The reviews are in for the much-hyped BBC and Netflix revival of Watership Down – and while the voice cast has reveived high praise, the CGI and overall tone of the reboot haven’t gone down well with critics.
It was deemed “tame, drab and deeply unsatisfying” by The Guardian, whose critic Lucy Mangan asked: “What, really, was the point?”
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The CGI got a lot of flack. Den of Geek’s review noted that “while it makes the rabbits more realistic in comparison to the 1978 film”, they move “jerkily” and “strangely”.
Meanwhile, The Telegraph added that the production is “a smart take on a classic tale, hindered by soulless CGI”.
The remake very much exists in the shadow of the original, with many critics drawing negative comparisons with Martin Rosen’s “idiosyncratic, hallucinatory masterpiece”.
For example, The Guardian describes the modern version as “far too tame and deracinated to engage adults” and bemoans the lack of “rabbits struggling over the dead bodies of their gassed comrades as the developers tear up the burrow” and the absence of “truly terrifying visions from Fiver”.
That said, Den of Geek suggests that “you’d have to be made of stone to not get a little something in your eye at the close of director Noam Murro’s two-part series” and the i hails the remake as “dramatic, harrowing and poignant”.
The star-studded cast, which includes Nicholas Hoult, John Boyega and Olivia Colman, was complimented by most critics for its diversity and Rosamund Pike was lauded by The Guardian for being “completely and unfathomably captivating as the Black Rabbit of Inlé”.
Peter Capaldi’s Kehaar was also described as the “real highlight” by our own writer, but according to The Guardian his character’s appearances were “wastefully… cut down to a few fleeting scenes”.
The overall consensus of the Watership Down revival, which aired in two 90-minute parts on BBC1, seems to be: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.