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Krypton gives Syfy a long Superman run-up -- but will it fly?


Superman’s grandfather does not want to be left holding the cape. Syfy photo

Premiering: Wednesday, March 21st at 9 p.m. (central) on Syfy
Starring: Cameron Cuffe, Georgina Campbell, Elliot Cowan, Ann Ogbomo, Wallis Day, Rasmus Hardiker, Shaun Sipos, Blake Ritson
Produced by: David S. Goyer, Cameron Welsh

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Fun fact: the planet Krypton apparently used to be part of the United Kingdom.

Save for one, all of the principal cast members of Syfy’s Superman prequel hail from either England or Northern Ireland, which is still part of the UK. And even the lone exception is from Victoria, British Columbia, a onetime British settlement named after Queen Victoria.

All of this makes Krypton decidedly British, in dialect, tone and “period” costuming. There are no castles per se, but plenty of royalty amid all of the flying objects, none of which include the future Man of Steel. Krypton’s special effects are pretty impressive throughout the first five episodes made available for review. But the overall storyline begins to bog down rather badly in the latter hours, making Krypton seem like too much of a slog en route to a seemingly long-in-coming payoff that’s already set in stone. Season One will have 10 episodes in all.

Executive producers Cameron Welsh and David S. Goyer gamely try to insist otherwise in publicity materials. “Our series is not a nostalgic look back,” they say. “In our world of Krypton, the past, present and future is yet to be written -- anything can happen!”

Yeah, but c’mon, guys. Eventually little Superbaby is going to be launched toward Earth just before Krypton explodes. The events preceding this are at best anti-climactic, aren’t they?

At the center of Krypton’s story is 23-year-old Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), the handsome, chiseled, still single grandfather of Earth’s future Superman. Once part of the House of El, he’s been made “rankless” along with his ill-fated parents. This is because Seg-El’s grandfather, Val-El (Ian McElhinney), dared to defy the fairly despotic Daron-Vex (Elliot Cowan). How so? Val-El insisted that Krypton is “not alone” in the universe, and that other forces were determined to conquer it. He’s executed for this act of treason while his descendants are stripped of their birthrights.

Seg-El witnesses his grandfather’s death as a nine-year-old before Krypton rockets 14 years into the future. He’s still having a rough life, constantly getting pummeled, captured, chased and re-captured. This is nothing compared to what happens to Seg-El in Episode 4. Let’s just say that having a big _____ crawl up your _____ and out your _____ is not something you’d wish even on Lex Luthor.

Krypton also has a lot of women vs. men fights, all of them featuring hard core warrior Alura Zod (Ann Ogbomo) or her warrior-in-training daughter Lyta Zod (Georgina Campbell). “We never ask for mercy. And we never give it,” Alura commands. Point well taken, in the form of a knife stab to Lyta’s hand -- by mom.

Lyta and Daron-Vex’s comely daughter, Nyssa-Vex (Wallis Day), both have the hots for Seg-El. But he’s constantly preoccupied after Adam Strange (Shaun Sipos) somehow arrives from Earth to inform him that someone is trying to destroy Krypton -- namely the very wickedly green Brainiac (a fleetingly seen Blake Ritson). If that should happen prematurely, then Seg-El’s future son, Jor-El, will never become the father of Kal-El -- the future Superman. Otherwise, no pressure.

Krypton also has a supreme potentate known as “Your Eminence” and sometimes, “His Reverence.” Determined to liquidate a resistance force known as Black Zero, he wears a multi-faced gold mask and travels with an escort of handmaidens. But then, in Episode 4 . . . well, this looks like it could be a pivotal development.

Otherwise, the biggest problems with Krypton are all the little developments. The multiple “jeopardy” situations grow tiresome and almost random in time. Seg-El and Lyta Zod tend to be on the receiving ends in a spin cycle of tribulations. Meanwhile, Cowan’s Daron-Vex keeps raging and kvetching without bringing enough presence to his central villain role. Cuffe’s Seg-El is nicer to look at, but basically is still going to acting school. He does emote convincingly, though, when that big ____ crawls up his _____ and out his _____.

Krypton otherwise continues to look good visually, with the bigger your HD screen the better. It’s a big-ticket item for the Syfy network, even if it won’t at all reduce the unemployment percentage among U.S.-born actors/actresses. Even the action figure toys are very likely to be made elsewhere. Way of the world.


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