Chuck (chuckro) wrote,

Castlevania (Netflix, Season 1)

In Wallachia in the 1400s, the vampire Vlad Dracula Tepes is incited to bring down the wrath of his dark forces on the country. Fortunately, the Belmont family is well-versed in fighting this sort of thing. The plot is very loosely based on the events of Castlevania III for the NES, starring Trevor Belmont, who is later joined by Sypha Belnades and Alucard.

I suspect that there's a Nintendo of America censor from the 80s having a heart attack—the original games had to be squeaky-clean to sell to the American heartland, and this...really isn't. Blood, gore and entrails; absurd amounts of cursing; Trevor drinking heavily and, oh yes, the Christian Church of Wallachia is unquestionably the villain of the piece. Dracula is the greater-scope villain, yes, but if the church hadn't been stupid, short-sighted and power-hungry, Dracula would have lived happily with Lisa and everything would have been fine.

(I kinda feel like Warren Ellis was phoning in the dialogue; he can do better than just monologues of characters saying “fuck” and “shit” a lot. Especially when the only exposition being provided by that is, “this character is a jerk who you'll be happy to see die,” or “this character is exasperated by his life.”)

And this is clearly for the grown-up fans of the original NES games and, to a lesser extent, the rest of the series. No one new is going to care about this, and the flow of events and the introduction of characters expects that. Trevor doesn't even matter for the first episode—that's all Dracula's backstory and world-building. And from that beginning, a naive viewer would believe Dracula was entirely in the right to wipe the idiot citizens of Wallachia from the face of the world. If you don't already expect the drunken, disgraced aristocrat to be the hero of the piece, you're going to be very upset when he turns out to be. Similarly, there's a time-skip from Dracula's reign beginning and the story picking up—Belmont's family has hunted vampires for some time, they have family lore about Dracula's castle, Trevor himself has lots of experience fighting, etc etc. This would be totally confusing without foreknowledge.

Overall: The four half-hour episodes in the first season feel more like a teaser miniseries, testing the waters for something much larger. If you've felt the urge for a hard-R rated version of an NES game, give it a test run; but know that you're not getting much literary value.
Tags: reviews, tv reviews
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