Sunday, May 29Urban Hippie

'The Legend of Vox Machina' puts a zany twist on fantasy — with killer results

Craving a new fantasy fix? Look no further than The Legend of Vox Machina.

Based on the web series Critical Role’s first Dungeons and Dragons campaign, this adult cartoon series introduces a party of mercenaries, who are as dysfunctional as they are fun to watch. Their name? Vox Machina. Their goal? To settle their considerable bar tab. (And also maybe save the kingdom of Tal’Dorei, who knows.)

Our merry band includes Grog (Travis Willingham), a giant with a thirst for ale (and murder); Percy (Taliesin Jaffe), a gunslinger with a dark past; Keyleth (Marisha Ray), a druid on a quest to prove herself; twins ​​Vex’ahlia (Laura Bailey) and Vax’ildan (Liam O’Brien), who have always had each other’s backs; Pike (Ashley Johnson), a cleric with a divine connection to the Everlight; and Scanlan (Sam Riegel), a bard whose skill for bawdy songwriting is unmatched. They also have an adorable, yet fierce, bear companion named Trinket (Matthew Mercer).

A smiling giant holds an axe

He would like to rage.
Credit: Amazon Studios

When we first meet Vox Machina, they’re a collection of outcasts on the hunt for coin wherever they can get it. Some are exiled. Some are running from their pasts. But all are exceptional fighters and magic users. They’re also boozy, horny, and prone to swearing. Heroes: they’re just like us!

As selfish and flawed as they can be, Vox Machina’s shortcomings are a breath of fresh air. They aren’t perfect protagonists, and they shouldn’t be. When we meet them at the start of the series, life has already broken them down to the point that they laugh off the idea of trying to do good. They take on a quest to rid Tal’Dorei of an unknown evil not out of the kindness of their hearts, but because they want the reward.


They’re also boozy, horny, and prone to swearing. Heroes: they’re just like us!

As the series progresses, we see them begin to build each other back up. The Legend of Vox Machina is at its most emotionally resonant when the characters let down their barriers and receive support from their team. This is especially true of Percy, whose past trauma fuels this season’s plot in a major way and is treated with the appropriate gravitas.

Before I make The Legend of Vox Machina sound like a gritty fantasy drama, I should stress that this show is funny. It’s full of witty banter, send-ups of fantasy tropes, and what I can only describe as a disco ball codpiece. In short, it’s the kind of chaos you can expect from playing an RPG with your friends.

The humor; however, sometimes fumbles. The sheer volume of jokes threatens to undermine some of the show’s more important moments. But by the end of the first six episodes sent to critics for review, The Legend of Vox Machina finds its tonal footing and successfully juggles the absurd, the dramatic, and the absolutely epic.

A half-elf holds a ball of light above her head

Light ’em up, Keyleth!
Credit: Amazon Studios

Whether they’re conjuring magical vines or cleaving foes in half, this squad knows how to pack a punch, and they look great doing it. Thanks to eye-catching animation from Titmouse, Vox Machina’s skill sets — and a healthy amount of cartoon gore — pop off the screen. One fight in the second episode had me leaping out of my chair because of its sheer awesomness.

“This sounds cool,” you may be thinking. “But do I have to know much about Critical Role or Dungeons and Dragons to enjoy The Legend of Vox Machina?”

The answer is no! The Legend of Vox Machina stands on its own. You can be a complete novice and enjoy the show. For reference, I only got into Dungeons and Dragons and Critical Role in 2021, and I still loved it. At worst, you’ll miss a couple of Easter eggs, but nothing too plot-relevant.


“The Legend of Vox Machina” revels in its silliness and its epic battles, but it also knows when to slow down and let its characters breathe.

If you are a Critical Role fan, you’ll be pleased to know that there are several callbacks to The Legend of Vox Machina‘s source material. Composer Neal Acree’s score frequently nods to the Critical Role theme “Your Turn to Roll.” An iconic in-universe book makes a surprising appearance. Fan-favorite non-player characters like shopkeeper Shaun Gilmore (Sunil Malhotra) get their chance in the spotlight. And of course, fans will delight in how villainous power couple Sylas and Delilah Briarwood (Mercer and Grey Griffin) come to life in all their glory.

All this is to say that The Legend of Vox Machina clearly has a lot of love and care built into it. You can hear this care in the exceptional performances from each of the eight Critical Role cast members, who created these characters and have played them for years. They also serve as executive producers on the show, working to recapture the spirit of the original campaign.

The result is an exceedingly fun fantasy romp. The Legend of Vox Machina revels in its silliness and its epic battles, but it also knows when to slow down and let its characters breathe. So, be sure to join the party and ride along with Vox Machina. I promise you’ll have the time of your life.

The Legend of Vox Machina is now streaming on Prime Video, with new episodes every Friday.


Source: Marshable