Monday, August 8, 2011

Putting the THUNDER Back in the 80's CATS

Well, I’m happy to be able to report that yet another “reboot” has been totally worth it. Cartoon Network has released a new version of the 80’s cartoon Thundercats. And it’s to purr about.

I liked the original show, but I wouldn’t say I’d been a true fan of it. But that doesn’t affect my opinion of how well it compares. For both Bart and Buttercup, who would count themselves among those enthralled with it, also really like this new take on it.

For one thing, the animation is superior. But that’s really no difficult task.

What I like best about the new Thundercats is that it begins further back in time. Nutshell: A handful of surviving Thundercats (including the heir to the throne) are forced to leave their planet of Thundera, only to be pursued and thwarted by the “villains” of other anthropomorphic animals as well as a mysterious and freaky mummy-like character named Mumm-Ra who wants the “Eye of Thundera” which is embedded in the Hero’s sword.

The first go around, we only briefly saw their home planet and knew virtually nothing about their ways, customs and culture. To be honest, this is one of the reasons it never really shined for me. I wanted that backstory to be able to care about the characters.

The second go at it, we (as I said) begin much earlier in the tale. Thus, providing a richer understanding. We even now see Lion-O’s (the Hero) father, the king. But in terms of making them more understood beyond cat-humans, this cartoon series has done something rather interesting. The Thundercats are not exactly the great beings we once thought them to be. It’s their kind (cats) that oppress the other animal-beings...hoarding the resources and enslaving them. They’re the bad guys in this one! Of course, Lion-O does not like this once he discovers the truth and speaks out against his father. Nothing really new here, as this is the same plot as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis from 1927. But it works rather well.

Another reason the original seemed a bit flat to me is that the “villains” (animal-based humans and Mumm-Ra) seemed arbitrary. They just were there, and hated the Thundercats, wanting that sword’s “eye.” Now there might be something I’m forgetting which helped explain them beyond “bad guys.” But even if it did, it had obviously not been memorable. Here, though, it’s different. We see that Mumm-Ra is an ancient evil once thwarted by the Thundercats and that the Eye belongs to him - once again painting the ‘cats to be not so stellar on their morals. I’ve already mentioned their abuse of the other creatures. There’s more to it than all this, fortunately, but I’m not going to bore you with it.

They’re also so much more cat-like than they were the first time, which only makes sense (and had bothered me before as well.) They’ve taken some liberties, such as making Tigra and Lion-O brothers, changing up relationships and such... but hey, it’s a reboot. It’s not supposed to be exactly the same. So far the changes are welcomed. The character design is such that they’re easily recognizable as their 80’s counterparts but they’re more sleek and tweaked just enough to be “new.”  Oh - they also gave the Thundercats - get this - THUNDER & lightning to use!  Cool.

Snarf 2011

80's Snarf

They even managed to keep the most annoying character, Snarf (annoying in voice [always saying 'Snarf Snarf'] and intrusiveness), and tone him down to something not so damned irritating.  (Reboot Snarf doesn't talk [as of yet that I've seen] beyond a version of his trademark 'snarf' but it doesn't sound the same.  The difference, for instance, between a cat's actual meow and our saying "meow.")

And so, because this version cares much more deeply about the story it would seem [even to the point of trying to make sense of one of the more ridiculous bits in the original: The Ro-Bear Berbils [cyborg bears with tufts of fur from their metal] by having a glimpse of them as a relic from a time of technology now thought to be mere myth, proven wrong when Mumm-Ra awakes and joins forces with the others who have been developing this mythical weaponry ever since...] ANYWAY, I’m liking it very much - mostly due to the bonus of actual storytelling this time!


ZZOzturk said...

I love it but I hate certain aspects. I really, really dislike the fact that snarf doesn't talk.

Also, the new Lion-o's voice seems so...weak compared to the old voice. I know the voice actors won't sound the same but Tigra was damn near perfect. They could have held out for a more Lion-o like Lion-o.

The BGMS don't thrill me. What gives me that Thundercats feeling are the sound effects (some of which they kept) and the BGMS. Even if they make whole new BGMS I would have a appreciated a little tip of the hat to the previous ones. Just a chord here and there.

I think the timeline needs to be more strongly defined. They never really say if this takes place before or after the original show. I think it must take place after for several reasons.

1) Lion-o's father says the sword was handed down from their great ancestors, the Thundercats. It could also explain why the characters have the same names. They could be named after their ancestors.

2) When the Thundercats first crashed into Third Earth the mutants arrived with them. Neither species is native to the planet. Only Mum-ra lived there. Since this neo-Thundera has mutants (that is, the Lizard men) living there then I assume they populated from a few members same as the Thundercats. (How they managed this I have no idea.

3) The previous Thundercats had great technology. (They had mastered space travel at least.) This story must be way, way into the future because, while technology, exists, it has been lost, since magic is much easier to access.

Overall I liked it very much. There's no way I wouldn't have given how much I loved the first series. I just would have changed a few little things.

Peter Von Brown said...

Well, I happen to know that IS earlier in time in the new show, from reading about it a year or so ago.

I have no idea what BGMS means, actually.

And I'd prefer it that Snarf weren't even in it.

The actor who did the voice of the original Lion-O is now playing the father.

As for all the other stuff... this is the reboot, mind you, it's a starting over with the same premise and making it something else along the same lines.

I just think this way is much better.

This is why they have chocolate and vanilla. Vanilla please.

Peter Von Brown said...

In other words, it's not "connected" to the original by any timeline or descendants. It's a RE-DO.