Ricky Church reviews the first episode of Krypton…
Throughout several pieces of media, whether its film, comics or animation, the backstory of Superman’s birth planet of Krypton has been explored many times as his father, Jor-El, tried to prevent the planet’s destruction but was disregarded by its leadership, forcing him to launch his son to the stars. Not much else is really explored about the planet’s history than that most of the time.
Krypton looks to change that as it revolves around Seg-El, Superman’s grandfather, after the House of El has been dishonoured by Kryptonian society in the aftermath of a political upheaval. Unknown to Seg-El and the rest of Krypton is another looming threat from the future: Brainiac, the Collector of Worlds, who wishes to erase Superman’s eventual existence. It’s up to Seg-El not only to protect Krypton, but ensure the survival of the universe’s future.
Cameron Cuffe makes a great lead as Seg-El. He displays a lot of charisma in the role, mixing a reckless attitude with the responsibility of the House of El that’s been placed on his shoulders. Cuffe is easily relatable as his resentment for a corrupt and broken system is shown throughout the episode. Cuffe is also able to show varying emotional states for Seg as his life is turned upside down very quickly. He shows a lot of range with what he’s given and fits into this grander world of Superman’s mythology.
The first thing viewers will notice, however, is the series’ visual style. The Krypton pilot has many great visuals and is shot well, largely being influenced by imagery seen during the Krypton sequence in Man of Steel. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since David Goyer developed and executive produces Krypton, but there’s still enough visualization for the show to call its own. It is definitely striking and the sets are impressive, though a couple also seem to be just huge empty spaces, such as Daron-Vex’s office or the military training room. It still doesn’t take away from the visual’s quality though, especially in our brief look at Brainiac who looks to belong on a big screen.
The supporting cast play their parts well. Georgina Campbell as Lyta-Zod shares nice chemistry with Cuffe and is given a good amount of depth already, being both a warrior-in-training yet also sees the cracks within Krypton’s system. Her mother Jayna-Zod, played by Ann Ogbomo, is every bit as much of a Zod as you’d like to see: stern, prideful and ruthless, yet not without a sense of honour. She makes a very compelling antagonist of sorts. Elliot Cowan is seemingly the real antagonist on Krypton as Daron-Vex, taking whatever measures necessary to stamp out and control the House of El and does a good job of displaying Vex’s cunning and manipulative side.
While the House of El is shamed, Seg has other allies with Rasmus Hardiker’s Kem and Shaun Sipos as the time travelling Adam Strange. Cuffe and Hardiker share a few scenes together and their friendship is clearly strong. Sipos doesn’t get as much time as Strange, but he has a few funny moments that work well and his scenes with Cuffe is another strong pairing.
Krypton is that it is more than just a comic book prequel, but has several layers to it. The show is strongly influenced by sci-fi and has a House of Cards-vibe to it as the political and societal plot is given a lot of precedence. The staging of Krypton’s political problems is nice as the Council is trying to control as much of the planet as it can while it also borrows Man of Steel‘s caste system, directly asking if it is right to determine one’s future and status before they’re even born.
Krypton‘s pilot is a strong introduction to the show with an equally impressive cast and a story that is more than just saving the future. It has several layers to it and uses inspirations from the comics, Man of Steel and even the Donner films in a couple places (the musical queues to both Hans Zimmer and John Williams work very well). Cuffe is a good, relatable lead and this look at Superman’s deceased home planet is well worth exploring. This isn’t a show that just Superman fans will enjoy, but a regular sci-fi audience as well.