Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai Review 2023 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
Almost forty years ago, Joe Dante introduced the eternally adorable Gizmo, a strange furry mogwai, in Gremlins. The Mogwai comes with strict rules that, when broken, invite terror in the form of monstrous green offspring, unleashing gateway Amblin horror with a dark edge. Its animated prequel series, Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, could’ve easily coasted on an origin story for Gizmo that used the 1984 film as a blueprint. Instead, showrunner Tze Chun takes viewers on an epic journey that entrenches the Mogwai within a larger world rich with culturally specific gods, myths, and monsters, all while capturing the same horror-comedy tone of Dante’s original film.
Secrets of the Mogwai opens with a disarming vision of a peaceful mogwai village in the 1920s, nestled deep within an emerald forest. An unpredictable force of nature manages to wrestle Gizmo (AJ LoCascio) away from his family and home, taking him all the way to Shanghai. There the little mogwai finds himself the coveted prize for an evil man, Riley Greene (Matthew Rhys), a powerful black magic user determined to use Gizmo for personal gain.
It’s up to young Sam Wing (Izaac Wang) and street thief Elle (Gabrielle Nevaeh) to transport Gizmo home, sending them on a dangerous journey through the Chinese countryside. Sam and Elle’s mettle gets tested at every turn, as the bid for control over the Mogwai invites spirits, gods, and creatures of myth to the fray. And, of course, a whole lot of Gremlin chaos.
It’s in its cultural specificity that Secrets of the Mogwai shines brightest. While this is indeed a Gremlins series, and the rules get broken almost immediately, Chun uses the overarching story of Gizmo and the green monsters eager to multiply and plunge the world in mischievous mayhem to build upon the world in breathtaking and epic ways. Chun and his writers use the Mogwai as the launchpad to introduce a welcome rotation of folkloric entities to shape this world and its characters. Sam, Elle, and Gizmo must navigate obstacles in the form of Jiangshi, a Chinese hopping vampire, hungry and deceptive fox spirits, and so much more amidst magical realms. More than just widening the Amblin world, it lends unpredictability to the story; Chun isn’t content to simply retell the original story with a setting shift but rather strives for something worthwhile.
The fantastical world is anchored by two unlikely heroes in Sam and Elle. The sweet, naïve Sam strikes a tenuous alliance with the pragmatic, street-smart Elle. The friction between them exacerbates their quest at every turn, with opposing ideologies and approaches to an unkind world. It also serves as a captivating base for satisfying character arcs for both. While Secrets of the Mogwai presents an all-star lineup of voice talent, including Ming-Na Wen, James Hong, BD Wong, Sandra Oh, Randall Park, George Takei, Bowen Yang, and a guest star spot from Gremlins star Zach Galligan, Izaac Wang and Gabrielle Nevaeh carry the series on their shoulders with ease.
This animated series forges new ground and expands the original mythology in exciting ways, yet it never strays too far to become unrecognizable. That’s most apparent in Gizmo and the Gremlins themselves, offering recognizable visual cues and references that fans know well. But it’s most impressive how it strikes that razor’s edge balance between irreverent gateway fun and pitch-black horror humor. This world has high stakes, where death is a tangible possibility. Much like Phoebe Cates’ character in Dante’s film, Elle also has a tragic and dark past.
Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai is an enchanting, delightfully surprising continuation of Gizmo’s world. The animation is stunning, and its narrative, worldbuilding, and characters are just as rich. It makes for a rewarding, breezy inaugural season that’ll capture the imaginations of a younger generation while appeasing original fans. The series may take place in the 1920s, but the Amblin spirit is alive and well in the present.