What a horrible night to have a curse
Adapting video games isn’t new. In fact it’s been done quite a lot in the past decade with results ranging to underwhelming to passable. It comes as no surprise that the initial announcement of Netflix’s attempt to animate the beloved Konami franchise that has turned Bram Stoker’s most enduring intellectual property into a medieval hack-and-slash franchise… was met with some skepticism.
Until its debut on July 7.
Adi Shankar (who’s well-known for his fan-made grim-dark Power Rangers YouTube film) and celebrated comic book writer and wormhole-enthusiast Warren Ellis have teamed up to give us 120 minutes of gruesome gore, hellfire, religious zealotry, drunken bar brawls, and (of course) Dracula (Graham McTavish) in all his imperial vampiric majesty. And after watching these four episodes, you’ll be hungering for more. Fortunately the show’s immediate success has guaranteed a second season with twice the number of episodes.
For those who aren’t familiar with the celebrated Konami franchise, I’ll be brief: Castlevania is about the Belmont clan–a family of vampire hunters who fight with whips– and their war with Dracula that has spanned multiple generational timelines. “Castlevania” itself is the name Dracula’s castle where most games have taken place.
What the showrunners have achieved here is no small feat. They’ve given us more character motivation, backstory, and world building in four episodes than other shows have dished out in a full ten-episode season. They’ve even done a proper adaptation of the source material, that being Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse.
For fans of the Castlevania franchise, the show showcases beloved characters like Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), Alucard (James Callis), and Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso), and presents them to us with more depth and nuance. I mean, why wouldn’t they be when their previous incarnations have been 16-bit character sprites waltzing across the screen hurling projectile holy water bottles at enemies? Yet, adapting video game characters into a show format has been done quite terribly in the past. Castlevania takes the time to let us get to know our characters. The entire pilot episode is dedicated to fully fleshing out Dracula’s character and, without spoiling it for you, gives him legitimate reasons for wanting to decimate the human race. In fact, screw the human race I’m #TeamDracula, you guys. But then we’re also introduced to the hapless innocent victims of Dracula’s murderous onslaught as well as the astonishingly charming Trevor Belmont and now I’m also rooting for #TeamBelmont.
Go check Castlevania on Netflix now. You won’t be disappointed… except for the fact that Season 2 isn’t available just yet.
Starring: James Callis, Richard Armitage, Alejandra Reynoso, Matt Frewer, Graham McTavish, Emily Swallow