Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ThunderCats (2011) Review

If you read the next paragraph and understand completely what I’m getting at with it, you’re more than welcome to click the “Back” button and go check out other like-minded folk such as Slacker and the Man or Nerdy Show. Because if you get the references, then you’ll have the review completely summed up in a few lines. Ready? Go:

The new Thundercats show is to the old one what “The Ultimates” is to “The Avengers”. Imagine Lion-O and the crew as written by Brian Michael Bendis. Or if J Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis were put in charge of Thundera. Yeah, exactly. That’s what you’re walking in to here.

Now, if you read that and are thinking, “What in the f--” -ollow me for the rest of this and I’ll explain everything, I promise.

I can’t state enough that if you’re expecting the new Thundercats show to be just like the old with a fresh coat of graphic paint and some updated slang thrown in just to sound cool for the kids, then know now that’s not what you’re getting here at all. The original series featured Lion-O, Panthro, and the gang stranded on “Third Earth”, battling Mumm-Ra and the Mutants. Now? Much different, as the ThunderCats are actually--

Okay, hold on. I suppose I should disclose there will be MINOR SPOILERS as we go on. Nothing that will ruin the show or anything, mind you; matter of fact, everything in the next paragraph is all revealed in the first hepisode as set-up. Anything past that (as we’re now five episodes in) will only hinted at so I don’t ruin anything for you. You know, a new study has revealed that, even if I did spoil some of it for you, you wouldn’t mind. But I won’t do that. You’re welcome. Digression over.

The ThunderCats are actually on Thundera. No “crash landing on Third Earth” or any of that. Lion-O’s father, Claudus, is still alive. So is Jaga. And Tygra is his older brother. They’re both heir to the throne of Thundera, with Lion-O somehow first in line (despite the fact that he’s the younger of the two). Oh, and another change that makes the new show worth checking out almost by itself? Snarf doesn’t talk. At all. Even characters like Grune and Jaga are given character overhauls here, and every bit of it serves a point.

I could list of all the different changes made from then to now until people actually get sick of the Kardashians, but that wouldn’t begin to explain what’s going on with ThunderCats. Rather than a “reboot”, this is a complete reimagining of the series and its mythos. Executive producer Sam Register, and producers by Ethan Spaulding and Michael Jelenic (writer of Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam and producer for Batman: The Brave and the Bold) have taken great care to honor the combined elements of fantasy and sci-fi the original brought to the table. However, in keeping that flavor, they have re-written the book on these characters. No one could have imagined, 27 years ago, the depth and power these characters were capable of. All it took was putting them in a setting that was familiar to them, but one we had never seen before.

And that’s exactly what ThunderCats comes down to. Taking familiar elements and re-presenting them as if we’re seeing them for the first time. Preserving classic elements of the original show, yet turning other aspects of it completely on its ear. If you’re among the purist type and can’t stand the thought of seeing Chetara, Panthro, Slithe and the rest of the old gang tampered with, think of this as “what could have been”. What if the ThunderCats stayed on Thundera instead of being pursued by the Mutants and winding up crash-landing on Third Earth?

The answer: much more epic than we could have imagined. Tobin "Ted" Wolf would be proud of what’s become of his creations.

Then again, he may have seen this crew and given up on the whole thing.

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