Criticism | Netflix hits the nail on the headline drama ‘Shadow and Bones’

Warning: possible spoilers to come.

When Netflix announces a large-scale adaptation, it’s customary for us to take a step back or be excited to see what the compelling streaming giant will bring to its endless catalog. Among the most well-received productions by audiences and critics alike, we have the fun and unpretentious’ The Old Guard ‘, an action starring Charlize Theron, and the recent replay of the play’ The Supreme Voice of the Blues ”, bringing Chadwick Boseman into his last role before the tragic death. Knowing the platform’s predisposition for the fantasy fiction genre, it’s only natural that it uses multiple titles that follow a familiar, familiar, and welcoming narrative to audiences – and the same goes for the upcoming ‘Shadow and Bones’. ‘, undoubtedly one of the most ambitious projects of the year.

For those who are not familiar, the series is based on the saga of novels signed by Leigh Bardugo, an Israeli writer who decided to move away from the classic London and Celtic interpretations that dominate the mainstream culture and created a magnificent universe, filled with twists and, of course, social criticism masked by magical and mythical metaphors. The central plot is aimed at Alina Starkov (experienced in production by the passionate presence of Jessie Mei Li), an orphan who works as a cartographer of a territory divided by the mysterious presence of the Shadowfold – a wall of dark clouds, impassable and home to deadly creatures that destroy those who dare to enter their domain. Collaborating alongside her best friend and practically brother, Mal Oretsev (Archie Renaux), she discovers that she is, in fact, a member of the Grisha community – individuals who can shape and control the elements of nature, as well as shaping reality to their own -pleasure; more than that, she discovers that she is the summoner of the sun, a rare creature who rises as the salvation of all and can destroy the fold.

As a first step, expect the narrative to follow some basic elements of all fantasy constructions: situating the audience at a certain point in space; present the main problems of the protagonists; and plunge them into a frenzy of metamorphosis that gradually evolves into a cathartic climax and apparent problem solving. Different from what you would expect – and diverging from other similar attacks, like “Once Upon a Time,” to name just one – Alina confronts her true “I” at the end of the first chapter, emerging of a condition martyred by mixed descent and mounted like the heroine that everyone needed. To walk safely on this new path, she is aided by the alluring and mysterious General Kirigan (Ben Barnes), who has the ability to control shadows and, for this reason, is nicknamed Darkling.

Of course, in the meantime, Alina faces an exhaustive number of obstacles: on the one hand, mortals wanting to hunt her down to serve individualistic and selfish purposes or simply use her as an example to rid the world of Grisha and make it “normal”; on the other hand, members of their own race who do not accept their presence and who want to turn their life into hell, as is the case with Zoya (Sujaya Dasgupta), ruler of winds and storms; as if that weren’t enough, a trio of con artists cross the Dobra to kidnap her and take her to the other side, Kerch, formed by Kaz (Freddy Carter), Jesper (Kit Young) and the amazing and circus Inej (embodied with enviable perfection by Amita Suman).

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The multiple plots, likely to merge into an inexplicable heap of actions and consequences, take the necessary time to unfold and never give the appearance of rushing – except for brief slips. Eric Heisserer, saving previous works (including the reflective sci-fi ‘The Arrival’), knows how to control and balance the arc of each protagonist and supporting character to provide maximum depth to each of them, overseeing a creative team that still has a lot of counting. Even so, it’s undeniable to say that as we approach the final episodes of the opening season, something is missing; the obligation not to leave out (and here I am not talking about cliffhangers for future cycles, but crazy decisions that do not correspond to what has been presented) turns out to be a deciding factor of rhythmic bumps and d ‘a long-awaited climax that does not reach its full potential.

In other words, the main background is smeared with a few out of place brushstrokes and forgivable tweaks that are overshadowed by the technical-artistic work. Interpretations aside, it’s the production design that gets our attention the most, mainly due to the refusal to be obvious: of course, Kerch transports us to the Victorian London of so many historic dramas on international television. , but it is Ravka who conquers us with the reinterpretation of a Tsarist Russia marked by militarism, quilted clothing and ceremonial tunics that had a presence in the Romanov dynasty. Both contradictions are fueled by explicit critiques of monarchical demagogy and the undemocratic upheavals of social conservatism materialized by the sparse appearances of Fjerdan soldiers.

“Sombra e Ossos” is a good addition to the Netflix catalog and an original initiative when you think of the countless adaptations that come out year after year in the audiovisual industry. Betting on the humanity of its characters and a solid plot, the series functions as great entertainment that makes us eager to find out what will happen next.

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