The Dragon Prince Netflix review: It’s not Avatar, but it’s not bad

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Photo Credit: Netflix

The animation

From the day the teaser trailer dropped, viewers have been decrying The Dragon Prince‘s use of 3D computer-animation versus the more traditional, drawing-based 2D animation seen in Avatar. I definitely don’t prefer it, and it’s hard to get used to at first. Overall, though, the animation style is not a reason to write off The Dragon Prince.

Narrative pacing

If this show weren’t on Netflix, I would say its retention rate over the course of the season would be in trouble. The basic plot points I outlined on the first slide make up the show’s first three episodes. For a while, I was worried those would be the show’s only plot points. Each episode ends a decent cliffhanger, but the overall momentum is just not there early on.

By episode four, the show begins to fall into a better rhythm, more similar to Avatar. The kids get caught up in various adventures, and they begin bonding and sharing backstories. But the season is only nine episodes long. So, essentially, it takes half the season for viewers to get know to the characters well enough to invest them.

The premise

On its own, The Dragon Prince has an interesting enough set-up: magic, dragons, elves, kids trying to save the world from prejudice and an evil tyrant. It has its share of more juvenile jokes that viewers 12 and under will probably appreciate and adults may find annoying. Overall, it’s a perfectly fine kids show.

It’s just not especially groundbreaking. Avatar allegorized World War II in an incredibly imaginative and compelling way that both kids and adults could appreciate. Dragon Prince, with its messages about prejudice and the danger of division, is rather timely for our current political climate, but those messages are not explored as significantly as they could be.

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Additionally, perhaps most significantly, while Avatar took an inspiration from martial arts, element bending was an entirely new concept to the YA fantasy world. Magic is not.

Bottom line: The Dragon Prince is an entertaining show, but it’s not the next Avatar — at least, not yet. Check it out on Netflix by clicking here.