Julien Neaves, Editor
There are some universally accepted truths. What goes up must come down. The earth revolves around the sun. Video game adaptations are bad. Okay that last one is more general public opinion, but it is true that almost all film versions of video games have ranged from decent (Sonic the Hedgehog, Tomb Raider reboot), to mediocre (Prince of Persia, Warcraft), to downright abysmal (Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, anything from Uwe Boll). The 1995 Mortal Kombat film is my favourite adaptation but it is by no stretch of the imagination a great movie. We are getting a Mortal Kombat reboot on April 23, and I for one am concerned that they will not do the beloved and long-running fighting game franchise justice.
But streaming juggernaut Netflix has begun bucking the trend of disappointing video game adaptations by going the anime-inspired series route. For three seasons their take on horror adventure series Castlevania has been excellent and in many ways has even surpassed its source material. And with the recently released DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, an adaptation of 2013 multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game Dota 2 by Valve, Netflix has delivered another winner. Here’s my spoiler free review:
The eight-episode first season follows Dragon Knight Davion who becomes embroiled in a vast conflict involving dragons, dragon slayers, elves, men, a god, and a demon. Now I have never played Dota 2 (nor Dota 1 for that matter) so I have no idea whether the story is an accurate representation, but I did my research. And by research I asked my brother-in-law who is a longtime player and he said the characters and story are all spot on. So I’m taking his word for it.
I can confirm, however, that the voice cast here is very good. Davion is played by Yuri Lowenthal who has voiced roles in anime like Naruto and Gurren Lagann, voiced teenage Ben Tennyson in superhero animated series Ben 10, and featured on a slew of video games including Prince of Persia, Castlevania, and Spider-Man: Miles Morales. Here Lowenthal does well as the brave but rakish knight. I also enjoyed Lara Pulver (Spooks, Sherlock) as the forthright Princess Mirana, Troy Baker as the mysterious Invoker, Tony Todd (Night of the Living Dead 1990 remake, Candyman), as the awesome dragon Slyrak the Ember Eldwyrm, Kari Wahlgren as brutal elf warrior Luna, and Alex Wilton Regan as the beautiful and power-obsessed moon goddess Selemene. And though not voiced I will throw in Mirana’s silent but deadly bodyguard Marci as she kicks a lot of backside.
The animation, which is a mix of Western and anime influences, is gorgeous. The characters are well-detailed (though they all have an odd bow-looking nose for some reason), the environments rich, and the lights and shadows all eye catching. And speaking of anime, this show has its fair share of blood and gore. Limbs are cut off, people are decapitated and skewered, and blood soaks the ground. And I’m something of a gore hound so I soaked it all up. There is also some profanity and brief nudity, reinforcing that this is an adult show.
But blood and gore alone does not make for a great action sequence. Thankfully DOTA also delivers with thrilling battles and some breathtaking sequences. My action quota was constantly filled and I was not bored at all.
In between the action and blood letting there are some scenes of humour, romance, and tragedy. It is all told against the backdrop of a world rich in lore and culture. And this is one world that I want to revisit with a Season 2.
So if you like your fantasy mature and deep then I suggest you take a journey into DOTA: Dragon’s Blood.
Editor Jules’s Score: 8.5 out of 10
So have you seen DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Season 1? How would you rate it? For my review of Netflix’s animated fantasy series Blood of Zeus you can click here. Or for my review of Season 1 of anime Demon Slayer Kimetsu No Yaiba you can click here.
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. I can also be found posting about TV and movie memes, news and trailers on Facebook at Movieville. And to stay on top of all Redmangoreviews articles you can like and follow us on Facebook here.