'Castlevania's Netflix Series And The Long History Of ‘The First Good Video Game Adaptation’

Can Netflix break the video game adaptation curse with 'Castlevania'?
Can Netflix break the video game adaptation curse with 'Castlevania'? Konami

Is there any claim more savory than “this will be the first good video game adaptation”? It gets lips a-lickin’. Who can resist such naked displays of hubris? The inner nihilist in us revels: here, again, is a chance to watch the downfall, as yet another video game adaptation fails, regular as the alarm clock you dream of smashing with a sledgehammer.

It gets even sweeter when it’s Adi Shankar telling Collider “this is going to be the best fucking video game adaptation ever made to date.” If you’re unfamiliar, Shankar is a movie producer behind projects like Dredd, Killing Them Softly, The Grey and Lone Survivor. His track record is better than most (for Dredd alone). But it’s not his movies, it’s his flair for promotion. He’s got that divisive Max Landis swagger that’s instantly suspicious. He’s a cocky dude and anyone who says they don’t want to see cocky dudes fall down — even good cocky dudes — is lying, at least a little bit, and maybe even to themselves. All of us have black bile inside us.

So let us never forget:

Assassin's Creed brand director Azaizia Aymar: "I really think it's going to be a milestone movie… there's going to be a 'before and after Assassin's Creed movie' for sure.”

Warcraft director Duncan Jones: “Warcraft will right the wrongs of game movies.”

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time director Mike Newell: “You’re making the movie because there’s a terrific story, and because the characters are compelling.”

Uwe Boll: “Fuck you all.”

Video game movies fail for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they’re just cynical cash-grabs, like The Angry Birds movie. Sometimes they’re well-intentioned messes like Warcraft. And sometimes they’re made by Uwe Boll. The reasons behind those failures can be creative — there was never a strong character or the plot’s about chasing widgets. Or they can be managerial — a video game company that doesn’t understand movies can get stuck in a narrow brand vision. There are always many ways to fail and few ways to succeed, it just happens to be amplified with video games.

Which brings us to Castlevania, Shankar's new Netflix original series that actually has a lot going for it. Castlevania teams animation-heavy Frederator Studios (Adventure Time, Bee and PuppyCat, The Fairly OddParents) with Warren Ellis, the comic book writer who created Transmetropolitan, The Authority, Global Frequency and Planetary. Though Ellis has been involved with screen adaptations of his work, he’s mostly an unknown quantity as a screenwriter. Still, intriguing.

Castlevania sounds like a potentially interesting project, a “super R-rated” anime-style adaptation. Still, history primes us to laugh at anyone boastful enough to claim that, this time, things will be different.

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