TV Review: Voltron: Legendary Defender
Updated: May 29, 2019
In an all-new series, five unlikely heroes and their flying robot lions unite to form the mega-powerful Voltron and save the galaxy." Alright Netflix and Dreamworks decided back in January to announce they were rebooting the classic cartoon from the 80’s and launching it in a 13-episode season on June 10th. I thought I was going to explode to be honest that something I loved was being rebooted and that a good company was behind it.
Dreamworks Animation come on (Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon) how can you deny their past history and success. Then it hit me about the whole reboot/remake because they never hold true to the original or seems to pay homage enough. There is always that difference between original and reboot and the reboots usually seem to fail or get their share of flak (Ghostbusters #toosoon?)
Now I admit it has been a large number of years since I last watched a Voltron cartoon. But this series pulled me back in and I binged the whole thing in just a couple days. Now the voice actors was a pleasant mix of voice actor experts and some rookies. Rookies include Steven Yeun as Keith (of Walking Dead fame), Tyler Labine as Hunk (Reaper, Breaker High), Rhys Darby as Coran (comedian, @midnight), Bex Taylor as Pidge (Scream, The Killing). The experienced ones being Jeremy Shada as Lance (Adventure Time), Josh Keaton as Shiro (Green Lantern TAS), Kimberly Brooks as Allura. Frankly, my favorite was Rhys Darby as Coran I think he was absolutely perfect and I’ve always enjoyed his appearances on the shows I’ve watched.
Now Voltron Legendary Defender is a completely separate entity from Voltron Force that came out in 2011. Force concentrated on a different set of characters whereas Legendary Defender is a retelling of the original story almost much in the same way Thundercats was revisited in 2011. There are a lot of throwbacks to the original series with the look of the battle suits and even the look of the lions and Voltron itself whereas Force took things in a much different direction with the visuals.
The story is episodic in nature with a plot in every episode but with a main story arc going throughout the series as well. They kept the previous villains from the original as well Zarkon and Haggar who constantly try to capture the Voltron lions whenever possible. It is nice that they went to the beginning and told the story as to how the group came back together as well. To the point where it shows initially they can’t get along and grow to become the Paladins of Voltron. They even have a small arc where Pidge contemplates leaving the group to find her family. (And yes I said her, there is a nice little subplot and a single character genderbend which works)
The animation of the show is beautiful and clean and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Dreamworks. I’ve enjoyed all the of the Dreamworks movies I have seen in past. They kept the style from the original to a certain point just with some updated palettes and a lot cleaner lines. They really kept things simple in comparison which is one of the things I love about it. They didn’t turn around and make it look like something crazy like a Final Fantasy: Spirits Within and just really left it along the same lines as the original.
Watching a lot of the scenes make me feel almost like I’m watching the original in HD including some of the transitions and effects are extremely nostalgic like when they are getting into the lions and when they show the shock of the characters when they jump and skip frames instead of smooth animations.
The smaller things like the background and ambient music and even the little quick comedic bits pull the rest of this series together. It gave me the final bit of nostalgia while watching the show. The sounds at time give me an 8-bit MIDI sound to it while others were a little more crisp and clean when needed. The odd jokes and jabs between the team or between Allura and Coran aren’t overdone at all they are pretty corny and cheesy bits of comedy most of the time but they were back in the 80’s as well.
I had a great time watching and enjoying this particular series. I was pretty excited when I heard it was coming to Netflix in the first place. Great in the fact that I could binge it like I have done with a number of other shows they have released. This is probably one of the few reboots that I think have been done well but yet it stands alone on its own as well. For a younger generation they can be introduced to a cartoon that some of us as parents enjoyed when we were younger as well. I expect a second series/season with how they left it at the end of this particular series and I would have no problems watching it at all.
If you watched this as a child, then I think you really ought to give this new rework or retelling of the story a chance. I think anyone that was a fan of the show will see the throwbacks and feel some of the nostalgia from the original and will enjoy it thoroughly. Hell if you haven’t what can it hurt to watch 13 episodes that come in at like 22 minutes or so. That is like the just over the length of any PPV that you might watch or a pair of movies. If you give it the 3-episode rule to make your decision I don’t think you will put it down.
4.0 Beards out of 5