Dota: Dragon’s Blood Book 3 Review
Dota: Dragon’s Blood Book 3 debuts on Netflix on August 11, 2022.
Dragon’s Blood is Valve and Studio Mir’s attempt to present a more cohesive version of the Dota franchise’s tangle of lore, and for the most part Book 3 does a good job of wrapping up the mess left by Book 2 – and Book 2 was definitely a mess. If you missed it (you’ll have to watch it before jumping into this one, of course), it felt like two seasons squeezed into one with uneven pacing, dodgy writing, and lackluster animation. Luckily, Book 3 echoes Book 1, with its charming characters and spectacular animations. Ultimately, however, what could be Dragon’s Blood’s final season is bogged down by its overambitious attempts to blend multiple main themes and new ideas into a limited time frame. But if you managed to hold Book 2, this episode contains some exciting moments that almost make up for some of its unevenness.
In Dragon’s Blood Book 3, heroes Mirana, Davion, Luna, and their allies are forced to fully join Invoker and Terrorblade’s fight for control of the universe. The fallout from these events carry the rest of the season.
Unfortunately, Book 3 is forced to start by picking up the pieces of the season that preceded it. If it wasn’t already obvious that Book 2 would have been better off in two separate seasons, the first two episodes of Book 3 seem to have been a more fitting finale than a premiere. The events of the first two episodes are clearly separated from the rest of the season in a meaningful way as they culminate in one major event. That being said, they’re an exciting way to start the season, even if it seems like some big secondary character moments were rushed in to push the overall plot forward. I felt that especially with Bram’s storyline, which is a shame because he’s such a fun character.
Book 3 finds a better rhythm in the events following Episode 2. We won’t spoil the details, but those details give the series a satisfying twist. This season also sees the culmination of its major themes reach their climax; fate, destiny, choice, trust, dedication and madness. That’s a lot, and unfortunately, the final exploration of these questions ends up a bit confusing at the end due to some conflicting actions. There’s a lot of character introspection questioning many of these themes, at least.
The most compelling of the characters was, surprisingly, the one who had very little screen time until this season. This is partly because their motivations saw their full development in Book 3 rather than being rushed into Book 1 or 2 like the rest of the cast. It was a little disappointing to see a few once quite important characters quickly disappear without much satisfying explanation, which I suspect is again due to time constraints. There was also an important new character whose situation was incredibly important for this season, but whose raison d’etre was a quick side note that wasn’t well explained.
I also wish there was more time to dig deeper into the characters’ abilities and motivations. Dota 2 has many heroes with complex magic and powers and even more twisted ties to lore that Studio Mir is adapting. They tap into it all, some of which is brilliantly on display in this seemingly final season. However, without much context for some of these people, the motivations can be confusing and some power spikes seem too convenient. I’m sure anyone watching and unfamiliar with Dota 2 will just have to shrug their shoulders at a number of these events. That’s not to say we need a character telling Dota 2 tooltips to get the hang of it, but instead seeing some less-explored characters having a moment or two to show who they are and what they are. could do would have been helpful.
Dragon’s Blood still has a penchant for gratuitous F-bombs and the occasional weird transition (plus a few clunky CGs here and there, but that’s not uncommon in animation these days), but it’s still better than the major part of what we saw in Book 2. The storyline is especially more consistent this season. Fymryn doesn’t absurdly ask what a murderous dragon is doing that chases her and Davion when he obviously intends to eat them, for example. Instead, in Book 3, Fymryn is deservedly introspective and shrewd.
The best part of this show, however, is the return of consistent and sometimes impressive animation. Characters are deeply expressive when needed, and finer details return to scenes again. Something as simple as melting snow water dripping from a freshly hung coat might seem uninspiring, but it’s a great example of how the environment in Book 3 comes to life. The fight scenes, especially in the penultimate episode, are really where the Studio Mir animators show up. If the story isn’t what appeals to you, at least stick around for the great fights.
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