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‘The Legend of Vox Machina’: A band of misfits fails upward. What happens next may shock you!

| Thursday, February 3, 2022

Claire Kirner | The Observer
Image sources: The Gamer, Screen Rant

A great evil is afoot in the kingdom of Tal’Dorei, and it is up to the greatest heroes in the land to stop it. Except those great heroes suffer a gory death within their first minute of screen time, complete with one of the heroes crying out expletives after one of his compatriots gets crushed by a rock. 

This irreverent, entertaining subversion of expectations sets the tone for Amazon Prime’s newest animated adult fantasy, “The Legend of Vox Machina.” The actual protagonists of this series are the eponymous Vox Machina, a band of seven not-so-successful mercenaries.

The mysterious monster that killed the greatest heroes of Tal’Dorei is still threatening to destroy the kingdom, so the land’s leaders send out a call for someone to defeat this evil. Vox Machina decides to answer it, not out of an obligation to the greater good, but because they are flat broke and need the money this job can give them. Thus begins Vox Machina’s journey to becoming the land’s greatest protectors — that is, if they even survive their first job.

“The Legend of Vox Machina” is based on the hit web series “Critical Role,” which is a stream of Dungeons & Dragons campaigns led by Dungeon Master Matt Mercer, a voice actor, with a group of fellow voice actors making up the rest of the crew. “The Legend of Vox Machina” adapts the first campaign of “Critical Role,” with the cast reprising their roles in the show and Mercer voicing background and supporting characters. This series was funded by a Kickstarter campaign with an initial goal of $750,000 to produce a one-episode special. The campaign ended up raising a record-breaking $11.3 million and has already been renewed for a second season by Amazon. 

With the amount of love fans have for the original web series, “The Legend of Vox Machina” had a lot of expectations to live up to. However, after viewing the first three episodes of the ten-episode first season, fans of “Critical Role” have absolutely nothing to worry about. This series has all the charm of watching a group of close friends play a D&D campaign with the addition of beautifully animated and directed action setpieces to enhance the experience. 

The first few episodes do an excellent job of establishing the dynamic of Vox Machina without getting bogged down by heavy exposition. In a clever move by the show, Vox Machina’s members and their powers are quickly introduced through song by the bard of the group, Scanlan, who has several other memorable musical moments in the first three episodes. The show also does a good job of suggesting hidden depth for each character, with the tragic backstories of several characters being hinted at in these first episodes. 

The voice acting performances for the members of Vox Machina are all excellent, with great chemistry and comedic timing from the actors. Even the supporting characters have actors such as David Tennant and Stephanie Beatriz giving great performances. 

One of the main draws for this show is its irreverent comedy and banter. However, there are moments when the comedy falls glaringly flat. One of the members of the crew is a goliath named Grog, whose entire personality is being dumb and strong. We’re supposed to just laugh whenever he says something inane, and it always falls flat. The gnome bard Scanlan also has moments where his irreverent attitude just comes off as annoying. The jokes land for the most part, but when a joke doesn’t work, it’s glaringly bad. Another issue with this series is how generic the land of Tal’Dorei is. The setting is a bland fantasy with nothing new to showcase, but the characters’ personalities are original enough to partially make up for this shortcoming.

“The Legend of Vox Machina” is a fun, new fantasy series with amusing characters and top-notch animation, perfect for fans of “Critical Role” and D&D, or just fantasy in general. The first three episodes are available to stream on Amazon Prime, with new episodes premiering Fridays. 

 

Show: “The Legend of Vox Machina”

Starring: Matthew Mercer, Marisha Ray, Ashley Johnson

Favorite episode: “The Feast of Realms”

If you like: “Critical Role,” Dungeons & Dragons

Where to watch: Amazon Prime

Shamrocks: 4 out of 5 

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