Locke and Key Review – A fantastical universe that’s worth a tour

Locke and Key Review – A fantastical universe that’s worth a tour

Adapting a comic book series into a Netflix show is a double-edged sword. There’s immense scope for innovative storytelling, the long-winded narrative offers enough time for the characters to grow on you but the downside is that it needs to cut across barriers, both in terms of age groups and borders. The show needs to be universal, adult-friendly, teen-friendly and child-friendly without trying too hard to please its target groups desperately, while still retaining the soul of the written material – which Locke and Key as a show mind-bogglingly is able to achieve. And for its makers who’ve been turned down earlier by Fox TV after its pilot series didn’t go well back in 2010-11, the show is a return to form, with a fine blend of innovation and old-world charm. It’s extremely successful in transporting a spectator to a universe that has a defined set of rules – with an element of fantasy, a dash of magic, a sense of mystery, the threat of a danger lurking around, all bound by emotion and a firm purpose. The adventurous streaks of the protagonists can make an adult go nostalgic about their formative years, while they are equally relatable to the PubG-generation too. The Lockes are a clan for whom a set of magical keys is a legacy – it’s an asset they need to protect and can do a lot of harm if it goes into the wrong pair of hands. The plot kicks off after a lecturer Rendell Locke is murdered by one of his students Sam in Seattle. After which, the tight-knit family, a group of four- including Rendell’s wife Nina, their three children Bode, Tyler and Kinsey- decides to relocate to their ancestral property in Matheson, Massachusetts. The siblings know little about the powers that the keys hold. A mysterious voice that Bode hears from an abandoned well is not going to make their stay in the sleepy town any pleasant. The variety in the number of keys and the powers they hold is alluring – say the head key, anywhere key, mirror key, omega key, ghost key, puppet key to name a few. The head key takes you to those deep corners in your mind where memories exist in fragments, the anywhere key lets you go to any part of the world through a door (except that you should have seen the place at least once), the mirror key confuses your identity through a mirror, the ghost key transforms into you into a ghost albeit temporarily where you can have conversations with the dead. It feels like a part of your childhood, vivid imagination coming alive on the screen. The way the three kids use those keys ensures a bunch of amusing sequences at their house, college and public spots. Watch out for that hilarious scene where Kinsey uses the puppet key to make her supposed-nemesis Eden literally dance to her tunes in college. The show’s teen drama portions aren’t integrated seamlessly into the plot – the thread where a squad in college tries to make a low-budget short film, the quintessential love triangle, the exploration of teenage angst take up more time than needed. It’s the curiosity of its youngest character Bode that brings the show back on track beyond the distractions from its other subplots. The flashbacks, true to the setting, are unveiled through a set of memory bottles that are stored in specific locations. The story goes back and forth to an incident that Rendell intentionally hides from his family – about the death of his friends by the riverside – but masks it in the form of a bedtime tale for his kids. The dreary portions, between the intriguing start and a set of gripping episodes leading to the finale, beat around the bush. But, you wouldn’t want to call it mediocre writing – just that the subplots aren’t tied up as well as they should have been. There’s enough adrenaline-pumping dose reserved for the climax, with newer dimensions to the characters emerging and of course, a quintessential twist. The casting is top-notch, while the performances too are assured where the distinctions between the diverse set of characters help.  The child actor Jackson Robert Scott as Bode impresses the most, generating an impression that he’s genuinely discerning beyond his age. It’s a guarantee that the familiar face Griffin Gluck will have more to offer in season two. Connor Jessup’s boyish charm (as Tyler), a sensitive but occasionally haughty Emilia Jones (as Kinsey), the charming Petrice Jones, Darby Stanchfield as the concerned mother, form a compelling lineup and help you root for their characters. The five director team Michael Morris, Vincenzo Natali, Tim Southam, Mark Tonderai, Dawn Wilkinson come up with a show that should last well for the ages. The brains behind the comic book series Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodríguez have a visual adaptation that they could be proud of. Rating: 3.5/5


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