Video game adaptations are hit or miss. My favorite would be the first Silent Hill movie…… and that’s pretty much it. I’m not sure why the industry has such a hard time bringing game franchises to the big screen. There’s so much untapped potential. It comes as a pleasant surprise that Castlevania, written by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Dead Space) and produced by Adi Shankar (mastermind behind the awesome Youtube sensations Punisher: Dirty Laundry and the R rated Power Rangers) is really great. With only 4 episodes to its first season currently streaming on Netflix, I was left wanting more once it was over.
Our story begins with Dracula (Graham McTavish). His castle surround by corpses. It’s not exactly the most inviting place, but a woman named Lisa (Emily Swallow) approaches. She wants to become a doctor, and understands that Dracula is in possession of advanced scientific knowledge and technology. She wants access to his equipment. Intrigued by her proposal, Dracula agrees to help her, and in return, she will help Dracula reconnect with humanity. 20 years pass and Lisa is accused of witchcraft, because of all the said equipment she’s in possession of. A Bishop (Matt Frewer) in the city of Târgoviște condemns her to be burned at the stake. Dracula returns to find out his love has been killed and is wrought with anger. He lets the city know they have one year to leave. If the residents are still there after the year, he will kill everyone. Obviously, no one leaves and after the year is up, hell is unleashed upon Târgoviște. This is where Castlevania earns its R rating. Children are eaten, people have their intestines ripped out by demons. The carnage is visceral and intense. As I watched it unfold, I was trying to sympathize with Dracula but I was having a hard time. I know he’s a monster first and foremost but goddamn. He’s not messing around. For the remainder of the season, Dracula takes a backseat. There is a planned Season 2, set to release in 2018 with 8 episodes. Expect plenty of battles with the Prince of Darkness once our heroes make their way through his castle.
Our current roster of saviors includes Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) who is a washed up monster hunter. The entire time I was watching, he reminded me of Jack Sparrow. His mannerisms, his constant need for alcohol. It took a little getting used to but he’s a character you grow to love. Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso), who is a very powerful magic user. Last but not least, is Alucard (James Callis). He is the son of Dracula, and vows to protect the people from his father (he’s been in a coffin healing from a previous battle the year before with him, hence why he hasn’t bothered protecting them during all these demon attacks). There isn’t very much time to get to know everyone because the show doesn’t have much wiggle room due to the short season, but I’m intrigued to learn more about these characters. As a fan of the games, it’s neat seeing them come to life. The story comes from Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse. The way Trevor meets Sypha for the first time, with a battle against a Cyclops, is straight out of the game. It’s going to be great to see Alucard before the events of Symphony of the Night (could that be the next to get the animated treatment? yes please) There’s an appreciation for the source material here and I love that. The animation is well done, especially the fight sequences. All the voice actors do a commendable job. If you’re into blood and gore, there’s plenty of that too.
Castlevania is off to a very strong start. I’m excited to see where it’s going and how the team dynamic comes into play (we’re missing one more of the crew). Like I said before, the only downside to the whole thing is it’s too short! With stellar animation and a gripping story, Season 2 can’t come soon enough. Definitely check it out. – NVJ
Castlevania: Season 1 is now streaming on Netflix