This is the Voltron series we've been waiting for our entire nostalgic adult lives.
A lot of shows from my childhood have been "rebooted," and more are on the way, but this is one of the few that really nailed the tone and feel of the original while updating the story and animation beautifully. Voltron Legendary Defender from Netflix and DreamWorks is a near-perfect thrill ride for kids and adults.
The pilot episode sets the stage perfectly and I looooove doing the extended pilot. The first thing you'll fall for with this update is the animation. It's crisp, fluid and incredibly well done. It smacks of Avatar: The Last Airbender in the best way possible. You can see the anime influences but they aren't heavy enough to be off-putting to the "I don't like anime" crowd.
The landscapes, scope and size of the lions and the ships are really well done. The individual lions all have VERY distinct looks as do our pilots/paladins. The personalities of the pilots matching up with the personalities of the lions is also a fun touch. The CGI portions of the show aren't overdone and they don't force it where it doesn't belong.
You can tell the animators working on this series have a real love of the source material.
Which brings me to the second thing to gush over about this reboot - the characters and voice acting. WOW. I mean, sure, it's a pretty bang-up cast to begin with featuring The Walking Dead's Steven Yeun, Flight of the Conchords' Rhys Darby, Reaper's Tyler Labine, Arrow's Bex Taylor-Klaus and a slew of all star voice actors like Josh Keaton, Kimberly Brooks and Keith Ferguson. But the way they all mesh together, how perfectly the lines are delivered? Could not have seen that coming.
I decided to highlight four of these, in the interest of brevity. The standout from the cast is Lance, our Blue Lion paladin, voiced by Adventure Time star Jeremy Shada, who voices Finn. Shada does an incredible job with Lance as the butt of the jokes but also to certain extent, the impetus that gets our story going. Lance is equal parts warrior and goof and Shada captures both well. Rhys Darby is a genius as Coran. His comedic timing is unreal and his delivery is uncanny. Darby doesn't fall short on emotion when the scene calls for it and gives his character a very complete feel.
Tyler Labine IS Hunk. I mean...I can't think of more perfect casting. And then there is Josh Keaton. Keaton has been a voice in so many incredible projects cut short too soon (Spectacular Spider-Man, Green Lantern) and is wonderful here as Shiro, the leader of Voltron. HE FORMS THE HEAD YOU GUYS. Keaton does excellent as a man struggling with his own identity while leading a team searching for their own. I could go on all day about this voice cast, because they deserve it.
I refuse to give away the plot, but full credit needs to be given to writers Tim Hedrick, May Chan and Joshua Hamilton. This trio is responsible for all 13 episodes in season 1 and it absolutely COOKS. The pacing is very well done and to beat a robotic lion into the ground, the dialogue is what really makes this series stand out. Without weighing new viewers down, we still get large chunks of Voltron mythology.
If I had to nit-pick anything, it would be that every time Voltron is formed, the transformation is shown. It may seem like a really small thing, but it bogs down the pace of the otherwise sizzling fight scenes and feels unnecessary by about episode 5.
Otherwise, my only critique is having to wait for season 2, because this felt WAY too short.
FINAL RATING: 9.5/10
Season 1 of Netflix and DreamWorks' Voltron Legendary Defender brings it. Get a bowl of sugary cereal, sit down and prepare to be nostalgic. This is Saturday morning cartoon love at it's finest. A near perfect effort in season 1 has me already jonesing for season 2, 3 and beyond.