'gen:LOCK' Review: Rooster Teeth's Monster Hit in the Making
Rooster Teeth is no stranger to animated favorites with many of its works like Red vs. Blue and RWBY gaining huge waves of cult momentum among anime and video game fans alike, but their newest project, gen:LOCK, feels like the hugest undertaking yet.
Co-produced by Michael B. Jordan's Outlier Productions, gen:LOCK packs a stacked roster of voice talent, but does it manage to fulfill on its promise at the end of the day? Good news; gen:LOCK absolutely delivers.
Set in an alternate future, gen:LOCK stars Michael B. Jordan as Julian Chase, a pilot in the Vanguard, a military force for a nation known as The Polity. When New York is attacked by an invading military force known as The Union, the war between these two factions begins in full. Years after the conflict begins, The Polity is desperate for ways to defeat the Union and thus invests in Dr. Rufus Weller's (David Tennant) "gen:LOCK" program. Chase is the first pilot in the program, which features a system that bonds compatible human minds with giant mechs.
The first thing that immediately jumps out from the series' first three episodes is the impressive script. Much of it feels natural as elements of this new world are introduced at a steady rate, making sure that it will not overwhelm audiences with its ideas, yet still lay all the necessary foundation for an enthralling world. The characters are each interesting in their own way as they bounce of one another with well-written dialogue. Though that also has to do with the incredible voice talent behind the series as well.
Along with talent from Rooster Teeth's other productions like Lindsay Jones, gen:LOCK is further boosted by Jordan's Julian Chase, Tennant's Dr. Weller (as he has a great time with the playful role), Maisie Williams' hilarious turn as the rambunctious new recruit Cammie MacCloud, and Koichi Yamadera (Dragon Ball Super's Beerus, Cowboy Bebop's Spike Spiegel) who speaks entirely in Japanese, but the main standout is also the crux of the main plot, Dakota Fanning as Miranda Worth.
Without giving too much away about the big twist in the first episode, which makes for a more emotionally effective final scene, Worth's relationship with Chase is the emotional core of the series. The initial twist is such a surprise that it has the sort of narrative hook that makes you want to watch another episode as soon as possible.
The acting and writing of the series would be great enough on their own, but there is also an impressively animated production holding it all together. gen:LOCK has a striking look that wears its anime influences on its sleeve, yet feels like an entirely unique project. The fight scenes are fluid, and the first full scene with the Holons will have you aching for more. But they're always filled with personality as each action scene is imbued with an extra sense of humor or drama to take it up a notch.
gen:LOCK has all the makings to be a huge hit for Rooster Teeth. If the rest of the series plays out as well as the first three episodes do, then hopefully gen:LOCK sticks around for a long, long time.
Rating: 5 out of 5
The first two episodes of gen:LOCK are now streaming on Rooster Teeth. The first episode is available for free while the second and subsequent episodes will be exclusive for paying members.