Powerhouse Animation returns to Netflix with their newest series Skull Island, which pulls its setting from the classic King Kong films and seems to pull more direct inspiration from 2017’s Kong: Skull Island.
Skull Island opens with a mystery girl, a paramilitary group, and a small ship of cryptid hunters all brought together after a giant squid attack.
Like every Powerhouse Animation product – Seis Manos, Blood of Zeus and Castlevania to name a few – expect to see plenty of blood and violence, as characters are attacked by a bevy of impossible creatures and plants as they try to survive the titular island.
Our castaways feature a trio of teenagers – Charlie, Mike and mystery girl Allie (Mae Whitman) who is joined by her pet, a lion-bulldog hybrid called Dog – Charlie’s father Cap (played by Benjamin Bratt), botanist Irene (Betty Gilpin) and her small group of mercenaries (who include veteran voice actors Phil LaMarr and John DiMaggio).
Skull Island operates on a few mysteries, and the dangerous situations it places its characters in. Despite the overall connection to the King Kong franchise – Kong himself is a minor part of the show, making fleeting appearances over the eight-episode season.
Still, fans of Powerhouse Animation receive another strong product from the studio, though one that doesn’t shine quite as brightly as their last project Masters of the Universe: Revelation.
Apple TV+ has just launched their latest mini-series Hijack starring Idris Elba. Hijack plays into a format popularised by 24, in which the story takes place in real time. Elba stars as Sam Nelson, a passenger returning from a work trip who finds himself navigating a violent group of hijackers. The show moves between the action on the plane as well as showing events happening to airport staff, the UK’s Counter Terrorism Unit and even Sam’s family back home.
Elba, naturally, commands the screen. His character, a negotiator by trade, finds himself trying to de-escalate other passengers and the hijackers, offering a character who shifts towards something more morally grey, while also working in secret to find outside help.
Hijack has released two episodes already, with another being added on Wednesday. Elba is joined by an interesting cast, including Eve Myles, Archie Panjabi, Aimée Kelly, Ben Miles, Max Beesley and Fatima Adoum. Hijack makes for an interesting watch, as each episode counts down to its conclusion.
A slightly lighter experience is Binge’s Based On A True Story, which is ironically not actually based on a true story. The series features a struggling pregnant couple who fantasise about the past or about potential affairs to spice up their life, discovering a serial killer in their midst. The couple, seeking fame and fortune, decide to approach the killer and make the ultimate true crime podcast. Based On A True Story pitches itself as a comedy thriller, and while it makes no mystery over who the killer is, it does take a darkly comedic look at his actions, his opinions on himself and his desperate need for validation over his skillset.
Based On A True Story features an absurd tone, able to veer from graphic fantasy sequences, to bloody violence to domestic comedy and a comedy of errors from scene-to-scene. The series is at its best when it manages to combine several of these elements into a scene, shifting from something tense and finding a comedic landing, or starting light and shifting into unexpected violence.
The show makes good use of its cast, particularly Kaley Cuoco who masterminds the podcast plot, while clearly not understanding the danger she’s placing herself in. The series also stars Chris Messina, Tom Bateman, Priscilla Quintana, and features appearances by Li Jun Li, Alex Alomar Akpobome, Claire Holt and June Diane Raphael.
Eight episodes of Based On A True Story are available now.