Julien Neaves, Caribbean Head Writer
I mentioned in my review for the Barbadian short film Visitors that two things I love are Caribbean content and Sci Fi. Well, new GT Network mini-series Vaser Claw is Caribbean content (from Trinidad and Tobago), is science fiction AND has people with superpowers, another of my loves. So yeah, this is definitely my kind of show.
Fans of GT’s flagship series Magonolia would recall meeting the regal and noble alien prince Vaser Claw (Jumael James) in that series. He features prominently in Magonolia Episode 3 and it is not a coincidence that this was my favourite episode of that show’s first season. Well now Vaser has his own spin-off show, a four part mini-series. The catalyst for the action is the prince receiving word from the spy Andrella that the man who killed his family is still alive. He travels to the planet V-En on a mission to determine the truth of the report.
Episode 1: Decision of Fate starts off Vaser Claw (the series, not the character) on a strong footing. From the jump we get a flashback giving us his backstory on our protagonist. The flashback includes a very entertaining shootout between new gun-toting character Tamia (Ambika Boodhu) and previously introduced mistress of pyrokinesis Infernaa (Akeima Gibson). I do enjoy some butt-kicking Sci Fi women and these two ladies nail their roles. At the end of the first act we are treated to the opening credits, which are big budget movie epic with the awe-inspiring music and super cool visual effects. Overall the effects here are very well done, especially knowing the series does not have the budget of the average Hollywood film. The green screen backgrounds are clearly green screen, but it is done so well that it does not take you out of the experience.
As I am on the topic of effects, let me chat somewhat about the makeup effects. In the series we meet our first coloured alien in the form of Commander Azera (Saraswati Ramlogan). I thought the makeup effects done on her were fantastic, and I could easily see a similar design working on Star Trek or some other US Sci Fi series. Kudos to McKenzie Artistry on their stellar job (no pun intended). And the costuming was generally well done, especially Vaser’s two costumes, though I found the simple black costumes of the villainous Moors somewhat underwhelming. Now back to the story!
In the second act Vaser and his adoptive mother Queen Lou-Cinda (the multi-talented Charli Griffith) receive the holographic message from Andrella that serves as the catalyst to the episode and the series. James and Griffith have a really great familial chemistry and they definitely sold it for me. As Vaser, James has a strength and poise to him, though he and the writers should be more careful to stop his Trini dialect from creeping out. He is an alien after all. Some of the spelling and grammar in the captions also could done with some tightening, but it is mostly polished.
And continuing on the topic of chemistry, we get the romantic kind between Vaser and the beautiful Princess Lura (Vanessa Seunal). We don’t get a lot of Lura this episode but she makes her presence felt and the two heat up the screen. Yeah, this show is definitely a little more mature than Magonolia. And continuing on the more mature tone is the action. On the planet V-En Vaser encounters some Moors and the fight is more visceral and brutal than anything we saw with Magonolia. And I did not mind at all. There was also a scene with Infernaa (you’ll know it when you see it) that made me go, “Dang. We ain’t in Kansas no more Dorothy!”
But the first episode is not all battles and dark moments. We get a mega dose of comedy courtesy of the character Keith (Kendall Arneaud). He is a clown of the highest degree and a great foil for the super serious Vaser. Arneaud’s fast-talking antics made me laugh more than once and I look forward to seeing more of the Vaser/Keith odd couple dynamic in the future.
I had a great time with Episode 1 of Vaser Claw. Cool effects, great action, good character moments and comedy that lands (mostly). What else can one ask for? More Vaser Claw, of course! And I most excited to see how this grand story continues to unfold in the next episode.
Score: 7.5 out of 10
Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.
You can watch Vaser Claw Episode 1 for yourself by clicking here. And you can check out more from GT Network below: