Arcane sets the bar high for video game adaptations
Understandably, video game film adaptations are typically looked poorly upon. Wave after wave of underwhelming adaptations of gaming classics have hit the big screen, but they have never received critical or popular acclaim.
However, not this time. Arcane swings for the fences in every way and wins every time. This Netflix series, from the heart-pounding action to the painting-like animation aesthetic to the soft emotional moments, is a must-watch.
It is, simply said, magnificent. It's the perfect video game adaptation, bringing the characters from ‘League of Legends’ (LOL) to the small screen while retaining all of the quirks and features fans have grown to expect from LOL.
Even those who are unfamiliar with the games will find something to like in this presentation, which is both visually spectacular and narratively impressive.
The plot of this narrative takes place in a world on the approach of total war. The utopian Piltover (a city of LOL) can be found above ground. They're thriving, thanks to food left out irresponsibly on rooftops and limitless rays of sunshine. In essence, these men have a lot of money. Below ground, though, the story is rather different.
The underground metropolis of Zaun (also known as the Undercity) is struggling, and its resentment of Piltover's advancements appears to be ripe for a rebellion.
Powder and Vi, two sisters, are at the heart of this epic battle. Their friendship is ultimately what propels this series ahead and the show does an excellent job of depicting their different paths to becoming the legendary League of Legends champions.
The opposing fortunes of these two sisters are triumphant and tragic, and they are spread out across the nine episodes to terrible effect. The two sisters, however, are only one cog in this well-oiled mechanism, as the viewers are introduced to various other individuals who form a greater whole.
Silco, the maniacal villain, aims to raise his own army and force Zaun to rise up and become a powerhouse like Piltover.
To accomplish this, he persuades one of the sisters to accompany him, while making a blueprint to take the Hex stone from Piltover. These orbs are potent magical artefacts with unfathomable power. Jayce and Victor, two aspiring scientists in Piltover, resolve to use this capability to enhance the growth of their city.
The political and social themes at work in this series are nicely balanced with the drama and suspense components, allowing the film to both construct the worldbuilding for this fantasy land and effectively juxtapose our own capitalist world.
A rich/poor split, substance misuse, and even mental health concerns are all covered, resulting in a dizzying concoction that is as conceptually pertinent at the end as it is at the beginning.
The pacing is excellent here as well. Arcane has pulsing music and a soundtrack to boot. Every montage serves a broader purpose and the show has the fortitude and ingenuity to leave out some of the exposition dumps to allow the program to visually depict what's going on.
The show, co-created by French studio Fortiche Production and Riot Games, employs a distinct style of animation that is neither cell-shaded nor CGI.
The backdrops are hand-painted digitally and all of the effects are fully 2D. It has a genuine matte painting quality to it, which adds to Arcane's strength and uniqueness.
Aside from the open conclusion and a few minor character flaws, Arcane is without a doubt one of the best videogame adaptations of all time. It's an excellent example of how, with the correct intentions, video games can be converted and brought to life for both enthusiasts and newbies.