Last Kids on Earth (Book 3): The Apocalypse Levels Up – Netflix Animation Review

This show keeps changing and that’s a good thing.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free for Season 3)

Jack Sullivan (Nick Wolfhard) is a teenager and one of the only survivors of an apocalypse that brings forth a horde of zombies and eldritch monsters. He soon joins up with his tech genius best friend Quint (Garland Whitt), former bully Dirk (Charles Demers), and his crush and ace warrior June (Montserrat Hernandez) in order to start taking out the bigger threats and make the apocalypse more bearable. They’re joined by the mutant dog Rover (Brian Drummond). Soon, they find out that other sentient monsters were pulled into our world, including the expert hunter Skaelka (Catherine O’Hara), wizard Bardle (Mark Hamill), chef… Chef (Bruce Campbell), and leader Thrull (Keith David). Thrull soon betrays the group in order to summon the dark goddess Rezzoch (Rosario Dawson), but Jack and crew manage to stop him. The world is a little bit safer, but Rezzoch is now looking for a new way in, and she will stop at nothing.

Admittedly, Rezzoch looks like Rorschach, which adds to the creepiness.

END SUMMARY

When this show first came out, I compared it to the other then-recent “kids in the apocalypse” show, Daybreak. Well, this show has now gotten two more seasons with awesome new regulars while Daybreak got cancelled, so I guess we know who won. Honestly, I wish they’d continued both, but I admit that this show has kept things fresh as it keeps going. 

Adding Keith David as a behemoth was a good choice.

A big part of why it still works is that they’ve given each of the characters deeper arcs that expand on their initial characterization. Jack gamifies the world and tries to make everyone happy because he is afraid of being left behind. June keeps people at a distance because she’s focused on her missing family. Dirk, who is accustomed to being the biggest guy around, now finds himself outclassed by the monsters and wants to regain his position. Quint is nervous about keeping everyone happy because he thinks people only want him for what he can do, not who he is. These feel like real people with real flaws and their interactions are all heightened by desperation. 

They really only work as a team.

The monsters are also amazing. They’re simpler characters in some ways, each mostly matching a traditional fantasy archetype, but that makes it all the more interesting when they reveal something that subverts your expectations. The fact that they all have great voice actors is a huge bonus. The show has used the fact that their main characters are mostly genre savvy as a way to work in pop culture references, but with the presence of actual sci-fi/fantasy/horror legends on the cast, you knew that some in-jokes were made. Campbell and Hamill have a great interaction in this season that made me laugh for a solid minute only because it was the joke that had to be made. 

Though O’Hara gets some good lines, too.

Overall, solid series for kids and adults, glad it’s still going.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – Last Kids on Earth (Book 2): The Apocalypse Gets Complicated

The kid-friendly apocalypse returns with Keith David, Bruce Campbell, and Mark Hamill.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Book 1)

It was a normal day, up until a bunch of portals to other dimensions opened up and allowed a number of nightmarish horrors onto the Earth… or at least around Wakefield, Indiana. Zombies, mutant insects, giant eldritch abominations, you name it, it’s destroying the town. Many people escaped, many more were turned into zombies, but four kids were trapped in the town: Video gamer and natural leader Jack Sullivan (Nick Wolfhard), bully and strongman Dirk Savage (Charles Demers), action girl June Del Toro (Montserrat Hernandez), and tech nerd Quint Baker (Garland Whitt). Together with their pet mega-dog Rover, they managed to defeat the giant alpha monster Blarg.

LKoE - 1Blarg
Blarg’s the big one.

Now, the four have to deal with the fact that there are a number of humanoid and sentient monsters who have come here from other dimensions who are trying to find their way home. They’re led by the warrior Thrull (Keith David) and include such members as the Chef (Bruce Campbell), the gruff Bardle (Mark Hamill “Applause”), and the deadly Skaelka (Catherine O’Hara). Unfortunately, it seems that an evil being called Rezzoch (Rosario Dawson), is also trying to find her way to Earth.

END SUMMARY

I have to give the show credit for completely changing the structure of the show during the second season. First off, the show is now made up of episodes rather than just a single film. This gives the show more time to do subplots and b-plots which help when you have a cast of this size, particularly now that there are other characters they can interact with. Second, rather than just being a survival story in the dystopia, now the characters have a set of goals involved in preventing the arrival of Rezzoch. 

LKoE - 2Chef
Bruce Campbell handles apocalyptic evil like a champ.

The four person group dynamic is an old one and it plays out well here. They map roughly onto the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles model, with the leader (Jack), the “does machines” guy (Quint), the cool but rude (June), and the idiot (Dirk). I also appreciate that they have a lot of moments where they each step outside of their expected model. They also do play up some more of the realities of being teenagers who are now living in the apocalypse, even though they are still handling it better than most people would.

LKoE - 3Charge
Most people wouldn’t charge the building-sized monster on foot.

Overall, it’s a pretty solid show… also, it has Keith David, Mark Hamill, and Bruce Campbell.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – Daybreak/The Last Kids on Earth: Two Takes on the Same Idea

Netflix decided to apparently green-light two shows, one for kids, one not, based around the idea that the world ended and left only the young.

SUMMARY

Daybreak

The bombs went off and it turns out that they didn’t kill everyone. They just killed most of the adult population and some of the kids. Many of the adults were turned into “Ghoulies,” basically zombies that repeat the last mundane thoughts of their former selves, but a few have become more monstrous abominations. Our protagonist, Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford) is a high-schooler with a lot of survival skills that have made him successful during the apocalypse. Together with supergenius Angelica Green (Alyvia Alyn Lind) and Samurai/Jock Wesley Fists (Austin Crute), he seeks to survive the end of the world and rescue his dream girl Samaira Dean (Sophie Simnett), who is actually pretty badass in her own right.

Daybreak - 1Group.jpg
Also, the wisecracking jerk with a heart of some metal.

The Last Kids on Earth

A bunch of portals opened up on Earth and it turns out that they didn’t kill everyone. They just killed most of the adult population and some of the kids. Many of the adults were turned into Zombies, which are zombies and I don’t need to explain further, but there are also more monstrous abominations. Our protagonist, Jack Sullivan (Finn Wolfhard) is a middle-schooler with a lot of survival skills that have made him successful during the apocalypse. Together with supergenius Quint Baker (Garland Whitt) and Barbarian/Jock Dirk Savage (Charles Demers), he seeks to survive the end of the world and rescue his dream girl June Del Toro (Montse Hernandez), who is actually pretty badass in her own right.

Daybreak - 2Group
… Not entirely unfamiliar.

END SUMMARY

So, I’m sure I’m not the only one that has pointed out that these are pretty much the same show, but for different age groups. Both shows include a heavy amount of fourth-wall breaking narration not only by the protagonist but also by the side characters and deuteragonists, both shows include a number of references to other media to shortcut their world-building, and both shows literally make a reference to gamifying the apocalypse. Not that either of these are the first things to do any of those, but I find it odd that both series came out only a month or so apart and have so many similarities.

Daybreak - 3Enemies.png
Although, only one show does the traditional “people are the real monsters” arc.

That said, in most other aspects, the shows are wildly different. Obviously, the biggest is that one is live-action and the other is animated, and, ironically, the animated one is adapted from a book while the live-action one is derived from a graphic novel. One is only a single episode so far lasting 60 minutes, while the other is ten 40-50 minute episodes. One is for mature audiences, containing intense gore and cannibalism, and one is for kids, featuring more cartoonish violence (though more than I would have expected). The monsters in Daybreak are either mutated animals or more humanoid aberrations, like the “Witch” Ms. Crumble (Krysta Rodriguez) and Mr. Burr (Matthew Broderick), while the monsters in The Last Kids on Earth range from Kaiju to Eldritch abominations to mutant squirrels (okay, that’s the same). It’s like watching two different people take the same elevator pitch and expand it. 

Daybreak - 4Principal
One series has Ferris Bueller as a principal, which is pretty good.

So, here’s my review of each of the shows individually. 

Daybreak

Pretty well done. The acting is great, particularly Matthew Broderick and Colin Ford. It has a great sense of humor about itself, such as naming the main character’s love interest Sam Dean, after the leads in Supernatural, a show where Colin Ford played a younger version of the main characters (I’m told that didn’t happen in the comic). The idea of each of the high-school cliques evolving into roving rival gangs was pretty fun, particularly as you observe their interactions, though it drops away as the plot becomes more focused on a central antagonist. It’s a little flashback heavy at times and definitely a little exposition heavy, but it’s still entertaining. The biggest problem is Josh’s plotline being focused solely on finding his ex-girlfriend, something that becomes increasingly ridiculous as the stakes keep raising on everyone else. It also contains a lot of the same tropes that you’d expect from an apocalypse setting, with some working and some not. Still, I enjoyed the series. 

Daybreak - 5Cheermazons
Cheermazons are a thing.

That said, having now researched the comic a little, I found out that the series is set in the first-person, something that would have been super interesting for a high-school post-apocalypse series like this. Admittedly, it would probably have gotten old quickly, but I still kind of want to see it. 

The Last Kids on Earth

Also pretty well done, though short. The monsters are creative and the main character is believably flawed. It also contains a lot of shots of the main characters trying to find some comfort and enjoyment in the apocalypse, like turning various acts into “achievements” complete with video game symbols. It also helps that, while the main character is good at surviving, the “damsel” he aims to rescue is far superior at combat. Also, he’s a total stalker. While the protagonist of Daybreak is looking for his girlfriend, the love interest in this is someone that Jack Sullivan just has a crush on. Still, he’s a middle schooler, so it’s a little bit forgivable. 

Daybreak - 6REcording
He’s not super smart, but he has… heart?

Both of these are pretty good and I would recommend checking them both out. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.