Castlevania (Season 4): Out with a BANG – Netflix Review

The show, defying all odds, manages to wrap up everything pretty well in ten episodes.

SUMMARY (Spoilers)

Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) is the last surviving member of the Belmont family, legendary monster hunters. He is brought out of semi-retirement and full-on alcoholism by the reappearance of Dracula (Graham McTavish), the most powerful vampire lord, who has now dedicated all of his resources to destroying humanity after they killed his wife, Lisa (Emily Swallow). Together with the magician Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso) and Dracula’s half-vampire son Alucard (James Callis), Trevor manages to kill Dracula and supposedly break up his army. Unfortunately, it turns out that many of Dracula’s followers have plans of their own, ranging from the scheming vampiress Carmilla (Jaime Murray) to the demon-conjuring forgemasters Isaac and Hector (Adetokumboh M’Cormack and Theo James). Trevor and Sypha manage to stop a group of evil monks from resurrecting Dracula with the help of the reality-hopping Count of Saint Germain (Bill Nighy). Unfortunately, it seems that a lot more people are trying to do the same thing and it’s up to Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard to finally put an end to the possibility of bringing back the lord of the dead as well as stopping Dracula’s agent Varney (Malcolm McDowell). 

These three show up together and it’s instantly a part.


At the end of Season 2 of Castlevania, Dracula is dead. Now, if you’ve played Castlevania games, you’d probably know that Dracula being dead never really stops him from being the villain. In fact, it’s canon that Dracula automatically comes back from Hell every 100 years even if nothing else brings him back in the interim. Only Ganondorf pulls off sequels with a greater level of regularity. However, the third season did a good job of establishing that there are other threats than Dracula in this world, particularly since a number of other vampires have been united via Dracula’s army and many of them have ambitions on a large scale. 

Dracula just giving 0 f*cks. For eternity.

It’s interesting that the show points out that, even though vampires often find different ways to justify it, almost all of them want to take over the world in order to control it and keep it from changing. Vampires are like everyone, they are born into a world that, three generations later, seems almost completely alien to them. While humans who live to 80 might feel like the world moved on, Vampires can live forever, so the feelings get even greater and the fear of change increases even more. It’s also interesting that Dracula is largely the exception to that rule, because he did try to change himself rather than stopping change, until the church killed his wife. I think it’s part of what makes him the head vampire, since he never stops acquiring new skills. 

Carmilla wants to overturn the gender balance, but then just imprison humanity forever.

After spending a season setting up so many other threats, primarily Isaac and Carmilla, the show manages to believably resolve all of the secondary antagonist’s arcs believably, mostly through character growth or self-sabotage, in order to bring us back to the thing that everyone wants to see… an attempt to bring back Dracula. This time, it seems like almost every group has some level of involvement in it. Throughout the series, there has been one Castlevania mainstay which has been conspicuously absent, and their reveal in connection with this revival is nothing short of amazing. 

No, not Varney (named after a cheap British vampire story that predates Dracula).

It helps that the season also focuses on making us more in tune with how Sypha, Trevor, and Alucard are feeling about their places in the world and how much they want to finally bring some level of peace to humanity, meaning when we see them back together again, we know they’re united in their cause. The show also kicks the action sequences up several notches, with a number of them being among the best animated fights I’ve seen in a long while. Creative, fast paced, and intensely focused, it’s clear that there was a lot of effort put into these and the last two are probably the best two, so it really feels like the show builds up as it goes.

It’s. A. Party.

Overall, just a great way to finish a series. 

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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Space Sweepers: A Surprisingly Sweet Space Opera – Netflix Review

This South Korean film takes us to a sadly realistic future of mostly doom.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s 2092 and everything is pretty well and truly terrible. Earth’s nearly dead, so the UTS corporation, run by definitely not-evil guy James Sullivan (Richard Armitage), builds a new orbiting civilization for the few who can become UTS citizens. Those who escape Earth but aren’t citizens can work as Space Sweepers, astronauts who pick up space debris and sell it to UTS. One group of sweepers is the crew of the Victory, consisting of former special forces commander Kim Tae-ho (Song Joong-ki), Captain Jang (Kim Tae-ri), former drug kingpin Tiger Park (Jin Seon-kyu), and former military robot Bubs (Yoo Hae-jin). The group barely manage to keep floating on their scrap runs until they find a small child inside of a destroyed car. The child turns out to be a robot named Dorothy (Park Ye-rin), who contains a hydrogen bomb capable of destroying everything in a wide range. Naturally, a number of parties want her. But it turns out that this may be an exceptionally special little girl, beyond even what they think.

Shows about Blue-Collar astronauts are often great.


If you like a comedy based around bad-ass space pirates with hearts of gold, then may I recommend the show Firefly? It’s pretty amazing. After you watch that, though, this movie was also a fun example of that weirdly specific genre. Much like that series, the strength of this film comes from how well the main characters play off of each other. Despite the fact that they would largely seem to have the same kind of personality, being that they’re all former military or warriors, they actually have a lot of different viewpoints over how to deal with the various challenges they run into. It’s a great way to work a deeper character study into a space opera.

Yes, the robot is wearing a hoodie. Don’t question it.

The performances in the movie are all great, ranging from the rapidly deteriorating Richard Armitage, who starts as Elon Musk as envisioned by his supporters and ends at Elon Musk as envisioned by his Twitter page, to the secretly sweet Tiger Park to Bubs, the transgender robot (granted, she’s CGI, but she’s amazing CGI). I do think one of the better performances was Song Joong-ki as Kim Tae-ho, who undergoes a massive character moment during the film and it hit me harder than I would have expected a movie like this to be capable of. Each of the characters treats Dorothy a little differently and the scenes with the child are often among the best in the film.

It helps that she really is an adorable little girl.

Overall, if you haven’t seen this movie, you really should give it a try. Sadly, it’s not about curling, but almost everything else is well-done.

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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Hulu Review – The Lodge: A Cult Film in the Making

A woman left alone with her new step-children finds her world turned upside-down.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

After their mother (Alicia Silverstone) dies, Aidan and Mia Hall (Jaeden Martell and Lia McHugh) are sent to live with their father, Richard (Richard Armitage), and his fiancé, Grace (Riley Keough). Richard met Grace while researching a book on cults, because she was the only survivor of her father’s death cult’s mass suicide. Richard announces that the children will spend the holidays with Grace and him at the family’s isolated cabin. The kids refuse to bond with Grace, something that becomes even more stressful when Richard gets called back in to work. One morning, Grace awakens to find that someone, or something, has taken all of the belongings out of the house and destroyed the generators. Even more strange occurrences start to occur, leading Grace to question her reality, or what’s left of it, as she tries to survive with the children.

Lodge - 1Grace
She’s not good at winter, so that’s a bad start. 


This movie is a great example of how you can make horror without needing to have a lot of jump-scares or a ton of disturbing images. While we get some flashbacks to some cult activity, the majority of the tension in the film is just Grace’s slow descent into paranoia. Honestly, Riley Keough makes this movie work. The two kids, played by Martell and McHugh, are both great, but the focus of the story is on Grace, who is dealing with both her past and her future. Since her father led a psychotic religious cult, she naturally has a fear of the Catholic iconography that decorates the cabin, and Keough manages to add a level of subtle intensity to her reactions that really sells her growing madness. If you enjoyed the Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala film Goodnight Mommy, you’ll like this.

Lodge - 3Grace
The directors really like to mess up faces.

Throughout much of the movie, the terror comes from the uncertainty of what is happening to Grace and the kids and how much of it is just within Grace’s mind. The fact that the audience doesn’t really know either, and that some of our own experiences may have felt just as ambiguous in the past, really starts to make the events hit home hard. The atmosphere of the cabin is as unsettling as it gets, constantly casting an otherworldly pallor over everything that the characters are experiencing. So many of the shots really drive home the isolation and the dread that Grace is dealing with that you can empathize with her desperation. 

Lodge - 4Kids
The kids also have a bad time. 

I will say that the biggest problem with the film is the actual plot. Since so much of the movie is ambiguous, it really does take a hit when it tries to explain what’s happening, mostly because the explanation doesn’t really make sense. The ending is powerful, though, and will leave you feeling a lot of emotions, but I’d hate to tell you which ones.

Lodge - 2Article
Who knew a suicide cult could have lasting repercussions?

Overall, honestly, I really liked the film. If you like movies that are driven primarily by a single great performance, or atmospheric horror, check it out on Hulu.

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.

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

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. 

Castlevania3 - 1Trio
They’re a very attractive crew of badasses. 


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. 

Castlevania3 - 3Isaac
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. 

Castlevania3 - 5StGermain
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. 

Castlevania3 - 4Sisters

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.

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

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.

Castlevania - 1SuperCastlevania.jpg
Or, if you’re like me, on the SNES.


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.

Castlevania - 3DracFire.png
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.

Castlevania - 4Trio.png
Cosplayers are getting aroused at this photo.


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.

Castlevania - 5DraculasCurse.png
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 (, follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.