‘Shadow and Bone’ is probably Netflix’s most ambitious premiere this April. Adaptation of the popular literary franchise of Leigh BardugoWe are facing a series in which it is evident that a very generous budget has been invested trying to achieve another great success for the platform. Now it remains to be seen how the public reacts to this first installment of the Grishaverso when it opens this coming Friday, April 23.
For my part, I have already been able to see the first four episodes of the eight that make up the debut of ‘Shadow and bone’ and I have to confess that it has not exactly driven me crazy from the start, although it is true that it goes from less to more. Efforts are noted in create your own wide universe with a mythology that serves to awaken the curiosity of the viewer and to expand this universe in such a way that there are enough claims not to throw in the towel despite its limitations.
Lights and shadows
The great protagonist of Alina Starkov -the last name I do not think is a coincidence, because in aspects such as the costumes the series refers you to certain Soviet elements, especially imperial Russia-, a young woman whose life changes when it is discovered that she has powers. The first chapter revolves exclusively around that idea, posing how her previous relationships are so that everything changes to save the person closest to her from certain death.
On paper it is not a bad start, but at the moment of truth it begins to show some elements of Netflix fiction that are a bit annoying. The main one that they forget that the first episode has to serve to hook the viewer and feel the need to continue the journey, both physical and emotional, that its protagonists undertake. Instead, here it feels a bit at half throttle, to go with the foot on the brake so that everything can give more of itself.
It is true that this allows Eric Heisserer, creator of the series and scriptwriter of the first two episodes, to focus more on the particularities of this universe, introducing different concepts and fronts. There it is revealed as a success the fact that ‘Shadow and bone’ adapts at the same time two different sagas but connected to each other, since it brings greater dynamism to the series, not to say that the subplot from the bilogy ‘Six de Cuervos’ that Heisserer sold as a cross between ‘Game of Thrones’ and’ Ocean’s 11 ‘is far more exhilarating than the main one.
Not that there is anything particularly exciting about it, but there ‘Shadow and bone’ knows better how to play with the expectations of the public, first by knowing what exactly they want and then by all the added difficulties that arise along the way, without forget the need to connect it in some way with the central plot. The challenge was very big and I may not have fallen in love, but I did fall in love with Heisserer he gradually makes the characters grow, working much better here than with Alina.
There it gives the feeling that ‘Shadow and bone’ wants to be special but without giving convincing arguments to convey that idea to the viewer. That may be different with those who already love the original material beforehand, but here you have to know as much to reconquer those who already know this world as to offer a seductive gateway to the rest of the public. In the first I am afraid I cannot help you, but in the second it triumphs visually, remaining a bit of no-man’s-land in the narrative.
It is clear that there are going to be many who want to compare ‘Shadow and Bone’ with ‘Game of Thrones’ because of the enormous hook that the HBO series continues to have or with ‘The Witcher’ for being the great Netflix fantasy series, but At the moment of truth, everything feels smaller within the ideas and themes that it handles, more along the lines of proposals such as ‘Damn’ but with a budget or at least a somewhat higher ambition.
That is where frictions arise between an irreproachable visual and technical finish, although it is fair to say that it would be good for him to unleash himself more often since it is only then that he manages to reach a really satisfactory level of intensity, and a somewhat slow story progression, and in which he is also It smells too much what is to come in relation to the protagonist. One thing is a logical progression and another that feels somewhat predictable and discourages you from continuing to watch the series.
Shadow and Bone: Grishaverse, Leftover and Bone trilogy, 1
Not that in the case of ‘Shadow and Bone’ it is especially annoying, but it does limit the series to the point that it is more difficult to let go and want to explore this world. It is a bittersweet sensation that at least is not so accentuated as the episodes progress, but in no case does it disappear, detracting from the dramatic packaging of everything that happens to its protagonist. The cast does what they can to get us involved with their characters, but it is fair to point out that none of them ever shine.
‘Shadow and bone’ is a series with stimulating ideas and quite attractive from a purely visual point of view, but when it comes to the story it tells, it does not quite find the keys necessary to make it feel as important as it seems to be. Despite this, it looks with some pleasure and knows how to give a necessary sense of unity despite having several open fronts.