Since the launch of Godzilla (2014), the production company Legendary Entertainment, one of those responsible for the works of the Monsterverse franchise — one must also consider the partnerships with Toho, in the production of works that feature the lizard; and Warner, in distributing the films — made it clear that they would like to experiment with their themes in numerous media. And in fact, in addition to cinema, the brand has already licensed gamescomics and books, closing the creation cycle with two TV series launched in 2023: the first, Skull Island, by Netflix; and the second, Monarch – Legacy of Monsterson Apple TV+.
In the animated version of the project, we have Brian Duffield in the central role of the entire creative process, acting as writer, creator, executive producer, director and showrunner from the program. In a consortium between Legendary Television, Powerhouse Animation and Tractor Pants Productions, one of the objectives of this animation is to establish thematic terrain for the events of Godzilla X Kong: The New Empire (2024), and does so with some narrative competence and good visual constitution, although it ends in a reticent and frustrating way. The plot takes place in the 1990s, with two groups of navigators with very different intentions and weapons, placed on the trail of a teenager named Annie, and isolated on Skull Island.
In terms of adventure with the kaiju, the series fulfills its role acceptably. Even the way the human core is presented, in the premiere episode (Maritime Pilot), draws the viewer’s attention and creates strong tension and curiosity regarding what is actually happening. The mysteries surrounding Annie, the group of military navigators and the young characters (Charlie and Mike), who stand out with great ease, manage to make the series worthwhile from the beginning, and even if we later have problems with the ending of these same parts (or with the role of editing in the first two episodes, which have terrible moments), we are not faced with something so bad that it takes away interest in the show or really ruin the whole experience. But there is frustration with the direction of the plot, oh, there is.
Perhaps the melodramatic side of the script is the worst thing it has in development. There is something of “Mexican soap opera“, in the relationship between Annie and Irene that weakens all nearby sequences, and the alternation between exaggerated family whining and what really matters — the drama of survival plus the fight against the most absurd monsters possible — ends up irritating the viewer. Still, it is worth highlighting the good interaction between comical and tense parts, especially in the dramatic line of the younger characters, in addition to Annie’s fantastic interaction with her “dog” and the charm that some other characters have in the face of the deadly and exuberant nature of island. If the text focused exclusively on these elements, we would certainly have a more fun and memorable season, most likely with an ending that didn’t seem done anyway.
O cliffhanger for a possible second season appears abruptly, followed by a climax that greatly needed a period of adaptation of the consequences; and, even worse, with isolation of a main character, completely ignoring everyone else. If the final episode, You’ll Never Catch a Monkey That Way, there is something good, this is just the fight between King Kong and the ocean creature and the tense scenes on Skull Island. The way the creator and writer decided to end the season, however, ruins much of what was done before and presents a cliffhanger that throws the series into a different order, taking Annie away from the element that actually makes sense here (Skull Island), trying to create a “It is made Lost” which causes us immense shame. Luckily for us, there is kaijufight and chases enough to make us happy throughout the 8 chapters, as well as notable moments of the human core (which is a recurring problem in this type of production) and good flashbacks of context. A good season with a bad ending, but a development worth appreciating.
Skull Island – Season 1 – USA, 2023
Creation: Brian Duffield
Direction: Willis Bulliner, Daniel Araya, Amanda Sitareh B., Julie Olson
Road map: Brian Duffield
Cast (voices): Nicolas Cantu, Mae Whitman, Darren Barnet, Benjamin Bratt, Phil LaMarr, Betty Gilpin, John DiMaggio, Mara Junot, Trevor Devall, Yuki Matsuzaki, Sunil Malhotra, Fryda Wolff, Ian James Corlett, Tania Gunadi, Alejandra Reynoso, Charlie Townsend
Duration: 8 episodes, about 25 min. each one.