Adi Shankar has been at the center of many of Netflix’s adult animated series like the original Castlevania series and that continues with Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix. An adult animated series made in collaboration with Ubisoft (which is absolutely baffling), it takes place in a complete alternate reality set in 1992. The series was created by Shankar, directed by Mehdi Leffad, written by Shankar, Alex Larsen, Samuel Laskey, and Craig Coyne, and animated by Bobbypills.
A chaotic homage to 90s action, sci-fi, and the world of Ubisoft. In the series, the country formerly known as the USA is now called Eden, a technocracy ruled by propaganda and corruption where all dissent is stamped out. The protagonist of Captain Laserhawk is Super-soldier Dolph Laserhawk (Nathaniel Curtis), and he has just been betrayed by the love of his life, his boyfriend Alex Taylor (Boris Hiestand). Alone and locked up in Eden’s off-the-grid maximum security prison, Supermaxx, Dolph is forced to lead a team of rebel outcasts on risky undercover missions under the order of the prison’s shadowy Warden (Caroline Ford).
While there are many original characters in Captain Laserhawk, the series also brings out interesting alter egos of Ubisoft characters that range from weirdly heroic to absolutely living in a trashbin of life. As a whole, Captain Laserhawk uses properties like Assassin’s Creed, Splinter Cell, Far Cry, and other Ubisoft series by creating satirical gaming touchpoints and then using memorable elements from 90s cartoons and media like mechs and even more 90s action TV show staples like Tokusatsu references.
I have no idea how to sum up or describe Captain Laserhawk. I have been writing this review for this fever dream of a show for about a month now, and I still have no idea what I just watched. Violent, weird, and filled with just about every single easter egg for Ubisoft games you can think of, Captain Laserhawk is by far the weirdest thing I’ve seen all year, and for the life of me, I can’t decide where to rate it. In this work, Rayman (David Menkin) is a coke-addled drunk, a French Bullfrog (Yves Bigerel) is in the Brotherhood from Assassin’s Creed, and every single erratic piece of this narrative is something absolutely unique and unhinged.
I can’t call Captain Laserhawk bad, but at the same time, I’m not sure how effective the storytelling is when it seems more like a six-episode cauldron of gaming and 90s nostalgia. There is so much going on that it gets hard to track the narrative and the important characters and ultimately makes it easy to miss the forest for the trees. If anything, Ubisoft deserves a stunning amount of praise for giving Adi Shankar the keys and letting him drive wherever he wants, no matter how bad their characters look or what chaotic direction they swerve down.
That said, Captain Laserhawk is very clearly a passion project meant to call out to cartoons, anime, video games, and everything I assume creator Adi Shankar loves. But in making a love letter so specific to his own tastes, the erratic tone and narrative ping pong of the series makes it feel like it misses the average audience.
Captain Laserhawk may be absolutely unhinged, but there are moments where it really comes into its own, particularly in how it blends different animation styles to highlight different video moments and styles. The choice to change animation styles for certain sequences lets the narrative take hold in those specific moments and scale back from the bombastic nature of the comedy gags. Additionally, the inclusion of video game art in smaller moments that don’t have a large influence on the story like on a TV screen is also a highlight that sticks out.
Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix is a chaotic experience that has its foot on the gas pedal from episodes one to six and doesn’t let up. It’s impossible to predict where the story goes and who will show up next, leading every narrative development of the series to sweep in from left field. That erratic nature of development in the series is entertaining at the very least, even if you’re never really sure what you’re watching.
Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix is streaming now, exclusively on Netflix.
Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix
Captain Laserhawk: A Blood Dragon Remix is a chaotic experience that has its foot on the gas pedal from episodes one to six and doesn’t let up. It’s impossible to predict where the story goes and who will show up next, leading every narrative development of the series to sweep in from left field.