Netflix Mini-Review – Castlevania (Season 3): What Happens Between Draculas

Dracula got killed at the end of last season, but that just means the forces of Hell aren’t organized, not that they’re gone.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) managed to finally kill Dracula (Graham McTavish) with the help of Dracula’s son Alucard (James Callis) and the magician Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso). While Alucard decides to watch over his father’s castle and the Belmont library, Trevor and Sypha head out to start working on killing monsters together as a couple. Following Dracula’s demise, his forces are separated. Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack), one of Dracula’s two devil forgemasters capable of turning corpses into demons, starts assembling an army of his creations. The other forgemaster, Hector (Theo James), is held captive by four female vampires: Carmilla (Jaime Murray), Lenore (Jessica Brown Findlay), Morana (Yasmine Al Massri), and Striga (Ivana Milicevic). They want his powers for their own uses. Alucard gets two students in vampire slaying by the names of Taka and Sumi (Toru Uchikado and Rila Fukushima). Trevor and Sypha find a city run by a very strict Judge (Jason Isaacs) and populated by the mysterious Baron St. Germain (Bill Nighy) and the insane priest Sala (Navid Negahban). The two are tasked by the Judge to find out why devil marks are appearing around the town. 

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They’re a very attractive crew of badasses. 

END SUMMARY

So, for those of you who played the games, the end of last season corresponded roughly with the end of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse and this season takes place between that and Castlevania: Curse of Darkness and may potentially be setting up for that storyline in the next season. Dracula is gone this season, but many characters point out that it definitely doesn’t make the world much better. Dracula, while he did eventually hate humanity to the point of wanting to exterminate them all for the loss of his wife, typically kept all of the demons, vampires, and monsters under his control, reducing their overall threat. Now, the forces of Hell are all competing against each other for territory and trying to expand as fast as possible. No matter who wins, humanity loses. 

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Isaac, the human, is the biggest threat, because he was the most abused.

This season does suffer a bit from being kind of a transitional story. We see Trevor and Sypha facing off against a different kind of opponent than the previous fare, but it’s a slower burn. Their plot is mostly kept interesting by the presence of good supporting characters, particularly the Baron St. Germain who is based off of both his video game and real-life counterparts. In real life, the Count of Saint Germain was a rich man who constantly made absurd assertions such as time-travel and immortality and this version is much the same, except possibly telling the truth. Bill Nighy is excellent at selling his naturally unusual dialogue. 

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Also, he’s a straight-up pimp.

Meanwhile, we’re following Isaac’s attempt to find his own place in the world when he no longer works for Dracula. It’s interesting to follow a villain during his own refusal of the call period, but it plays out really well. Hector’s story consists mostly of him interacting with the vampire Lenore, who is part of a cabal of female vampires who want both equality for women and dominance for vampires, which is kind of an interesting dichotomy. Alucard doesn’t have a villain, instead focusing on dealing with training two human students in monster hunting as a way to deal with his own loneliness. 

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#Feminism? 

While the season doesn’t have a cohesive plot, it makes up for it by spending more time exploring the characters and the world, as well as having some excellent action sequences. It’s a lot darker in tone, particularly towards humanity, and that’s saying something. 

Overall, the show is still going strong and I can’t wait to see the next part (please don’t cancel it, Netflix).

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – Castlevania Seasons 1 & 2 (Spoiler-Free on Season 2)

Yesterday, The Adventure Zone podcast did a Halloween special which had a reference to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night that I just couldn’t stop laughing at, even though it was so straightforward. But, either way, I decided to do a bonus review of Castlevania in their honor.

Netflix decided to take a shot at every other studio out there by adapting a video game and, despite all of the past history of adapting video games to a narrative (Phoenix Wright notwithstanding), did it really well. Admittedly, the history of adapting video games to television (particularly cartoon series) is much stronger than to the big screen, but those were mostly aimed towards children. This is very much aimed towards people who played the original Castlevania games on the NES, all of whom are now adults.

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Or, if you’re like me, on the SNES.

SUMMARY

Vlad Tepes Dracula (Graham McTavish) is… You f*cking know who Dracula is. Well, he’s out there Dracking it up when he is visited by a young woman named Lisa (Emily Swallow) who wishes to be a doctor and believes that Dracula would be the person who would know the most about human medicine, as he has collected books for centuries on every subject and read them all. Not only is she correct, surprisingly, but her resolve towards science and medicine takes Dracula off-guard and he ends up falling in love with her and marrying her. She tries to teach him of the positive traits of humanity and he begins to soften.

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A surprisingly solid relationship for a vampire and a snack.

Unfortunately, twenty-ish years later, Lisa is accused of being a witch (because she’s a doctor and a woman) and is burned at the stake. This leads Dracula to declare that he will spend one year creating an army of the damned, after which he will kill everyone in Wallachia, the kingdom that murdered her. The phrase “Y’all done f*cked up now” comes to mind. Sure enough, one year later, he kills everyone in the town in a gruesome fashion and declares war on humanity. All the noble houses get blamed, including a house known as Belmont.

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When this is how the guy tells you you’re screwed, YOU ARE SCREWED.

A few months later, Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), the last of a line of monster hunters, is broke and drunk in a city that is besieged by the forces of darkness every night. The clergy (who started this whole mess) have used this as an opportunity to take power in the area, claiming to be the only force capable of repelling the evil, and blame a group of traveling magic users called the Speakers for Dracula’s assault. Trevor saves some of the Speakers and is told by the Elder (Tony Amendola) that there is a “sleeping soldier” beneath the city who may help save them. The Elder’s granddaughter already sought the soldier but has not returned. Trevor goes below the city and finds a cyclops guarding a crypt. Trevor slays the monster, which releases one of his petrified victims, the Elder’s granddaughter Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso). The pair continue and eventually discover the sleeping soldier is none other than Dracula’s half-human son, Adrian Tepes or “Alucard” (James Callis), who was wounded fighting his father a year prior. The three join forces to stop Dracula’s army from wiping out humanity.

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Cosplayers are getting aroused at this photo.

END SUMMARY

If I just watched Season 1 of this show, I’d say it was only kind of good. The first season has some great character designs, good action sequences, decent dialogue at some points, and the Bishop (Matt Frewer) is one of the most deeply despicable characters on film, overshadowing Dracula as an antagonist. However, the show doesn’t really hit its stride until Season 2, when you start to have Dracula’s War Council interacting and Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard bantering. All of the dialogue suddenly gets sharper and better, mostly because of all of the conflicting philosophies and backstories.

The show is, so far, an adaptation of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, something that was a great decision. It’s the first game chronologically, except for Castlevania: Lament of Innocence which doesn’t have Dracula in it, and was the first one to have multiple characters, giving the writers more to work with. I was surprised that they cut out the character of Grant Danasty, the pirate from the game, but maybe he’ll come back later. Still, even without him, we’re not short on great characters on either the hero or villain sides. As with most good series, most of the characters aren’t morally black and white, they’re all fairly flawed and driven by their own wants and histories. For example, two of Dracula’s Generals, Hector and Isaac (Theo James and Adetokumboh M’Cormack), are humans who have decided to side against humanity because of their personal histories, and Isaac’s backstory in particular will just hit you right in the heart.

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Man, this game cover was awesome in the 80s.

The animation style is a tribute to one of the most popular games in the series, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which gives it a strong anime influence, but still with a lot of gothic European character designs. The fight scenes look like elaborate video game cut-scenes, which is exactly what they should look like. The combat involving Alucard is particularly impressive, because his fighting style is literally impossible to do in reality.

Overall, I hope that they keep this series going. There are so many more interesting stories that can be told in the Castlevania universe. They’ve set up several more at the end of Season 2, and Dracula literally always comes back in the games, so they can reuse him as much as they need.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.