Richard Adams' 1972 novel of leporine self-determination—and how brutish and short a rabbit's life can be—gets a CGI-enhanced update courtesy of Netflix and the BBC, along with an impressive voice cast that includes Ben Kingsley, James McAvoy, and John Boyega.
The four-part miniseries hits all the monomyth beats—Watership Down is The Odyssey, and Lost, and a thousand other stories. The heroic rabbits are cast out from their home and must overcome obstacles both physical and moral to find a new one. Led by the wise-beyond-his-years Hazel (McAvoy), the warren resists the promise of an easy life with a religious cult that willingly trades lives for a farmer's protection. They also battle an authoritarian rabbit regime led by the despotic General Woundwort (Kingsley).
The CGI rabbits look a bit clunky at times—particularly when they are running, and rabbits run a lot—but the miniseries captures the universal allure of autonomy, and depicts the constant struggle required to maintain it.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Watership Down".
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