Slugterra: Slugs Unleashed DVD Review: Arrested Development

For those new to this vibrant and expertly animated series, Slugterra is an underground land populated with many different types of humanoid creatures and slugs. The denizens don’t know about our above-ground Earth, and humans don’t know about Slugterra, but lead human character Eli Shane has moved to Slugterra thanks to some insider information.

When last we left Eli and his intrepid underground adventurers, they were forming a close-knit group (the Shane Gang) that was united in its efforts to defeat the evil Dr. Blakk. Their weapon of choice: adorable assorted little native slugs that transform into mighty battle beasts whenever they accelerate over 100 mph. They hit that speed courtesy of guns wielded by the gang and their enemies, although it’s not clear what’s in it for the slugs or how they always seem to make their way back into the gang’s holsters from dozens of yards away after reverting to tiny slug form. Dr. Blakk wants to turn the little critters into even stronger evil ghoul slugs, while Eli and crew want to stop Blakk, save the slugs, and avenge Blakk’s apparent murder of Eli’s father.

The first DVD successfully set up and expanded the mythology of the series with a satisfying arc, but this outing is a completely different experience. There’s no unifying arc, no Blakk, and seemingly no rhyme or reason to the stories. Instead, we’re just left with a haphazard collection of standalone episodes that do nothing to further the mythology or character growth. That’s a real shame, because the episodes still look fantastic and move at a brisk pace, leaving their hollow and meaningless plots as the major drawback. Even the slug fighting is woefully underutilized due to the focus on encountering different baddies in each episode. Regrettably, these episodes hold little appeal for anyone save the most undiscriminating of adolescent male viewers.

Stories presented in these five episodes include Eli getting involved in a mechabeast racing tournament, venturing through jungle wilds to land some rare slugs, encountering some frightening shadow creatures seemingly up to no good, and being threatened by zombie characters. I only recall one new breed of slugs appearing in this collection, meaning even the base slug discovery and training component of the show is entirely underutilized. The slugs are adorable and really entertaining, so why aren’t we seeing more of them?

Bonus features include an assortment of inconsequential and brief “slugisodes” captured by the camera of Eli’s associate, along with a look behind the scenes at the writing process of the show.

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Steve Geise

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