Synopsis: In the first two episodes of Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai. Gizmo is torn from his home and captured by a miserable circus, sheltered ten-year-old Sam Wing’s retired treasure-hunting grandpa introduces him to a whole new world of magic.
Animated prequel series to Gremlins and Gremlins: The New Batch. Secrets of the Mogwai follows Gizmo’s adventures in 1920s Shanghai as he tries to return to his home in The Jade Valley with a little help from his new human friends, Sam Wig and Elle. However, Gizmo’s journey to get home is not likely to be an easy one as the evil sorcerer Riley Green is after the little Mogwai. These opening two episodes of the animated show, which started on HBO Max earlier in the week show us how Gizmo wound up coming to the world of men and how he met with Sam and Elle. And its a fun story for young and old and a great bit of nostalgia for people like myself who remember the original films.
The first two episodes include some big hitters from the acting world, which include James Hong as Sam’s adventurous Grand Pa and the brilliant Ming-Na Wen as Sam’s mother Fong Wing who helps her son and Gizmo escape from the evil Riley Green who has already swallowed his grandfather. Izaac Wang provides the voice of Sam Wing while Gabrielle Nevaeh adds her voice to the character of Elle who proves to be one of the more interesting characters.
Matthew Rhys really leans into his role as Riley Green as he channels his most evil of mustache-twirling vocals to the show’s main villain. I loved the line he had about respecting semantics when Sam accused him of eating his Grand Pa.
Providing his voice for Gizmo is A.J. LoCascio who gets the cooing and the singing just about right.
The animation is all done by computer but uses cell shading as opposed to going with full-on 3D work like what you’d see in a higher-budget production like Toy Story. However, I think the 2D approach works well for this. I loved the setting of 1920s Shanghai and all the character models are nicely drawn and worked well. I especially liked the character drawing of Gizmo, which works well alongside how he appeared in the two feature films.
As a lifelong fan of the two Gremlins movies. I had mixed feelings about how a prequel animated series would work. However, I’m happy to be proved wrong. The setting of China in the 1920s really works well for the story and I especially enjoyed the use of Chinese mythology and magic being used in the series, but hope that the plot doesn’t lean too heavily on this element in the weeks ahead.
Sam Wing as a character works well as a companion for Gizmo and the addition of Elle to the group in the second episode really makes for some potential storylines as the series moves forward.
Overall Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai channels the right balance between nostalgia and story and looks like it’s going to be a nice addition to the Franchise as things move forward.
Gremlins: Secrets of The Mogwai airs every Tuesday on HBO MAX.
- Voice Acting9.5
- Incidental Music9.8