Mentioning Cleopatra, final ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty, often conjures up photos of desert sands, pyramids, and the Nile River — not essentially area adventures, hoverboards, and laser weapons. But DreamWorks Animation’s Cleopatra in Space, one of many launch titles on the brand new Peacock streaming service, catapults the Egyptian queen right into a futuristic world. There, she trades sphinxes and sandals for an area academy generally known as P.Y.R.A.M.I.D. (Pharaoh Yasiro’s Research Academy And Military Initiative of Defense).
Based on a graphic-novel collection by writer-artist Mike Maihack, Cleopatra in Space is simply as vibrant and wacky because it sounds, at the very least based mostly on the three 22-minute episodes despatched to reviewers. The small pattern dimension makes it laborious to get a way for the primary season’s full arc, however the present makes use of its zany idea successfully, meshing Ancient Egypt and futuristic outer area for some enjoyable, episodic adventures.
The first episode kicks off when teenage Cleopatra discovers a pill that opens a portal, which sucks her into the longer term. There, she meets fish alien Akila, cyborg Brian, and smart cat professor Khensu. She rapidly learns that she is the prophesied Chosen One, whom Khensu believes will save the Nile Galaxy from destruction by an evil overlord. (The overlord occurs to be named Octavian — guess this’ll prep her for later encounters). But the council of cats who rule the galaxy don’t need to promote who she is to the enemy, so Cleo should masquerade as a P.Y.R.A.M.I.D. scholar as a way to practice in fight.
Cleopatra in Space doesn’t do something rivetingly new in its setup. There will all the time be Chosen Ones, like Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender and Harry Potter, who’re singled out to rise above and defeat no matter nice evil sweeps throughout no matter land. But Cleopatra in Space makes use of its clichés successfully. The predominant characters have typical inventory cartoon personalities — Cleo is the spunky protagonist, Akila is the super-caring BFF, Brian is the tech-savvy nerd — however they’re hyperbolically exaggerated, to hilarious and well-thought out impact.
Cleo, for example, has a stage of cockiness and impulsiveness that’s typical for male heroes like Ben of Ben 10 and Lance in Voltron: Legendary Defender. Arrogance and boldness aren’t traits completely absent from feminine heroines, however not like equally reckless heroines like Adora in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power and Korra from The Legend of Korra, Cleo isn’t as prepared to just accept her future because the Chosen One, and would quite spend her time hoverboarding by way of the halls of the P.Y.R.A.M.I.D. academy. The first episode begins with Cleo nonetheless in Egypt, rolling her eyes as her father lists his duties for the day, and declaring that when she’s queen, it’ll be a enjoyable job.
It’s clear that all through the present, Cleo should confront her personal laziness on this unusual new world, rising as much as be the hero she’s destined to be. But until that occurs, she’s a enjoyable, carefree, imperfect heroine whose temporary moments of introspection enable her to be dimensional.
Setting an animated present in area is nothing new, however infusing the world-building with Ancient Egyptian motifs, from the glowing pyramids that make up the academy to the electronic-infused Egyptian melodies of the rating (impressed, says rating manufacturing supervisor Courtney Lofty, by Paramore, M.I.A., and the score of The Prince of Egypt) makes the present stand out. The characters’ outfits all have gold elaborations harking back to Ancient Egyptian costuming, and there’s that council of clever cats presiding over the planet. One episode within the batch of three brings the primary trio to a jungle planet, probably indicating adventures throughout the Nile Galaxy. Cleo is as new to this world because the viewers is, and the present makes use of her amazement at discovering futuristic know-how like hoverboards and anti-gravity belts to amplify our personal sense of surprise.
The full first season might be 22 episodes and characteristic a imprecise overarching plot regarding a Big Bad taking on the galaxy, plus Cleo’s continued quest to return again to her household in Ancient Egypt. But not like different DreamWorks streaming exhibits, this one takes a extra episodic strategy. For Cleopatra in Space, which means fewer plot-heavy episodes to start out with, and extra one-off adventures. It appears to be following a mannequin nearer to collection like Gravity Falls, the place every episode has its hilarious hijinks and the higher plot is slowly threaded all through, quite than She-Ra, the place every episode pushes the plot alongside. That works in Cleo’s favor, as singular adventures are the right avenue for exploring a zany new world by way of the eyes of a spunky, hilarious heroine.
The first season of Cleopatra in Space is streaming on Peacock Premium.