Critics say “Dracula Untold” bites, I say they’re bloody wrong
“We can’t stop here, this is bat country.”
“Dracula Untold” is an epic adaptation of the 1987 Bram Stoker’s gothic character, the likes of which the Dracula movie universe has never seen. Conceptually the story-line was extremely innovative. Instead of picking up amidst the iconic vampire’s tyrannical reign, “Dracula Untold” interweaves historical events with the folk lore that surrounds Vlad the Impaler before the fangs.
I gotta say that if compared to the “Twilight” film saga, this is the best vampire movie that has been made in the past decade. Many critics have lambasted the film for its lack of bloodiness and originality, but I question what movie they were watching. What was the last Dracula movie you’ve seen where the good count seamlessly transitions through forms, going from his mortal look to a torrent of deadly bats, as he single-handedly crushes an entire Turkish army? I can confidently say that is a first in the Dracula movie universe. I think that the film had a appropriately dark tone and, to quote my “blood guy” from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the blood will flow “Forever, until eternity, from the elfin graves.” As for originality, or it’s lack thereof according to critics, I would say that interweaving a compellingly unique origin story for Vlad the Impaler which takes us to 15th century Transylvania would classify as original.
Conceptually, the origin story was sound. I enjoyed seeing Dracula as an endearing character versus a blood thirsty son of satan type. I think too many films have banked solely on that one aspect of what we now see to be as a multi-faceted character. The movie did however suffer from an unevenness in the story line, a problem which could have been remedied with a longer runtime. I was thoroughly engaged throughout, so I would not have hated a more developed and gripping climax even if it took an extra half hour.
If you were wondering when I would get to the unholy herald of death, then wait no longer. The mantle of of Vlad the Impaler turned Dracula is taken by Luke Evans (“Clash of the Titans”). If nothing more, Evans has the leading man role down pat. He covers an array of personas as he segues from the ruthless Impaler under Turkish employ to returned son and Prince of Transylvania where he has provided his people decades of peace.
“I’m Dracula son of the devil.”
Critics have mentioned the transformation scene in particular as being abrupt and corny, but again I have to disagree. We have seen a vampire turn hundreds of times and hundreds of ways on film. What this director, in my mind, aptly chose to capitalize on is what comes after the transformation, the super powers. This movie explores the upper limits of Dracula’s power that rivals that of “a falling star.” Evans, now being rumored to be the lead for “the Crow” reboot, is no falling star.
I’m fairly certain he’ll be back to the big screen donning powers, if not with a Dracula sequel, then perhaps something in the Marvel or DC cinematic universes.
I wish I could say the same for Dominic Cooper, who is familiar with Marvel films having played Howard Stark in “Captain America: The First Avenger.” I will admit that he was not given much to work with in terms of lines, but his delivery was so flat and his presence was so weak, I could not envision him as this almost god-like Sultan to the Turkish empire he was supposed to be.
I feel like what critics which, according to the disconnect between user and critic reviews on RottenTomatoes.com, were grossly out of touch with the general consensus of film goers. What’s wrong with having a pinch of morality and a dash of history sparsely sprinkled over our blood-soaked action films?
As I mentioned earlier, Dracula seamlessly morphs from his mortal look to a torrent of murderous bats when he fights. Critics say the CGI and dialogue were campy. I say they were delightfully engaging and experimental.
One unique scene to note included the use of a ‘sword shot’ during the grand fight scene between Dracula and the Turk army. In this scene we experience a segment of the fight scene through the reflection of a Turkish soldier’s sword as he, who has already been struck by Dracula, is slowly falling to the ground.
I would say what the film lacked in blood and gore it made up for in breathtaking visuals and eye pleasing cinematic landscapes. One scene in particular is at the end of the film where Dracula, who is perched atop a steeple, leaps into a misty chasm only to take flight and aggressively confront the invading army.
Yeah, why not. I can see “Dracula Untold” being added to an annual monster movie marathon perhaps during Halloween. The movie provides enough action and offbeat vampirism to recapture one’s attention time and again.
In a time where movie screens are held hostage by sparkly fanged teens wallowing in melodrama, many avid monster film fans, like myself, have grown discontent with these meager offerings. Fret not for reprieve is not far out of reach. After a fifty plus year hiatus, Universal Studios has decided to take a stab at the monster movie genre it made iconic between the 1920’s and 1960’s. With a collection of classic monster flicks like Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Wolf Man, Creature from the Black Lagoon and it’s crown jewel of Horror, Dracula, Universal’s armada of monster characters are a plenty. Listen up Universal, it’s time to start knocking off those cobwebs and “Dracula Untold” is a good start.
Cinematically speaking, the film was well-acted and story was sound conceptually. Where the film faltered was in either trying to fit in too much in or not having ample time to adequately develop the concept they had. Entertainment-wise, the movie was epic. The effects were well-done if not, at times, overdone. I would say that this is a movie that I might find myself re-watching once the memory of the intricate details fade away, perhaps a film to add to a Halloween monster movie marathon list.