- Summary: When Fiver (voiced by Nicholas Hoult) has a vision of the destruction of Sandleford Warren, his brother Hazel (voiced by James McAvoy) and a group of other rabbits leave to find a new home. Along the way they meet other rabbits and face a number of obstacles that include predators, theWhen Fiver (voiced by Nicholas Hoult) has a vision of the destruction of Sandleford Warren, his brother Hazel (voiced by James McAvoy) and a group of other rabbits leave to find a new home. Along the way they meet other rabbits and face a number of obstacles that include predators, the weather, humans, and other animals in this four-part adaptation of the Richard Adams novel.… Expand
- Genre(s): Animation, Drama, Movie/Mini-Series
- Show Type: Mini-Series
- Season 1 premiere date: Dec 23, 2018
- More Details and Credits »
It is rigorously intelligent, absolutely thrilling, and--unless the kids are about 17--definitely not for children. ... One of its virtues is its fidelity to the source material—dark, filled with dread, marked by stinging indictments of fascism, fundamentalism and cruelty. Being so true to itself, it’s utterly absorbing--once you get past the fact that the principal characters are rabbits. ... All the performances are convincing.
Despite cheap computer-animation, director Noam Murro (“300: Rise of an Empire”) and writer Tom Bidwell (“My Mad Fat Diary”) evoke a strong sense of empathy for the animals while crafting a stirring limited series built on big, frightening themes of life and death along with more humble thoughts on love, friendship, and socialism.
Allowing for the sweetness in Adams' original work to come out in this modern take is part of what makes the BBC-Netflix version of Watership Down work best. The conversations and character development of the rabbits are the bricks that build the story. And while the animation is at first a downside--seemingly retro, too saturated with brown and black tones, making many of the rabbits indistinguishable from one another--that limitation allows the voice work to shine, which of course relies heavily on Adams' lovely descriptions.
Emotional but blandified adaptation. ... If the Netflix Watership Down fails its potential, it benefits from strong voice performances (Boyega is expressive as the bluff but loyal Bigwig) and a solid central story. Even this easy-listening version, which lays on the romance, jokes and limp dialogue (“They may not have wanted a war, but by Frith, that’s what they’ll get”), has moments of grandeur and the sweep of a fantasy epic.
Luckily, the story is so good that it shines above the shoddy animation, but the 1978 adaptation is still a better bet and the original story itself is still the best. Give this one a watch only if you can stomach the visuals and the visceral material.
Dec 23, 2018Watership Down in overall is a great retelling of this classic.
Although there are some flaws in the series like some changes between theWatership Down in overall is a great retelling of this classic.
Although there are some flaws in the series like some changes between the novel itself, this remake tells so greatly without even being too horrific like the 1978 film.
I praised the performances of James McAvoy, John Boyega, and Sir Ben Kingsley as Hazel, Bigwig, and General Woundwort respectively.
The animation was done nicely, the music is just majestic. The music brings joy, tragedy, and suspense.
I recommend this.… Expand
Dec 26, 2018Unlike most TV shows, Watership Down could have benefited from at least one or two additional episodes. I just read the book for the firstUnlike most TV shows, Watership Down could have benefited from at least one or two additional episodes. I just read the book for the first time last year, and I was enthralled by its portrayal of rabbit culture and mythology. Sadly, many of the finer points of both of these aspects have been omitted in the final product, but regardless, this adaptation represents just about everything I could have hoped for. The story is true to the book, and hits all of the high notes that I'd hoped would be addressed The voice actors are great, although the animation makes it difficult to distinguish between rabbits. I recommend watching with subtitles, as these often help you know who's speaking.
Another note about the animation - it looks fantastic, as long as the rabbits aren't moving. For still shots (or even just conversations) everything looks finely detailed. As soon as the rabbits start moving, their movements seem stunted and slow, and you realize that the character models don't interact with their environment. It gives the entire production the appearance of a children's cartoon - low budget and half-hearted. It also makes the fight sequences less thrilling, but still overall satisfying.
I'm still overall pleased with the resulting product, although I wish there had been a finer level of polish across the animation and a deeper level of detail in addressing the rabbit world of Watership Down.… Expand
Jan 2, 2019This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I can't believe I waited so long for this remake only to be so disappointed on multiple fronts. I could write a long detailed review, but I'll be brief and list just a few things.
- The rabbit's speech mannerisms are too human. The needless banter about other does from bucks and one-off lines detract from the story and immersion in the world of rabbits. They shouldn't try to act like the humans they detest. I cannot believe Richard Adams would approve of this change.
- Bigwig was not a jerk who challenged Hazel's authority at every turn in the beginning. He was a friend to him and the others from the start even if he was unsure where they would end up.
- The weaving in of additional events like Hazel entering the farm house itself to free the hutch rabbits are not believable (...he says writing a review about talking rabbits). Nor would he simply pull out the metal nail in the hutch like it was nothing. This is just one scene, but overlooking it was too much for me.
- The animation and rabbit movement mechanics can be overlooked in about 15 minutes or so after the start, but it is below par by today's standard.
I admit that we'd all love to see so much more of the book with its depth and stories of El-ahrairah make it to the video screen, but doing so would be such a monumental task. I think this story falls short due to it's hurried pacing and impression that their plans at every turn were improvised vs. the well thought out plans from the novel.
When I wish to watch Watership Down on video in the future, I will choose to view the 1978 version because of its adventure, wonder, and emotion.… Expand
Dec 27, 2018For the uninitiated, Watership Down (2018) is the Netflix adaptation of the novel of the same name by Richard Adams, written in 1972. ThereFor the uninitiated, Watership Down (2018) is the Netflix adaptation of the novel of the same name by Richard Adams, written in 1972. There have been a few iterations, from the animated film of 1978 to the animated series that ran from 1999 to 2001.
First off, I have not read the book, nor have I watched any other iteration of the show; therefore, my review is based solely on the quality of the miniseries.
As such, let's get the good out of the way, first. The Netflix adaptation comes with a powerhouse voice cast, with James McAvoy, Gemma Arterton, Peter Capaldi, Daniel Kaluuya, Ben Kingsley, and John Boyega, to name a few. The story is meant for children, but does not shy away from the darkness of the world, even if they are in the form of rabbits and other animals. It tells an interesting story of trust, liberty, and love, and what it means to fight for something you believe in.
That's the good. The bad is that, if you don't like the way Watership Down looks in its first five minutes, you're not going to want to watch it. Watership Down looks like something out of a computer game in the early 2000s, with choppy animation, poor expressions, and even poorer character design.
Apart from a few characters, namely Bigwig, Bluebell, and sometimes Fiver, I often struggled to tell the characters apart, which leads me to my next issue: the characters.
The characters are not particularly deep or complex; something that is to be expected from source material (for children) from the 70s. The good bunnies are good because they fight for good things, and the bad bunnies are bad because they're evil and oppressive for no other reason than to be so. The baddest bunny is General Woundwort, voiced by Ben Kingsley, a big scary hulk of a rabbit that has his own warren and runs it as a prison for... reasons. Reasons that don't need to be explained because he's the bad guy. That's what bad bunnies do. The female bunnies exist as one of few options: diggers, mates, or oppressed. This is made all the more ironic when you realise that rabbits are actually matriarchies, and the founding of a new warren is often done by young, dissatisfied does, rather than bucks.
However, it is that Old English mentality that is the lifeblood of Watership Down, a Victorian ( or World War I–era, at the very least) premise of brotherhood above all, where the men go charging into battle while the women swoon and pray for their speedy return.
This is also contradicted by the lead rabbit, Hazel, in a few scenes towards the end where, when all hope seems lost, he refuses to leave his post in the hopes that his lady love, Clover, will return, giving no thought at all to his brother-in-arms, Bigwig, also holed up/detained within the same area. The characters themselves are fairly one-note. Hazel is the leader, Bigwig is the brawn, Bluebell is the soft one, and so on and so forth.
Setting all this aside, Watership Down does manage to keep things interesting and it never felt dull, or like it was progressing too slowly. It sets out to tell a story, and a story it does tell, which is nice to hear, but not necessarily nice to see.
Once again, I will praise the voice cast, without whom this series would be abysmal. The score is passable and doesn't particularly stand out against everything else. If you love the book, stick with it. If you're curious to try something new, well, there's no harm in Watership Down if you can stomach the CGI.… Expand
Jan 27, 2019This series is based on one of those novels I always thought I should read. Never got around to it -- maybe it would have helped? I sloggedThis series is based on one of those novels I always thought I should read. Never got around to it -- maybe it would have helped? I slogged through every episode, but found it boring and pointless, the supposed "political" aspects of the story lost in the bunny-filled landscape. Most disappointing was the incredibly dull, monochromatic look of the thing. Overall, neither thought-provoking nor enjoyable.… Expand