Published on October 10th, 2014 | by Chris Daniels0
The latest Dracula movie attempts to honor an ancient story while adding some new spice and bringing the usual graphics flair we’ve come to expect from Hollywood, but falls short.
Dracula Untold, as the name implies, is an origin story for the pop culture father-of-all-vampires. Luke Evans bears the mantle of Prince Vlad Tepes of the Dracula Clan. (Not Count, but Prince.) What about the King, you ask? Well, they didn’t cover this, but there is no King.
Luke Evans is one of my favorite actors in Hollywood right now, and he does this role justice. The rest of the cast contributed solid performances as well, as best they could with sub par script, and poor direction. Charles Dance was a particular pleasure to witness.
This film is Gary Shore’s directorial debut, and it’s easy to see the marks of a neophyte director. Had it been in the hands of someone more experienced, it would have been a juggernaut of a Fall film. Even so, he did pretty well enough, all things considered. According to his work history, Shore was an electrician until 1998, then disappeared until 2014. This is his second film so far this year.
Dracula Untold opens with the story of Vlad the Impaler, as told by his son. Vlad was shipped off to the Turks to become a trained and conditioned weapon. He earned his title by impaling an entire village for the Turkish army. Vlad was a deadly force on the battlefield, but they eventually allowed him to go home, where he could start a family and rule Transylvania. It is painfully obvious that the usual blood-thirsty character was meant to become a hero for this new tale.
The Turks return to take more boys, like they did him, but he refuses. This draws the Turks’ ire, and they demand retribution for the insult and insubordination. Desperate, he seeks out a monster in the mountains who was the REAL first vampire — a man who made a deal with a demon.
Vlad is granted temporary powers, paying a heavy price in the process. After this, the story really ramps up.
This film left me feeling as if something was missing. I attribute this to missing explanations, plot holes (like the lack of King), and several other missteps. Normally, I can look past plot holes. A strong enough movie will keep me from noticing them until I’m rethinking it later. In this case, they were too distracting. The music was unimpressive and not at all memorable. The one liners were forced and distracting, instead of powerful and emotional.
This movie is worth seeing if you’re a fan of vampires in general or Dracula in particular. That said, I wouldn’t advise high expectations. Great aspects were abundant, but there were just as many failings. If you feel compelled to see it, wait until you can see it at home, and save the money.
2 out of 5 Stars
Reviewer: Christopher Daniels
Editor: Jeff Boehm
Second review by Ryan Guerra
This movie doesn’t know what it is. The title suggests it’s going to tell you the untold origin of how Vlad the Impaler, sought out the power of the vampire to protect his kingdom and became Dracula of legend. And we do get some of this lore. However it is in a fast, “drive thru” manner. It’s a shame, because the most interesting part of this film is the interaction between Luke Evans as Dracula and Charles Dance as the Master Vampire. But the screen time between these two is literally ten minutes or less in favor of an action film and the relationship between Vlad and his family.
While this doesn’t make this a bad film, it doesn’t make it a very good one either. It is not that the film is poorly acted, it is just that there isn’t any chemistry between Evans and the other actors he is supposed to care about. I never really believed the on screen love between Evans and Sarah Gadon who plays his wife Mirena. Nor did I care about his on screen son played by Art Parkinson. In fact the only emotional chemistry, other than with Dance, is between Evans and Dominic Cooper who plays his on screen rival.
But the emotional payoffs of all of these relationships are lost as the film just glosses over them in order to show the audience the Power of Dracula in big action scenes. While these scenes are entertaining and even fun at times, this whole film seems to be one giant prolog to the real story that they presumably want to tell in a sequel. Assuming this film does well and they get to make it.
In the end, fans of vampires, vampire lore and those looking for something “monster” related for the month of October may be disappointed. This film is an action movie with a vampire backdrop. As a result, it is entertaining at times, but mostly forgettable once you walk out of the theater.
2 out of 5 stars