DVD REVIEW: Voltron - The Final Battle
Nostalgic entertainment at its best...
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Some of my fondest memories as a kid growing up in the eighties was coming home from school to watch cartoons. Everyone had their favorite, be it He-Man or G.I. Joe. For me it was all about Voltron, specifically the Lion Force series that launched the franchise in 1984.
The 'toon appealed to me in many ways. There was the colorful (quite literally) cast of characters that embodied a wide range of stereotypes. You had the Voltron Force, or "good guys": Pidge, the brainy nerd; Hunk, the strong-man (let's face it, he was fat); Commander Keith, Lance and Sven, the charismatic pretty boys of the group (female fans had their pick); and the lovely Princess Allura (who I admittedly had a boy crush on). Then you had the Forces of Doom (bwahahaha), or the "bad guys": King Zarkon (who had an annoying habit of blaming others for his failures); his tyrannical son Prince Lotor (he had a thing for Princess Allura too); and Witch Haggar (cackling robeast creator extraordinaire).
But ultimately I watched Voltron for Voltron, the fully assembled super robot that kicked robeast butt on a daily basis. It was a formula, that despite being predictable, worked oh so well: 1) Introduce a new robeast threat, 2) Have our heroes battle the robeast in their individual Lions and fail, 3) Conclude with our heroes uniting as Voltron: form Blazing Sword, kill robeast, roll credits. The "Voltron formula" may have been the secret to the show's overall success, but as the new DVD - Voltron: The Final Battle - reminds me, the series actually did have a compelling, continuing storyline.
Releasing November 1st from Vivendi Entertainment, Voltron: The Final Battle acts as a great "best of" introduction to Lion Force Voltron. Included on the DVD's 195 minute running time are seven episodes that lead up to Voltron's epic first season conclusion. Originally aired way back in 1984 and digitally remastered for this DVD, these episodes include:
- The Captive Comet
- The Little Prince
- There Will Be a Royal Wedding
- Return of Coran's Son
- Zarkon Becomes a Robeast
- Lotor the King
- Final Victory
The episodes are all in chronological order, however a few "fluff" episodes in between have been omitted on this disc. Cut episodes consist of The Sand People, Voltron Frees the Slaves, Voltron vs. Voltron, One Princess to Another, The Mighty Space Mouse and Summit Meeting. What fans are left with are seven pivotal "To Be Continued" installments that no Voltron fan should miss.
Things kick off with a bang in The Captive Comet where King Zarkon harnesses the power of the Omega Comet to destroy Voltron's home panet of Arus. It is immediately clear that this episode does not follow the "Voltron formula". No robeasts are introduced and our usually victorious heroes are left for dead by the end of the show. Even though we all know Voltron lives, the fact that he's put down for the count just goes to demonstrate how radically different these collected episodes are.
Despite Voltron AND planet Arus taking a beating, the Voltron Force diligently fights on, eventually capturing a powerful Energy Cannon and taking the fight to planet Doom itself. As mentioned, there are some very pivotal episodes here, including King Zarkon's shocking fall from power (Zarkon Becomes a Robeast) and his traitorous son Lotor's crowning as the new ruler of Doom (Lotor the King). It all comes to a heated conclusion in the season one finale, Final Victory, where Voltron, the Flying Fortress (the Castle of Lions as a spaceship!) and even the Space Mice square off against Lotor and his evil minions on planet Doom.
"Bonus features" on this disc pretty much amount to commercials. There's the "Top 5 New Powers of Voltron Force," which briefly shows off Nicktoons' new animated series, and then there is "Blazing Sword Voltron," which advertises Mattel's San Diego Comic-Con exclusive (read our review HERE). The latter is especially odd seeing that this exclusive figure has long been sold out. This space would have been much better used to plug Mattel's new Club Lion Force and future Voltron figures (although a DVD insert does promote the 23" Voltron).
Voltron: The Final Battle is not the most comprehensive Voltron collection on the market today, nor was it meant to be. What this DVD does offer is a chance for old and new fans alike to rediscover the thrills of the original Lion Force Voltron (the BEST Voltron IMO) with what are arguably some of the best episodes produced. Priced as low as $10.99, Voltron: The Final Battle is nostalgic entertainment at its best and a great way to spend an evening. Form blazing sword!
Review by Jeff Saylor
Review Sample Courtesy of Vivendi Entertainment
Last edited by Malevolus; 11-01-2011 at 10:14 AM.