Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix Review

Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix is now streaming on Netflix.

It’s difficult to know what to expect from a show like Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix. An animated series dropping versions of characters from Assassin’s Creed, Rayman, Watch Dogs 2, and Rainbow Six Siege into the retro-future dystopia of a Far Cry 3 expansion? The concept is ripe with potential. That’s because showrunner Adi Shankar, known for Netflix’s four-season Castlevania series, the Bootleg Universe, and the forthcoming Devil May Cry anime, understands the objective: make something that’s just as enjoyable for hardcore gamers as it is for binge-happy TV fans. The result: one helluva fun mashup that utilizes Ubisoft staples in endlessly unexpected ways and tees up what looks to be another winning video game-inspired series from Netflix.

Captain Laserhawk’s true appeal lies not in its dot-connecting and thread-weaving – which are both refreshingly unpredictable and clever by themselves – but in its need to experiment. Shankar employs a stylistic parkour that serves this kind of everything-goes storytelling well; one episode integrates – bear with me here – pixelated live-action footage to separate its timelines, eschewing standard signifiers of past and present like onscreen titles. It’s a small, simple example of that age-old storytelling rule: Show, don’t tell.

Then there’s the throwback aesthetic, which the creative team smartly treats as a binding agent for its many disparate elements. One sequence in particular temporarily forgoes traditional animation and harkens back to old RPGs by smashing Dolph Laserhawk (voiced by Nathaniel Curtis) and his lover, Alex Taylor (Boris Hiestand) down to 2D sprites. These shifts are fleeting and seamless, visual interruptions that make watching Captain Laserhawk a perpetually surprising and frequently thrilling experience.

But Shankar’s love for these characters – and the medium – is never more evident than when he’s showing us their places in this dystopian hellscape. The amphibious assassin Bullfrog (Balak) is the show’s best character by a healthy margin, and fans of the Assassin’s Creed games will notice many connections. Rayman (David Menkin) gets what may be the juiciest role: beloved celebrity-turned-disenchanted vigilante who realizes the system he helped build and sustain really couldn’t care less about him.

The writers manage to cover lots of ground in just six episodes, again showcasing Shankar’s knack for wrangling story and setting in a way that feels controlled but not restrictive. Rayman’s transformation alone could easily have been a multi-season arc, but instead it’s pushed along for a handful of episodes before exploding into something unhinged and fascinating.

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