South Africa keeps pushing content onto Netflix, and it seems like the African nation is willing to become a hub for content creation in the continent. It is really impressive to see how the country has managed to deliver Netflix quality production constantly, with many released just this year. Some months ago we got the chance to enjoy “Justice Served” which was a very solid crime thriller. But now, South Africa is ready to get into more genre stories with The Brave Ones. Let’s review this new show that arrives on Netflix this week.
The Brave Ones is a South African show TV series developed by Netflix and tells the story of Ntsiki, a young woman who sees herself as being the reincarnation of a powerful goddess from ancient times. Ntsiki must learn to use her newfound powers with respect and also use them to protect her family and the people she loves, as a new dangerous foe seems to be looming over all of them. The show can be labeled as a drama series that then fully embraces the supernatural elements of South African folklore.
South Africa is really making a reputation for itself. The nation has been able to produce some very solid shows for the streaming platform. None of these TV series have been amazing, but they have been solid enough to warrant a watch when you have nothing else to do. In this opportunity, it seems that the producers of this particular show are ready to take the next step and draw in an audience that loves genre fiction. So, if you want to take a piece of the pie from the genre fiction part of the industry, you need to go for a fantasy or science fiction story.
The Brave Ones choose fantasy and take inspiration from South Africa’s own folklore to create a world and a hero that feels unique. There are so many cultures and mythologies around the world, and it feels fresh when a TV show or movie doesn’t go straight into Greek or Norse mythology to take their inspiration. In this case, the series opens the audience up to an entirely new culture and an entirely new pantheon of gods. The series takes its time to establish this mythology and the world very meticulously.
However, that level of detail affects the show in ways that might be a huge turn-off for most members of the audience. The pacing is one of the biggest issues with the show. Some scenes drag for way too long, even when the point was already made. The scenes continue and then continue some more. There is a huge problem here with editing and how one scene flows into another one. The series can still be enjoyed and appreciated, but at many points during your watch, don’t be surprised if end up being completely bored and prefer to grab your phone and see what people are saying on Twitter.
This pacing and editing issue is so big that it ends up hurting the actors’ performances. Sthandile Nkosi plays the role of Ntsiki our main character, and she is great. The actress has great charisma, a powerful striking look, and also knows exactly how to move on camera. However, because the pacing is so bad, some people will have a bad time caring for her or the rest of the characters. The show seems to be more interested in world-building than in its characters. The filmmakers could be just setting up the world now for a future season 2, but it still feels like a mistake.
The Brave Ones has only six episodes, but by episode three you can already feel that they have been stretching the story they had way too much. The entire season could have been condensed into three episodes, and it would have been so much better, not only in terms of pacing but also by delivering the best moments one after the other. There is a lot of fluff here that should be taken out in favor of a better narrative. If you need to set things up, do it gradually and not just everything in one big block of exposition.
Besides the flawed narrative, the acting is solid, the action sequences are solid as well, and the cinematography is decent. You can really feel that the show needs a bit more budget, so they can completely realize their vision on the screen. In its current form, the series seems to be aiming for something, but it doesn’t have the tools to achieve it. This is better exemplified by the visual effects. Some sequences rely on visual effects to sell the story, but these are definitely cheap and don’t sell that these things are happening. It isn’t anyone’s fault other than the fact that the team doesn’t have enough resources.
We will see if The Brave Ones manages to get a second season, but it seems like a difficult prospect. It will all depend on the viewership. Maybe, if the season draws an audience that is big enough, they can get a bit more money for season 2. Money is certainly needed to deliver proper visuals. There is a lot of ambition here, but there are big roadblocks on the way to the ultimate goal.