After suffering through the insufferable “Assassin’s Creed” (made redeemable for its flashes of Michael Fassbender’s shirtless upper torso), I had abandoned hope there would be a half-way decent, even mediocre, cinematic — or TV — adaptation of a video game.
Some have gotten close (“Silent Hill” happens to be my favorite), but most attempts are downright awful.
Netflix defies this curse. The streaming giant’s new and way too short four-part series “Castlevania” works.
It’s a gory Gothic experience, a visually arresting production made all the mightier by punchy right hooks of dark humor from writer Warren (“Red”) Ellis, an icon in the adult comic world.
The premise is intriguing: Count Vlad Dracula goes on a rampage in the 15th century after his smart, scientific-focused wife is branded and then burned at the “witch” stake by Catholic detractors.
That all happens in the prologue. In ensuing episodes we meet the sexy but fallen-from-favor Trevor Belmont (voiced by “The Hobbit’s” Richard Armitage), a demon-buster who is a reluctant hero, but a hero nevertheless. He decides to help out.
His fighting skills are much needed since Vlad has gone cuckoo, summoning devilish huge bats to level villages and exterminate everyone. Will the peasants and innocents survive?
The final episode sets the stage for an uprising, and then just ends. But that’s OK.
Why “Castlevina” works while many other adaptations failed is because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Ellis’s irreverence ensures that the carnage (bloody indeed) is balanced with wit. Ellis’s influence makes even the most tried-and-true horror tropes — which are summoned forth here — appear original, even daring.
From the raves garnered by this series, I’m hardly a lone wolf on liking it. Netflix too realizes that it has a hit on its hands, and has already ordered another eight episodes.