When I was a kid, Castlevania was one of my first NES games and I immediately fell in love with its gameplay and especially its soundtrack. As I grew older, it seemed like the series just kept getting better and better, with it finally hitting a peak with the beloved Symphony of the Night in 1997. While there were a few hits here and there afterwards, things began to fall apart when the series entered the 3D realm, with recent flops such as Lords of Shadow 2 speaking for itself. Like most fans, I’ve often asked myself why has there never been a movie or series based off these games, and apparently Netflix must’ve wondered too. Now we have a short but good series in Castlevania, which might not be the show fans were expecting, but it’s pretty great all the same.
Written by famed comic book writer Warren Ellis, the story starts in the late 15th century with a young woman seeking out Dracula’s castle in search of becoming a doctor/scientist to help people suffering in her Romanian village. Seeing that she’s not afraid of him and even says he should get out his stuffy home and see the world, he falls in love and marries her. Some years later, the village burns her at the stake out of fear she’s a witch, thanks to all of the futuristic lab equipment Dracula gave her. Of course the vampire lord isn’t too happy about this and nearly destroys the town and all its people a year later. Now the church being lead by a twisted Bishop (Matt Frewer) has taken it upon themselves to rule over the town, killing people they feel are bringing Dracula’s evil creatures and wrath to the village. People such as the “Speakers” who contain vast knowledge and magic within themselves, or even the banished monster hunter and vampire killer Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) who has stumbled his way into the midst of this chaos. It isn’t long before he meets the speakers who ask him to help and find one of their own, Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso), who went into Dracula’s castle to find a legendary hero that’s trapped in there. The two of them find a bunch of demons and traps instead that they’ll have to overcome in order to find this hero and save the people.
For it to be only four episodes long and run at 23 minutes a piece, I thought this was a short but sweet beginning to this Netflix series. Some may find it to be a bit slow as there’s not a lot of action throughout, but what’s there is really good and doesn’t spare any gory/bloody details either. Surprisingly though, I actually enjoyed the “slowness” of it and thought the action scenes were a bonus treat to compliment the story. The animation and artwork was well done, but the voice acting felt just a tad off. It’s not bad per se, but it could be improved. I did like how they made Trevor come off as a Jack Sparrow-like hero that’s part tough guy, part comedic oaf. It wasn’t what I expected, but it was definitely a welcomed change to the series.
Those like love the classic game series as I do or those just looking for something new and cool to watch on Netflix will want to whip across to Castlevania. It’s not the perfect series fans were looking for, but it’s a good start to something that has the potential to be great. I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into more of this series in 2018 when the second season is set to lash out, puns intended of course.