With recent remakes “The Jungle Book” and “The Lion King” showing audiences how modern CGI can create photorealistic animals and tell a heartfelt story, it makes sense that Netflix and BBC would team up to adapt one of the best novels of the 20th century, “Watership Down.” The novel’s tale of a group of rabbits escaping their home and hoping to find a place to settle elsewhere is tailor-made for a great TV adaptation, utilizing modern technology.
Look, there’s no easy way to say this. The trailer for “Watership Down” is finally here, and while the cast for this adaptation of the classic story is fantastic, the animation that is supposed to bring the characters to life is…well, terrible. We don’t normally enjoy writing off projects based on the trailer alone, and there’s a chance that the footage seen in this “Watership Down” first look is not complete, but there’s no way you can watch that and not be concerned with the finished product.
The good news is that the cast hired to voice the various animals in the story is top notch. The cast is led by James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, John Boyega, Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton, Daniel Kaluuya, Olivia Colman, and Peter Capaldi. But that’s not all, there are also appearances by Taron Egerton, Gemma Chan, Tom Wilkinson, and Rosamund Pike. This is a cast that can compete toe-to-toe with the likes of Disney’s aforementioned remakes. But yet, will all that talent behind-the-scenes be overshadowed by animation that fails to deliver?
The four-episode miniseries has a reported budget of over $25 million. And you would assume that with over $6 million per episode, we could be looking at quality on par with any show on TV. Let’s just hope that all that money didn’t just go to the vocal talent.
“Watership Down” premieres on BBC on December 22 and will eventually hit Netflix soon after.