Director: Gary Shore
Cast Headliners:Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Charles Dance
Original Release Date: October 10th, 2014
There have been what, one million adaptations of the Dracula and vampire tale? The Bram Stoker character has nearly become public domain by this point, which is why Dracula Untold only comes a couple years after Adam Sandler in Hotel Transylvania. To create a new Dracula film in 2014 with the hope of being unique is akin to making a Fu Manchu film in hopes of being new. It can’t help but feeling “overdone.”
This film hopes to remedy that by taking a look at the real inspiration for the legendary vampire in Prince Vlad II “the Impaler” of Transylvania (then Wallachia). The prince, played by Luke Evans, has to contend with a Turkish army led by the powerful Sultan Mehmet (Dominic Cooper), and so must turn to the dark vampiric powers offered by the Master (Charles Dance). The “historical” premise and origin of this famous character does make it stand but it’s almost certain they were not entirely accurate.
What is here is a few good aspects. Evan’s Vlad also goes by the name “Dracula” or son of the Dragon, and he very much embraces that in his performance. He is one of the only interesting characters in the film and brings a brooding ferocity to his role. The plot concerning his transformation down the dark side of vamprisim is quite cool and one can feel his emotion. There is an overall dark atmosphere to the film accomplished through beautiful misty landscape backgrounds and more bats than you can shake a Bruce Wayne at. His interactions with Dance as the vampire who infected them are also great, as Dance’s brief appearance makes him out to be a great villain who is woefully underutilized.
What’s less interesting is the major plot concerning the Turks. The Sultan has less depth than a cartoon character, and his soldiers don’t seem to pose much of a threat at all besides their number. The film’s action scenes can be counted on one hand and all consist of Dracula turning into a swarm of bats and destroying every one nearly instantly . Pretty cool, but when it’s literally the only appeal of the film it’s not the best argument to go see it.
The movie has flat characters and sparse action but is saved by its characterization of Dracula and some cool special effects. It’s not the worst movie ever and has some moments of dumb fun when Dracula destroys armies. But it feels like it ends way too sooner than its 2 hour run-time. Here’s hoping the sequel it’s hinting at brings things to more interesting areas which it does hint it. Considering that it feels so much like the video game Castlevania : Lords of Shadow 2 already, that should be a cool place indeed. …. 6.35 out of 10