Thursday, May 2, 2013

[Review] Voltron Force 2011 "The New School Defenders" Part 1

Voltron Force 2011

IMDB link

I'm sure if anyone still remembers the 1980s cartoon show Voltron,  but in this new series, eight years have passed since the events transpired from the first show. The gist, King Zarkon was defeated and Lotor was killed. Voltron was hailed triumphant until Sky Marshall Wade, a corrupt, Galaxy Alliance officer made sure the lions went rogue thus decommissioned. This begins the springboard of the first of the three-parter starting with

The New School Defenders 
Written by Todd Garfield
Directed by John Delaney
Story by Todd Garfield and Jeremy Corray
Supervising Director Steven E. Gordon

Flight academy cadets, Daniel and Vince gets a chance meet one of their Voltron heroes, Cmdr. Lance McClain after he singled them out for speaking out of turn in class in wanting to know about Voltron and the members. It was all Daniel spouting about Voltron and Vince was in for the ride for being guilty "by association" as Lance puts it. 

It was  a long standing order by Sky Marshall Wade that any mention of Voltron was grounds for a summary expulsion. When the two cadets finally learn the whole covert nature of Lance, Pidge and Hunk while maintaining to be the epitome of great soldiers, Vince and Daniel were immediately tasked to switch the keys found on Wade's uniform. Soon, half the mission was underway and Keith broke Black Lion out from Wade's military complex.

Me? What did I do? [Vince]
Guilt by association. [Lance]
When I first show the episode, I was quite excited and was really glad the premise of the show was set eight years after the events where the 1980's show left off. I really wasn't looking forward for a re-make.

The characters didn't look too cartoonish, although some of the aliens were but that's okay. We don't really like Predator-type look-a-likes littering around a kid show. Anyway, the character lines were clean. Unlike in some shows, where I found like the character went through an acid-wash procedure that the result was very distracting.

Everyone associated with Voltron (main characters and support,minors, old and new antagonists) sported an updated look. I was reduced to a pile of giggles when Lance found out Keith was still in mullet mode hairstyle. Was this a throwback for fans of the show? It was too funny. I'm glad he got a haircut. Right, cubbie? *wink*

The pacing of the story was good and tight. I thought it was a great touch to incorporate character close-up shots thus giving emphasis where it was need in the scene. I thought director Delaney did a good job in balancing areas where to have those close ups or not. I can't recall if I've seen the same type of direction in my other fave animation shows. So far this was the first one I've encountered being used here.

I particularly liked the moments where a scene splits to three or four panels showing simultaneous action in one go. It sent me back to watching 24. It was used judiciously, imo. I also felt if too much of the same thing in one space of time might bore a viewer/audience, which happened to me a lot when I watched 24. Sorry, fans of the show BUT I did thought it was cool technique when it was first introduced. I just prefer the technique not to be in every other scene in one ep. Going back to Voltron Force, dialogue was concise. I was chuckling at Lance's one-liners. He sure has cool lines and he can get away with it. There was one about the memory device (so you have to check WEP YouTube Channel for the episodes)  and if I miss any cheesy moments, my attention must have been drawn either to looking at the background shots or whatever else was happening in the scene. I tend to be like that whenever I watch a live-action TV show, animation or movie.
What kind of secret mission? [Daniel]
That kind that's secret. [Lance]
I also enjoyed seeing the updated look of the lions and a detailed look of the the cockpit too.
Keith in Black Lion's cockpit
The 3D elements integrated were very nice whenever a scene calls for it. I like when good ol' animation meets 3D environments are all meshing well.
Green Lion and Red Lion charging
Black Lion piloted by Keith escapes. 
Lastly, music. We have a new opening credit song that's contemporary to the times yet I find myself leaning back to the familiar and updated version of the 1980s Voltron theme music heard  during the end credit roll. Does anyone know what's the title of this theme song? Could it be something like Voltron March perhaps?

Next: "Defenders of Arus: Part 2


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