himself, and we'd be curious to see how he fits in to this universe. The commentary when Voltron is actually formed is absent (though, to be honest, I never cared for that so much).

Loved By Good. Feared By Evil.


But it is the best version of Voltron to arrive since the original. I cannot wait to see where the second season goes.

Thanks for reading.


All Images are the copywritten property of Netflix and Dreamworks Animation. I do not own these.

Avery K. Tingle (aka The Gamer Author) is a nomadic multigenre author and martial artist currently residing in Eastern Washington. His works, called "Fast Paced and Thrilling" can be found for Kindle and Kobo.

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