Thursday, July 30, 2009


This week saw a gigantic DVD release of epic importance in the sci-fi/action genre. I don't mean the final movie in the Fast and Furious quadrilogy, I'm not talking about the Drangonball:Evolution DVD, I don't even mean the final season of Battlestar Galactica came out. I mean VOLTRON: FLEET OF DOOM! This is the legendary meeting of the two Voltrons! It's so legendary I didn't even know what it was when I saw it on the shelves at Best Buy. Honestly I've never even seen it before and didn't know it was coming out. I think that's partly because this 44 minute "movie" is the Voltron equivalent of the Star Wars Holiday Special. The Voltron media overlords haven't exactly tried to keep its awfulness hidden and suppressed but they weren't in a rush to get it out there either. Last night over dinner I was telling my wife I needed to seriously do this Voltron movie post I've been meaning to do because people everywhere will be clamoring to find out about it! Then she spit all her food on the table laughing because she said using "Voltron" and "serious" in the same sentence was an oxymoron. I FORGET SHE IS NERUO-TYPICAL.

WARNING: Roboplasticos on your TV are larger and more colorful than they appear here


That Media Basters put this out on a wide release DVD is a big deal because "FLEET OF DOOM" hasn't been available at brick and mortar stores before and this release is different from the previous online exclusive DVD which got pretty bad reviews. Aside from problems with the quality of the cartoon, what really irked some people was how the first FLEET OF DOOM didn't work in older DVD players. Even DVD players hated it. But this time around those problems have been overcome and there's even a 5.1 track on it. It looked really good with crisp, vibrant colors when I watched it and even the normal stereo track I used sounded great. Before I start I need to make clear that I'm only a casual Voltron fan and I'm not much of a DVD reviewer either, so this is going to be a really unprofessional post with mostly uninformed opinions and some poorly taken low resolution pictures I shot with my camera on the wrong color and brightness settings. Pretty much the same crap I always do. Also in the interest of full disclosure: I still don't own any Voltron toy robots.

WARNING: Contains four times the recommended daily allowance of Peter Cullen


It is necessary to understand FLEET OF DOOM's place in the pantheon of Voltronology if one is to understand why it falls short of greatness. I wrote before about how excited I was that Media Blasters released the original uncut GoLion-the series that got edited and dubbed to make the first season's worth of lion Voltron episodes. Unlike those early lion episodes, FLEET OF DOOM isn't a re-editing of a pre-existing Japanese animation. The vehicle and lion Voltrons were never in the same cartoon in Japan because they were two entirely separate series when they first started out there. FLEET OF DOOM's storyline was written by the American writing team at World Events Productions, but then they left the scripting and animation to the Japanese animation studio. It's a combination of combining robot cartoons that took the combined efforts of people over two continents. It's production rivals the complexity of building the large hadron collider, and like the large hadron collider it will leave you wondering if turning it on was a good idea.

Worship at the altar of Cullen voiced characters!
The best way I can explain it is let's say someone made a television show out of spliced footage of T.J. Hooker episodes and lots of commercials. Then they got everyone together to do a brand new original 44 minute super episode where T.J. Hooker and the Priceline negotiator team up and half the cast was William Shatner. That's exactly what FLEET OF DOOM is, except Shatner is Peter Cullen. I know what you're thinking-How can you go wrong when half the cast is Peter Cullen? Plus it's Voltron! How can you go wrong with TWO Voltrons? How is FLEET OF DOOM not the Citizen Kane of combining space lions and spaceships space operas in space? Well the problem is a) the Voltrons are barely even in this at all and b) the other half of the cast is not also Peter Cullen.

Lotor ponders whether his dynotherms are connected and his mega thrusters are indeed "go"


Unfortunately FLEET OF DOOM is not 44 minutes of two Voltrons being doomed by various fleets, like all Voltron cartoons it is instead 43 minutes of humans and aliens coming to grips with their emotional problems and crap like that, plus one minute of Voltrons and fleet dooming. This is why Voltron is not taken seriously. This is why Voltron totally dropped the ball in the genre of cartoons with multicolored combining space robots made up of public transportation vehicles and/or robot zoo animals. Damnit, I don't care if Hagar the witch wishes she was pretty again or Commander Keith wet the bed when he was little, JUST GIVE ME VOLTRONS AND FLEETS WITH LOTS OF DOOM! If they wanted to do drama and add emotional weight to the story they could have given Lion Voltron the space rabies and have vehicle Voltron put him down. Damnit stop trying to be Saturday morning Shakespeare and just give me the roboplastic apocalypse already!


As far as DVD extras, FLEET OF DOOM contains the first episodes of lion and vehicle Voltron, plus a two minute 'bloopers' reel. Instead of bloopers it's really a series of short comparisons between finished and unfinished animation sequences. They'll show a brief scene as it originally aired then follow that by the same scene but with some animation elements missing or altered. It's not really bloopers as in "ha ha funny mistakes", it's more like "ha ha boy if you thought the animation sucked now you should see how bad it really was before we fixed it".

What should have happened was the lightning was white, but once it was blue! Hilarious!


The only appeal here is the novelty of having this previously super-rare chapter of Voltron history on a DVD that actually plays in DVD players. Even then it's hard to recommend-the story takes so long with setup that nobody even forms Voltron until over half an hour into the 44 minute feature. They spent most of the time with the lion team's human characters and villains so it feels like a lion force cartoon with a cameo by the vehicle guys and not a true two Voltron movie. Getting the two Voltrons together is an ambitious idea but 44 minutes was not enough to do justice to all the human and alien subplots and still have time for lots of robot lion and spaceship battles. This should have been a 5 part miniseries like GI Joe so the characters could be fully explored while letting the Voltrons see some action in all their forms. For $14.99 it's too much, especially for such poor quality animation. The final climactic battle with both Voltrons looked so poorly animated it was like I was watching someone reading a Voltron comic book or playing a Voltron RPG or just flashing storyboards on the screen. It would have been nice if FLEET OF DOOM were an extra on the Voltron series DVDs. Heck, it would have been nice if it was a cartoon that had some actual animated Voltrons in it!


Weasel said...

I think that's why I could never get into Voltron: too damn many squishies and way too much angst. It's not for lack of trying either; I gave Voltron multiple chances on Toonami and just wasn't impressed. Even the promise of Peter Cullen could not hold my interest. (And this is someone who watched the Sonny and Cher show on TV Land just to catch a brief glimpse of Mr. Cullen!)

Though now that you've told the world about this, I'm pretty damn sure Prime is going to hunt this thing down. The he'll make me watch it. :grumble:

Evil King Macrocranios said...

It's just funny seeing the Optimus Prime voice come from something other than a fifty foot robot. I would like to see Cullen do a scene where Voltron narrator introduces Commander Hawkins driving Optimus Prime. Has anybody asked Cullen to do something that dumb at a panel yet? They've already asked him if he reads Optimus Prime/Megatron slashfic so I figured it's possible.


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