Castlevania (2017) Review

Castlevania (2017)
Netflix
Episodes 1-4

I drained Castlevania to the last drop in a single sitting. The only thing I hated was the four-episode count of the season. I immediately wanted more episodes of the adult animation based on the classic video game series.

The story felt like Game of Thrones set in a world of Vampires, corrupt clergy, and a mysterious sect known as the Speakers. Some of the dialogue was less pronounced in parts and I wound up turning on the closed captions by the second episode.

This wasn’t an annoyance. I just didn’t want to miss a single syllable of the cerebral brilliance in a show based on a video game. A game series, I might add, where I spent many hours controlling a pixelated Trevor Belmont against a blurry horde of demons and creatures of the night.

When gaming in the past I had to use my imagination to create the gothic grandness of Dracula’s castle. The animation of the Netflix series left nothing to the imagination and more than exceeded my expectations.

The voice cast is stellar. Richard Armitage (Thorin, of The Hobbit Trilogy) brought to life one of the all-time video game heroes in the form of Trevor Belmont. His design was flawless and I felt like the character was just starting the game with default weapons when he presented his short sword and whip during his first appearance in a tavern fight.

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His family, the Belmonts, were a disgraced family of monster fighters. Trevor is from a long line that was once the bulwark of protection for humanity against the supernatural world.

Trevor repeatedly reminded viewers that he was the last son of this once-proud house. I found myself wanting to know more about the details of their excommunication by the Catholic Church.

Speaking of the Church, they’ve really pissed off Vlad Tepes a.k. Dracula (Graham McTavish). The reclusive Vampire had found love for the first time in centuries. The Church, however, found his wife guilty of the heinous crime of book learning and practicing science. She was burned as a witch while Vlad was inconveniently away traveling as a man and not using his powers by her request. As a result of her fiery death at the stake, the Vampire Lord declared his intent to kill all mankind left in the city in one year. Because if there’s one thing that total genocide always requires, it’s ample warning and scheduling.

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Far more evil than the grieving Dracula, however, was the town Bishop (Matt Frewer).  I found myself cheering and simultaneously regretting his painful death at the incisors of demons. He was too good at being evil to kill off so soon.

The episodes progressed like a role playing game set to animation with incredible art design and great lines. Belmont began alone as the hero, player, character and slowly grew his party with allies of complimentary abilities. He obtained a magician and a final, surprise, ally to complete his companions just as the season ended on a high, yet disappointingly abrupt, note.

Now the fight is on: Belmont and company are coming for Dracula and it’s time to move to the next level (season)

I would grant Castlevania a perfect score if the episode count hadn’t been so short. I hope the new season comes before the next sundown!

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