LOCKWOOD & CO. Ghostbusters [Review]

Modern London haunted by ghosts on a daily basis. Did Netflix manage to bring the popular youth series to the screen with dignity?

Mary Kosiarz

29 January 2023

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Teenage detectives versus ghosts, ghouls and a dark past hidden in the back of their minds. Lockwood & Co. is a quite successful screen adaptation of the popular youth series by Jonathan Stroud, which despite its humble beginnings does not herald above-average impressions, takes us on a journey to a fascinating world, where growing up kids, instead of on the pitch, fight among themselves for a position in the ranking of the best ghostbusters. It is a story about friendship, unexplained understatements from the old days, the solution of which we are looking for together with the characters, but most of all it is a purely entertaining, undemanding and satisfying escape from everyday life, which will provide the younger audience with everything they would expect from an action-packed and series full of magical adventures.

The action begins with a short flashback, which slightly underpins the context of the whole story based on the past of the main character endowed with the ability of sensitive hearing. Lucy Carlyle, as a thirteen-year-old, begins her studies at the academy training future ghostbusters, but for many reasons she fails to complete the last, most important year of her studies. In the course of a risky expedition, she loses her closest friend, is wrongly accused of giving false testimony – while the real culprit of the whole case is cleared of all charges – and then escapes not only from the court sentence, but above all she wants to free herself from her mother, who is becoming increasingly difficult every day. she is becoming more and more obsessed. Already at the age of fifteen, he is looking for his own place in mystical London, full of secrets and ghosts lurking in the recesses of the past. In the newspaper, he finds an advertisement about the emerging Lockwood & Co. agency, which is looking for a young, talented adept. As we can guess, this is a moment that will completely change her life, putting her in serious danger several times, but also helping her to recover from the longing for a lost friendship and to get some distance from a toxic family relationship. Together with her friends Lockwood and Karim, Lucy will face ghouls, experience the adventures that almost every young ghostbuster dreams of, and solve the most closely guarded mysteries of magical London. As she searches for answers to unsolved murders and hidden enchanted relics, she will finally find a long-forgotten version of herself.

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It’s nice to see such promising young actors, and the best thing about it is that they start their careers with a quite affordable series, the success of which was by no means something obvious. Ruby Stokes (whom I dubbed the younger version of Florence Pugh at the beginning of the screening, both for her beauty and interestingly developing dramatic skills) and Cameron Chapman are a perfectly balanced casting choice, the icing on the cake being the presence of Ali Hadji-Hesmati as as Karim. Perhaps the series did not give them a full opportunity to show off their young talent, but I really hope that soon I will have the opportunity to watch them in slightly more demanding roles on a bigger screen.

Returning to the merits – Lockwood & Co. is a modernized adventure game of the old date, in which the plot line is not at all the need to solve this one specific puzzle, and the constant change of pace of action, the introduction of subsequent and subsequent threads, gives us all the fun; thanks to which the story does not lose its freshness and gives us more and more fun with each episode. Three friends – Lucy, Lockwood and Karim are heroes, of course, built on the same foundations as most of the characters in productions for teenagers, but in this case, their great acting portraits reward the shallowness of the script and a somewhat predictable course of events, the final solution of which we guess around the middle season. Despite this, the series is quite absorbing, fans of the Stroud series will certainly be satisfied, but it will appeal more deeply primarily to the younger audience, who will not be affected by the flattening of some plots and the schematic approach to building characters as much as the experienced and sensitive to another similar previous Netflix production.

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Lockwood & Co. is weak in introducing us to the story of their characters, which is why the first two episodes throughout the season seem to be the most tedious and, contrary to intentions, do not encourage to stay with the plot for longer. However, this is a transitional period, because what is most interesting and drives the action forward, happens until the very end with the characters gradually getting closer to each other, deepening their relationship; and thus, a more developed psychological sphere of the character.

Although Lockwood & Co. is certainly not a production with ambitious intentions of addressing the pressing issues of contemporary youth, it subtly and successfully manages to draw attention to the problem of, among others, self-acceptance and suicidal thoughts, which at one point also secretly plagues Lockwood. The creators break the pattern of heroes-heroes, whose only characteristic is superhuman strength and stress-free defeating increasingly difficult opponents – after all, members of Lockwood & Co. they are still kids who, like the rest of their peers, experience their first crushes, make puppy mistakes and sometimes find it difficult to talk openly about their weaknesses and feelings.

Although Lockwood & Co. is primarily a show created for the enjoyment of younger youth, looking at the acting performances of Lockwood, Lucy and Karim, it’s hard to believe that the characters they play are actually fifteen or sixteen-year-olds. In the more intimate scenes, they do a great job of showing the aforementioned inner confusion of their characters, but especially in the case of Lockwood, his overly sharpened attitude as an adult, protector and boss of the other two is visible, which makes us see him less as a kid and more as an experienced and mature leader. A far-fetched concept is also the fact that three teenage friends, without any support from relatives, cope with their early adulthood, which in the viewer unfamiliar with the book version of the story may raise only doubts, and even convince of the total detachment of some plot elements from reality.

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What a series with paranormal abilities – such as fighting ghosts with magic swords, which is full of numerous duel scenes requiring visual perfection – simply wouldn’t exist without it, are the special effects that are its true pillar. And it is the production base, which should delight and please the eye, provide mediocre impressions and instead of surprising, it serves pale, blurred faces of ghosts and poor quality photos in moments of explosions or in fight scenes. We expect this type of production to repair the often unfinished fragments of the script with noteworthy CGI effects, but Lockwood & Co. is an average and unremarkable series, both in the context of the events taking place in it and the accompanying magical scenery.

So, has Netflix tried to make a screen adaptation that we will remember and that will convince even those viewers who have not had contact with its original book version so far? Unfortunately, it is a poor work in many aspects and does not encourage waiting for the next season (if the platform decides to put millions into the continuation of the series). If your children are lovers of enigmatic stories and puzzles colored with spells – Lockwood and the company is a good starting material for adventures with this type of subject. However, does it have enough solid ground to represent something more than the rest of youth-related productions? This is a semi-successful series, partially satisfying and partially interesting for the viewer who watches its continuation with one eye and tries hard not to close the other.

Will the next season surprise us? I would like to believe it very much, but everything seems to indicate that, as in the first series, a demanding and sensitive to schematic viewer will not find anything revealing in it that he has not seen before.

Mary Kosiarz

Mary Kosiarz

Far from keeping her feet firmly on the ground, she has sold her artistic soul to books and cinematography. Fascinated by Meryl Streep and an avid fan of unconventional film endings. In her free time, she educates about mental health and recommends her favorite books and screens.

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