Belle’s Non-Spoilery Review:
Confession time: I vaguely remember playing Castlevania back in the day. I knew the game existed, and would play it if I were with my cousins, but it wasn’t one of the ones I was obsessed with. So, coming into this series, I had only the barest idea of what it was about. Guess what? That absolutely doesn’t matter.
Written by Warren Ellis, this series comes out the gate telling you exactly what it is and then snatching the rug out from under you regarding those expectations. From the badass ladies (yes one of them dies, but even that was on her own terms, because of who she is, not because of the men around her) to the villains, who elicit unexpected sympathy even as you know that they’re completely in the wrong, this series is strongly written, beautifully animated and filled with social commentary that is brutal.
As for the cast, everyone brings their A-game: Emily Swallow, recently of Supernatural, combines warmth, intelligence and a no-nonsense attitude to give us scientist Lisa Tepes, whose love of learning and ability to see the good in anyone is the catalyst for the events of the series. Graham McTavish, who is everywhere nowadays, is genuinely terrifying as Dracula; you immediately know it’s about to go down when he shows up. Richard Armitage (apparently it’s a Hobbit reunion up in this piece) is brilliant as Trevor, a gigantic dork who’s exceptionally competent with pretty much any weapon you place in his hands, hiding behind alcohol and apathy to disguise a deep well of pain.
Rounding out the cast is the legendary Matt Frewer as The Bishop, the kind of man who gives religion a bad name, who honestly believes his own hype and is shocked when things turn sideways due to his own behavior; Tony Amendola as The Elder, who is his polar opposite and a reminder of all the good belief can bring; Alejandra Reynoso as Sypha a badass bookworm of epic proportions, and James Callis as Alucard, who is tied to all of the above in unexpected ways.
This series left me wanting more; I was literally yelling at the television “That’s it?!” – and made me want to get into the game so I could know what twists and turns might be coming next. In other words, well done Netflix, well done.
5 fields of bone out of 5.
Ashley’s Spoilery Review:
When it comes to original anime, Netflix has been killing it! From Voltron: Legendary Defenders to Cyborg 009, Netflix has been breathing life into beloved series and drawing in a new crowd to anime. Castlevania, a series of action-adventure horror video games by Konami, is no different.
I’m deadly invested in Castlevania right now. Everything that was packed into those 4 episodes was just what I needed. You have Dracula going on one heck of a revenge bender because the Catholic Church burned his wife at the stake. He literally opens Satan’s screen door and lets all the air out in the form of ravenous bat-gargoyle things who pick humans off like unruly eyebrow hairs. He slashed his own son across the chest, causing him to go into a coma for a year because his son basically said he was being too petty. Man, what?!
Unlike Voltron and Cyborg 009, Castlevania is a video game series that has had many spinoff games since ‘86. For me, I was concerned how Netflix was going to take a game with a rich history and story and do it justice. I was not disappointed. Netflix dropped season 1 a few days ago and I was too ready! Before I even started, I already knew there were only 4 episodes and heard how some people were upset. Not me though.
In terms of Netflix series, we’re accustomed to getting 10-24 episodes in a day and binging all episodes before the day or weekend is up. This short season of Castlevania reminded me of my middle and high school days when I used to buy manga or japanese graphic novels/comic books. You would drop $10 or so on a book with 4-5 chapters, and be told at the end to wait a month for another 4-5 chapters. The wait was brutal especially since the last chapter always left on some kind of cliffhanger: Did the evil stepfather come back? Did the lead male’s horrid past come back to bite him? Sometimes you would have to wait 2 months just to see if the main couple held hands for the first time! As much as it sucked, it made me excited, pumping me up for the next book. I would look forward to picking it up and raving over newly formed friendships or character development. Even better, I would look forward to the discussion it led to with friends to talk about the what-ifs and endless possibilities.
Yes, I could use more than 4 episodes of Castlevania. Yes, I kinda wished there was a full season but at the same time I don’t. Instead of ending a beautiful moment in an instant, Netflix is stretching it out just like how you would with a manga or a video game. Some things are best enjoyed in pieces so you can take in the craftsmanship and appreciate the beauty in it’s story. You totally get that in 4 episodes and I’m satisfied for now.
Good job Netflix; you caught my attention. I’m over here waiting on season 2 like how I stalk my Amazon purchases that give a tracking number. This is how series are supposed to be, spaced out so discussion can happen and excitement can build. THIS is how you create buzz around a series that is a trailblazer in its own right. Speaking of season 2…is it dropping next week or nah?
Rating: 4.5 burning wives outta 5