Schools Out For Spyro As The Skylanders Academy Animated Series Comes To Netflix

There’s a lot of children present as I sit down in a small theatre to watch Skylanders Academy – it’s half term which explains why they’re not in school in the middle of the day – and from the chorus of voices that answer when asked whether they’re excited to see the first episode, it’s clear that they’re all fans of the games.

This is Activision Blizzard’s first crack at producing their own TV or film, taking their blockbusting Toys To Life game series and bringing it to the small screen in this instance. The entire season is going to end up on Netflix on Friday, with eleven episodes in its first season.

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It’s a bit unusual that the series focuses so much on Spyro (Justin Long) as the hero. He was the foremost character in the first game’s marketing, but soon slid into the background as more and more characters were added to the series’ roster and others came to the fore. Spyro’s the main character, but he’s joined by fellow students Stealth Elf (Ashley Tisdale) and Eruptor (Jonathan Banks), with Master Eon (Chris Diamantopoulos) as their mentor.

Spyro just comes off as a bit of a jerk with a vastly overinflated ego. Sure, he got the highest ever score on the entrance exam, but he’s just been coasting since then. Too busy skywriting, taking selfies for new students – which are 100% of Spyro and include none of the students – and partying. He’s late for classes, and even the final exam that he must pass in order to become a true Skylander. He’s actually a bit unlikeable, which wasn’t something I was expecting.

On the other hand, that just gives him a heck of a lot of growing up to do. In this first episode alone, he’s given one hell of a reality check, before having to understand and come to terms with the fact that he isn’t the best there ever was and that he needs to play nice and work with his friends to defend the Skylands from evil.

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That evil? Well it’s Kaos (Richard Steven Horvitz), of course, flanked by his loyal servant Glumshanks (Norm Macdonald). It’s a kind of Pinky & The Brain partnership, if Brain was an awful lot more capricious – the first thing he does is chuck a cup of boiling water in Glumshanks’ face – and Pinky was the downtrodden straight man instead of the brainless comic relief.

I love Glumshanks. He has to put up with so much crap, and at every step he knows that Kaos’ plan is just going to end in failure again. I think it comes as a bit of a surprise that this one – to steal the all powerful Book of Skylanders – actually seems to be working. It certainly comes as a bit of a surprise to Kaos, who dillies and dallies long enough for Spyro to get his act together and learn something from his recent trials and tribulations. It’s alright though, because he already has a new plan for the next episode.

Are Spyro and pals off to a flying start? It’s certainly nicely animated, with a strong cast of actors, a steady stream of silly humour, and more than a few references back to the games, but as an adult without too much investment in the Skylanders series, this is clearly not aimed at me and I could pick holes at the pacing of the story. The kids in the audience certainly enjoyed it though, and that’s what really matters.

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1 Comment

  1. Nit to happy with how Spyro sounds but looking forward to watching this.

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