As I was reading Jasyn’s outstanding review of The Last Jedi, I kept thinking how much it applied to another 2017 production I watched last week. Namely, the Netflix-produced miniseries of Castlevania. For those unfamiliar with the property, it’s a series of video games, beginning in 1987 and continuing to the present, which follow a simple premise. You play a hero who goes through Dracula’s castle fighting various monsters, from Medusa Heads to Frankenstein’s Monster to Death himself, before finally encountering and slaying the king of vampires. While the protagonists have evolved over the past three decades from members of the Belmont clan to Dracula’s son Alucard to a random tattooed witch, and the weapons have changed from the Vampire Killer whip to swords, hammers, and even grenade launchers, the core concept remains the same. Kill a bunch of monsters, then kill Dracula. (Yes, I’m aware there are a few games, like Lament of Innocence or Dawn of Sorrow, where you don’t ever technically fight Dracula)
Castlevania is my favorite video game series of all time, but I wasn’t excited about a planned series, and not only because I suspected Hollywood would fuck it up. In terms of story, Castlevania is as banal as it gets. You could not, for instance, write an interesting book based on the franchise. There are simply not enough ideas there. However, I believe it’s possible to make a good television series or movie from it, as that medium doesn’t require nearly as much depth as the written word. Two strengths of the games can carry over to film; the cool characters and awesome set pieces.
There is a problem, though. Modern Hollywood fails pitifully at manly, heroic characters, and they have gotten increasingly lazy with set pieces.
Which brings us to the series itself. It takes place in the late 1400s, following the events of Castlevania III interspersed with Alucard’s backstory revealed in Symphony of the Night.
It begins with Lisa, a peasant girl trying to learn about medicine, waltzing straight into Dracula’s castle. When Dracula threatens her, she shows zero fear, and dresses down Dracula for not showing proper courtesy to a guest. Dracula is taken aback and proceeds to do everything she tells him to, like a properly repentant boy.
Yep. Three minutes in, and the main, terrifying villain, lord of demons and monsters, has been emasculated and is being ordered around by an ordinary country girl. In exchange for this feminist bullshit, the mighty Dracula is robbed of all menace and mystery, vital characteristics of a villain.
However, contrary to expectations culled from three decades of the franchise, Dracula isn’t actually the main villain in the series. Oh no, THAT would be Christianity.
It’s a bloodthirsty, insane Catholic priest who decides to burn Lisa alive, precipitating Dracula’s vengeance against the region of Wallachia in Romania. It’s the Catholic Church that purposely keeps the villagers poor, ignorant, and miserable. It’s the Church that employs a bunch of cartoonishly evil, ugly thugs to murder peaceful old men in the streets. It’s the Church that the main hero, Trevor Belmont, is mainly fighting against, not the forces of Dracula.
It’s impossible to understate how vindictive, vile, and hysterical the decision by Warren Ellis to cast Christianity as the main evil in the series is. (And this, coming from a non-Christian) Moreover, it’s nothing more than a bunch of ahistorical lies.
As the excellent Brian Niemeier noted on an episode of Geek Gab, Wallachia wasn’t even under the authority of the Catholic Church then, but rather, the Eastern Orthodox Church! While I hadn’t realized that, I still thought how imbecilic it was for the Catholic Church to have military power in rural Romania at a period of time when their strength was waning and they were struggling to hold onto their Papal States in Italy.
And if you’re wondering if there is anything like this in the game series, the answer is no. In Symphony of the Night, it’s revealed that Lisa is burned as a witch, but no church is ever implicated. While rarely touching upon religion directly, the portrayal of Christianity is generally positive throughout the series. Crosses and Holy Water are classic weapons from the first game, and later on in the series, rotating Bibles. Priests have also aided the player several times, with Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest and Portrait of Ruin both coming to mind. Yoko and Sypha (more on her later), both playable characters in the series, are Christians fighting on behalf of the Catholic Church.
Thus, in addition to being repulsive by itself, being virulently anti-Christian is not something that Castlevania ever was.
In another pure invention of the Netflix production, the Catholic Church is responsible for taking the lands of the Belmont clan and driving them from home, further evidence of their evil. According to official Konami materials in 2006, it was the Pope who called on the Belmont clan to fight Dracula in 1476 after the Eastern Orthodox forces had failed to subdue him, the precise opposite of the series. Which brings us back to the characters and how miserably the series fails at them.
Trevor Belmont, the legendary warrior who was the first of his clan to fight and kill Dracula (or at least since Leon and Sonia were retconned) is depicted as a sullen, aimless drunk who has no desire to help anyone and gets coerced into doing so with great reluctance. Now, a reluctant hero can work in the right hands, but there is simply nothing heroic or admirable about Trevor at any point in the four episodes. He is petulant and morose, with the explanation for this being thoroughly unconvincing. Yes, the Church took his lands, but he still wears nice clothes, has an array of weapons, and plenty of money. Him being resigned to his fate is not the behavior of any hero, reluctant or otherwise, but of a loser.
This lack of heroism applies to his physical abilities, too. It’s stated many times throughout the series that the Belmont line is far more powerful than ordinary humans. Their physical strength, speed, and endurance is comparable to a comic superhero, and they can easily kill a regular human with a single blow. Which makes perfect sense. How the hell could a Belmont hope to defeat an army of supernatural monsters otherwise, when a few Lizardmen, Bone Dragons, or Axe Armors could ravage an entire village? And yet, Trevor is no larger or stronger than a random villager he fights at a local bar. His only advantage is that he is more skilled when sober.
At least it’s consistent, right? After making Dracula a subservient sissy, it only makes sense to make Trevor Belmont a churlish, weak, wino, right?
Amusingly, despite all the Social Justice with the feminism and hatred of Christianity, the series fails as putridly with the female hero of Castlevania III, Sypha Belnades. In the game, she is a magic caster (ergo, her power is not derived from physical strength, as it is for the male characters) and thanks and helps Trevor on his quest after he saves her by defeating the Cyclops boss. Their ending also implies a further romantic relationship between the two.
In the series, she is the granddaughter of the head of the Speakers, a multiracial collection of vagabond cultists. (Because why the hell wouldn’t there be random black guys in Romania in the 15th century, you goddamn racist?!) Naturally, the Speakers are genuinely good, holy, and non-violent, and persecuted by the evil Christians. This is already a huge misstep.
See, Sypha in the game was a brave adventurer fighting Dracula’s forces as part of a monastic order. By instead making her part of a pacifist group led by her grandfather, they rob Sypha of heroism and agency. She is just a child following around a grandparent who only fights due to circumstance, not a bold protagonist making a conscious decision to risk her life against Dracula’s hordes.
But of course, it gets worse. Far from being thankful when Trevor saves her in the series, Sypha is angry and bitter towards him. And then tries to order him around. (Hey, it worked for Lisa with Dracula!) This is more feminism (a woman can’t ever be vulnerable or thankful towards a man), and the cost this time is transforming a likable female protagonist into a shrill, odious, harpy cunt.
So we’ve established that the Netflix series has an ugly, off-putting hatred of Christianity, a love of feminism, idiotic race virtue signaling, destroys everything cool about the characters, and spits on all things masculine and heroic. It might seem besides the point, but what about those set pieces?
Lazy and uninspired, as expected. With all the fascinating weapons, armor, locations, and monsters in the Castlevania games, it’s pathetic how little they do with them. The climactic fight in the fourth and final episode between Alucard and Trevor is especially bad, as there are noticeably few frames of animation being used. As a result, it looks choppy and disjointed. The conclusion also sucks, but you likely already guessed that. Instead of Trevor defeating Alucard, as in the game, (Alucard was testing Trevor’s strength) they’re in a stalemate which is broken up by Sypha, after which Alucard shrugs and joins them. Lame.
On a technical and choreography level, the fights look worse than some anime I’ve seen from the late 90s, let alone the early 2000s. Seriously, go watch 1997’s Berserk and note how much more dynamic, fluid, and inventive the combat there is.
There is also a lot of useless, imbecilic talking in each episode, as opposed to an emphasis on action. (Social Justice trumps entertainment, after all!) As with The Last Jedi, the pacing is terrible.
Notably missing from the Netflix series is Grant Danasty, the fourth playable character in Castlevania III besides Trevor, Alucard, and Sypha. Grant is an awesome dagger-throwing pirate who can climb walls, an utterly unique ability throughout the games. His omission might be excusable if they couldn’t work him into the story, but consider all the superfluous bullshit they added instead. The Speakers. Demonization of Christianity. A village peasant talking about fucking goats. It’s obvious where the priorities of these troglodyte “creatives” are.
Whether intentionally or not, despite the vilification of the Church, there is a group worse than them. The villagers. At one point, a town mob is trying to kill Trevor, spurred on by accusations by those evil Christians. However, after Trevor says a few words accusing a Church leader of malfeasance, those same villagers turn right around and murder a man of the cloth with repeated, merciless stabs of their knives and pitchforks. That’s right; the people are such maniacal, murderous madmen that they go from allying with X and trying to kill Y to allying with Y and killing X in the span of a minute and a few generic words.
Perhaps this is how Hollywood feels about the common man shining through. Perhaps this is pure incompetence. Regardless, this makes it impossible to care about a single villager, and effectively eliminates the stakes of the series. If the villagers are this awful, who cares if Dracula’s hell-spawns rip their throats out and feast on the carcasses?
Netflix’s Castlevania is a shoddy, boring series infused with the worst, most idiotic nihlism and Social Justice that spits on heroism, Christianity, and anything else positive.
And yet, this also brings us to an interesting question. I despised this production with every ounce of my being. Brian Niemeier hated it, too, despite wisely only watching the first episode. However, the majority of people like the series, judging by ratings and reviews on IMDB and elsewhere. What gives? My guess is that these folks are simply used to the awful garbage of today. Netflix’s Castlevania, sadly, does not stand out as an anomaly in 2017. Ergo, most either ignore, accept, or actively enjoy what I’ve noted above.
Was subjected to the first episode as a captive audience. Wretched.
Thank you for the warning. Life is not long enough to waste time on junk like this.
What TWS said.
I never played the Castlevania games and now will never watch the Mini-Series but I would totally read a Castlevania Novel if it could be done and wasn’t written by an SJW who only knows how to write Drama or Hollywood Fiction.
Well, there was the Worlds of Power novelization of Castlevania 2, but even in 3rd grade I thought it was kinda cheesy.
Though you pretty much said everything I would’ve said about this trash, the one thing I’d like to add is how just awful the writing was. I mean if I remember correctly, when Dracula visited that old lady after her village was destroyed he told her to, “leave within a day,” or something like that. In the very next scene, he tells an entire city that they have one year to repent from their folly before he destroys everything. So the former scene was entirely pointless. And that’s just one flaw out of many when it comes to the writing.
Ultimately, this is a tale of lazy writing and even lazier owners not giving two shites about their products. But I think what really pisses us off, beyond what’s mentioned here, is the wasted potential to tell a good story. In this case, you don’t need the depth of Tolkien to make something decent out of the material.
Altogether, this is just another reason we need the people at CH and those indie authors to help bring back the catharsis of good storytelling to a starving people.
I felt the mini series took a stance against corruption in the church, not Christianity itself. Trevor needed holy water blessed by an ordained priest at one point to fight the hell creatures. The characters all believe in some sort of Christian dogma whether they are protagonists or antaganonists. On a side note I really do hope the series will feature hidden wall chicken.
I quite strongly suspect that Speakers were meant to be “Gnostics”. And by “Gnostics”, I mean the very specific brand of anti-Christian heretics that left wing schoolars always have a hard-on for. Libertine, feminist, nihilist and so on. If you decide to follow future seasons, I believe that you will eventually stumble on overt parallels. Would also explain your uniformly evil, unsalvageable villagers because that is how these “Gnostics” view the loathsome common masses, Demiurge-spawn devoid of sparks of holiness.
Dracula being bossed around by Lisa wasn’t feminist bs like you say it was. It was meant to show how Dracula fell in love with her pretty much from the moment they met. I can agree with the church being made to much of a villain in the show but the Belmont clan being cast out by the church was something that did happen.
These are the articles, when someone says there isnt enough ideas to write a book but make a tv show ha ha ha ha
That should be a little red warning sign
“Perhaps this is how Hollywood feels about the common man shining through.”
Pretty much. That IS how the modern far-left elites view the common man. I wouldn’t be surprised if you could dig up a positive review of this garbage from some major publication wherein that portrayal of villagers as worthless, blood-thirsty and easily manipulated wastes of skin is praised as a “penetrating comment of the rise of Trump and on his supporters”. (no, I’m not joking – I bet you that you can find something to that extent)
TV show, movie, video game and literature are different media’s and need different formats. Everything can be turn into literature or TV show if fleshed out and done right. You should know that. Castlevania has a very simple and basic sorry, but the premise can be easily expanded to a full book or TV series
I understand where your going with this.
In the 70s to early 80s we had the Beastmaster, Lady Hawk, Dragon Slayer, Excalibur, Clash of the titans, Legend, Conan the barbarian, Red Sonya, Ice pirates,Time bandits, and more. To ones like Labyrinth, NeverEnding Story. So on.
It seems the ‘magic of mystery and adventure has become very lack luster. Full of CG and lazy writing. Once in awhile a jewel does shine. Example for me was MirrorMask.
However the 90s did introduce great space scifi.Next gen star trek, Babylon5, Lexx, Firefly, and of course Stargate. Even V, in the 80s was a step in the right direction. And yes. Star wars has come a very long way I would say. From then to now.
Right now its all about Comic books. Which uses a combination of swords and sorcery. And guns and grenades. Which in its own way is beating to its own drum. The masses like it. I do to.
As to the remakes of some of these grand father classics are to appeal to new young audiences. They become a hit or miss. Mostly a miss,twould seem. Todays audience is very broad in interest. And Hollywood is not what it used to be. Now its more about streaming services. Some great. Others not so great.
Like in a video store you will find something you like.
Dont let social media dictate what you will like. Find out for yourself. Some internet critic can’t read your mind. Before that was television movie critics doing the same. I’ve ignored their say my whole life. (im 44 yrs old). And continue to do so.
Take a chance you might be surprised.
Ps Sorry for the typos
So many people who normally spot SJW stuff let this pile fly under the radar for reasons I don’t get. It has every single hack cliche story turn since the PC ’90s.
There’s nothing new, inventive, or clever here. It’s mediocre, offers nothing new, and is quite stupid.
But hey, edgy and dark. That excuses everything!
You make some valid points, but dude… Gamergate is over. Get over yourself.
Ive been a fan of the series since Simon’s Quest came out in 1988 and it is also my favorite series of all time, but I enjoyed the Netflix episodes. I also understand that they’re almost more of a prologue of things to come. They had a lot of ground to cover in a very short amount of time. I expect things will be fleshed out more in subsequent episodes.
I understand what you’re saying about the characterizations of Trevor, Dracula, etc, but it’s artistic license. They turned Simon into a dullard in MoF and a narcissistic coward in the old Captain N series, but that’s the problem with writers bringing personality characteristics to characters that initially had none. For all we know, CV3 Trevor wasn’t heroic, was only going on such a quest because the church was paying him a bunch of money he’d eventually drink away. We don’t know.
As for Dracula/Lisa, they set up a relationship between them that would show why Dracula was so heartbroken to the point of genocide when she was killed. She didn’t fear him, she wouldn’t let him scare her, she was shown to be the only kind of woman that someone like Dracula would be able to have that sort of relationship with. It wasn’t her emasculating him, it was him allowing himself to love, an ability he lost after she was murdered, so said Alucard in SoTN. If nothing else, it makes Dracula a much more sympathetic character than if yes just the bug bad from the earlier CV games. So I think you’re bringing baggage to the party that doesn’t exist by thinking that it’s sjw feminist stuff. It doesn’t come off that way at all to me and I’m one of the most anti-sjw people you’ll meet.
As for the church being the main enemy, I think that was a matter of setting things up. I imagine that’ll change in later episodes as Dracula’s character is fleshed out more. Interesting read nonetheless.
It alright that you loved the cartoon, but your trying to deny its ideological charge will naturally make people question the honesty of your remaining claims. That is, are you inspired by your liking of the show, or are you merely trolling…
They didn’t rob Trevor of his heroism though. He organized the villagers and was able to not only help them defend themselves against monsters but also predatory clergy and also saved Sypha from the cyclops. What else do you want him to do? I get you didn’t care for how they characterized him but you can’t objectively say he wasn’t heroic because you didn’t like how they personified him.
Likewise I don’t think Dracula was at all presented like a simp. His actions during the church festival were anything but, and not only that, he killed people, he didn’t just sit in the castle and cry. Lisa is an outcast who doesn’t give a shit and and does what she wants, and in some ways is basically a human version of Dracula. I’ve known women like Lisa in real life, so to me she was plenty human and relatable.
If you didn’t like the characterization, again, thats fine, but being in that this is the comments section and not the actual article (i.e. readers don’t have to read this part) why not say what you would have done to make Trevor and/or the relationship between Dracula and Lisa better rather than just saying it’s “social justice bullshit” and leaving it at that?
Dunno if your recent commenters are trolling (prolly are, what with that gamergate comment) or if they don’t know who Warren Ellis is, but this cartoon’s message is as overtly anti-Christian as you can get. No idea how some people can even try to claim otherwise. Is this what Vox Day means when he talks about self-hating “churchians”?
Felt like I was watching a poor man’s version of Hellsing to be honest.
I’m not butthurt about it in the least, in fact I couldn’t care less. All I’m asking for is what you would have done differently in cases where you say the show failed, not asking you to “rewrite the entire script” as you’ve dramatically implied several times and you won’t even do that. You ARE a writer arent you? And writers CAN have ideas without having to rewrite an entire script, no?
If a reviewer makes claims, they’re expected to back them up with something of substance and you haven’t done that even though you think you have. I just think it’s kind of funny that on a site dedicated to authors, you won’t stand by or qualify the things you’ve written.
What those championing this cartoon wrote about it and its message:
I’m not sure how you could miss it. Ellis fabricated history so he could spit on Christianity. Then there was Strong Female Character that could have come from a modern Marvel comic.
But somehow this is totally different from what SJWs do!
Give me a break. This series is a pile.
The idea that the medieval Church was at odds with science could not be farther from the truth. In general, Christianity has rubbed along with science just fine.
In the minds of scholars, any knowledge of consistent rules was only more proof that God existed.
The idea that Lisa would have been persecuted because of her medical knowledge is completely laughable.
I think it would have been more interesting if Lisa would have been written as both book-smart and religious. Contrary to what simpletons like the writer of this terrible show may believe, medieval intellectuals were both. They could have contrasted her faith with Dracula’s rejection of God.
But fuck any semblance of nuance or exploring any interesting ideas, right? As long as you put in meaningless callbacks to the games (“I clapped, I clapped when I saw things I remembered!”) and dumb, mindless action, fans are willing to overlook a lot of crappy writing, apperently.
Within Catholic theology ‘superstition’ [“hose beliefs and practices which, at least by implication, attribute supernatural or preternatural powers for good or for evil to causes evidently incapable of producing the expected effects.”] is a sin. In Real Life people fled the *Protestant* witch burnings to places subject to the Inquisition for SAFETY.
Based and redpiled. The show is cringe in many ways
The ratings for anything on Netflix should be taken with a grain of salt, if not just fully disregarded.
You only see these things if you’ve specifically gone out of your way to, for one; they aren’t offered to the whole population at once like normal television. For another, the total number of the pool of enthusiastic viewers is obscured by Netflix’s obfuscation of their own ratings.
Do some people like it? Sure, why not? But honestly, some people like all kinds of niche irrelevance.
I cite the Kardashian model; if 3 million people tune in to a show, in a nation of 326 million, it’s still, really, a fringe interest, no matter how much the media tells you everyone else loves it.