The Big Picture

  • Paramount+ released two video adaptations in 2024, starting with
    Halo
    ‘s improved second season.
  • Ark: The Animated Series
    , based on
    Ark: Survival Evolved
    , offers diverse characters embracing an intriguing concept.
  • The show excels in its visuals, a star-studded voice cast, and stellar action scenes but faces pacing issues on occasion.



Video adaptations are already off to the races in 2024, with Paramount+ leading the charge with two already. The first was the second season of their highly contentious Halo series, and while Season 2 is generally considered an improvement over Season 1, there are still many elements of the show that left fans desiring more. The second adaptation ended up being a complete surprise, as Paramount+ suddenly shadow-dropped the first six episodes of Ark: The Animated Series.


Based on the multiplayer survival game Ark: Survival Evolved, Ark: The Animated Series has been in development for quite a long time. It was first announced at the 2020 Game Awards right after the makers of Ark: Survival Evolved announced that a sequel titled Ark II was in development starring none other than Vin Diesel. Speaking of the Fast & Furious star, the animated show was also revealed to have a crew of animation industry veterans and a star-studded ensemble cast. It certainly sounded like a promising new series, and yet, apart from a new trailer here and there, Ark: The Animated Series had no release date and didn’t even have a streaming platform attached to host it.


Then, all of a sudden, in mid-March 2024, Paramount+ not only announced that they would be the home of Ark: The Animated Series, but the first six episodes were now available to watch and stream immediately. It’s a move that has a few pros and cons. On one hand, it’s a pleasant surprise to hear that a series that’s been in development for years is immediately available, but, on the other, the shadow drop means that the series misses out on some crucial marketing. As such, many out there don’t even know the show exists, which is a shame, because Ark: The Animated Series is a video game adaptation well worth your time.

Ark The Animated Series TV Show Poster

ARK: The Animated Series (2024)

Follow Survivor and protagonist Helena Walker after her initial awakening on The Island.

Release Date
March 21, 2024

Cast
Madeleine Madden , Gerard Butler , David Tennant , Michelle Yeoh , Jeffrey Wright , Zahn McClarnon , Devery Jacobs , elliot page , Ragga Ragnars , Karl Urban , Malcolm McDowell , Deborah Mailman , Juliet Mills , Alan Tudyk , Ron Yuan , Russell Crowe , Vin Diesel

Seasons
1

Creator(s)
Jeremy Stieglitz , Jesse Rapczak

Streaming Service(s)
Paramount+

Franchise(s)
ARK: Survival Evolved


What is ‘Ark: The Animated Series’ About?

Ark: The Animated Series is technically a prequel to Ark: Survival Evolved, establishing the the origins and stories of characters in the game’s lore. Like the game, the general premise of Ark stems around a mysterious, island-like environment that appears to have been created by futuristic or extra-terrestrial forces. This Ark is named as it is due to the island having every extinct creature to ever exist, primarily the dinosaurs of Earth’s prehistoric past. Also brought to this island under mysterious circumstances are humans from all parts of history, all of whom are forced to survive this unforgiving environment and its deadly creatures.


One of these humans is Dr. Helena Walker (Madeleine Madden) – an Australian paleontologist who is mourning the loss of her wife, Victoria (Elliot Page). Being a staunch pacifist, Helena is not prepared for the violent and deadly nature of the Ark, especially when she meets a bloodthirsty general from Ancient Rome named Gaius Marcellus Nerva (Gerard Butler). Together, with the help of some allies Helena encounters, she hopes to stop Nerva’s empire, discover the secrets of the Ark, and find a way home.

‘Ark: The Animated Series’ Thrives When It Embraces It’s Fascinating Concept

ark-the-animated-series-poster-cropped
Image via Studio Wildcard


Ark: The Animated Series does an excellent job emulating the look and feel of the game it’s based on, with many of the weapons, outfits, and creature designs coming straight from Ark: Survival Evolved. The original game, primarily focused on multiplayer interactions and survival gameplay, doesn’t have much in the way of a story. Instead, players of the game learn about the world’s lore and exposition primarily through collectibles found in the world. This gives Ark: The Animated Series the opportunity to flesh out its concept, and it’s one that goes far beyond the undeniable coolness factor of Romans riding t-rexes.

The idea of throwing a diverse group of people from all parts of the world and history and then throwing dinosaurs in along with them is a fascinating idea. Seeing them all try to survive a world that is clearly primordial, yet unmistakably alien, has a practically boundless number of possibilities and storylines. Ark: The Animated Series really is at its best when its characters explore the cultures and lives they left in the real world, and how they implement their diverse skills in this dinosaur and monster-inhabited world.


At the center of all these interactions is Helena, a paleontologist who has an interesting and unique perspective on the creatures she comes into contact with. She’s also not immediately portrayed as this unstoppable action hero who can do no wrong. She does feel like she learns and grows more and more the longer she is on the Ark, even if the lessons she learns may contradict her moral code.

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‘Ark: The Animated Series’ Excels in its Presentation


It’s easier to sympathize and relate with these characters when they are voiced by some very recognizable stars. Just a few names attached to Ark: The Animated Series‘ cast are Michelle Yeoh, Gerard Butler, Russell Crowe, Elliot Page, Karl Urban, Zahn McClarnon, Devery Jacobs, and David Tennant, the latter of whom actually reprises the character he voiced in the game. All the voice actors do a solid job, but the real star of the show here is the animation.

The 2D animated world of Ark: The Animated Series is a very visually appealing one, with some pretty stunning action set pieces to boot. Don’t expect anything as violent and mature as Blue Eye Samurai, but the show still boasts some brutal and visceral action. Whether its characters are battling hostile dinosaur populations or rival soldiers, the show’s action scenes are consistently well-choreographed and fun to watch.


Is Ark: The Animated Series the best video game adaptation of 2024 so far? We’d argue it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. The show does have some noticeable pacing issues in the first few episodes, along with some exposition-y dialogue. Still, the longer the show goes on, the more it proves itself as a promising addition to the video game adaptation genre, with its last two episodes in particular standing out as the show’s best so far. We’ll just have to see if Ark: The Animated Series continues to hold its title, as it premiered only a few weeks before Fallout is supposed to grace Prime Video.

Ark: The Animated Series is available to stream on Paramount+.Watch on Paramount+

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