Dracula. It is a legendary tale that has been told throughout the ages in form or another. Many movies have focused on the original player, with the seductive glare that can woo any woman into doing…whatever it is he plans to do. Most of these renditions have been the same formula, the vampire lord pining over a woman only to be stopped just by someone. Sure there have been a few twists thrown into the mix, helping to adapt him into the modern era, some of which have been good, and some that let’s face it have tanked. This weekend, yet another spin on the tale has been released, promising to bring action that this denizen of the night hasn’t had in a while. Did it work? Read on to find out.
So picture it, medieval Transylvania in the time when the Turks were trying to invade the world in the name of their glorious Sultan. Standing in their way is a handful of soldiers, whose leader is an elite trained soldier that once was a salve to the very beast. Wait a minute doesn’t this sound like a movie we’ve already seen before? One with Greek soldiers standing in the way of… the Turks? Well don’t worry this movie isn’t 300, but it has a lot of similar elements that may have been the motivation for this movie. Let’s start with the action first.
Dracula Untold is supposedly an action/adventure, and in a way it is. A creative still frame opening introduces the tale leading us to a rather bland opening. Yet when the trouble starts and the bad guys are on our doorsteps, the boss comes out to play. The first fight is an impressive display of sword fighting, a fast paced version of a Lord of the Rings fight that is fairly short in the grand scheme of things. Not to worry it’s only the first battle, surely the rest of the movie will give us our money’s worth. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Dracula Untold’s fights are rather short lived, each one serving as another medium to test the lord of the night’s powers. The graphics are impressive, but the fighting is rather simple, and one sided to the point that it becomes a bore. Sure the first fight with super powers was good for me, the action designed more like 300’s battles, minus the slow motion slashing and decapitation. I wanted more fights like this one, though with some better camera work, but the movie became nothing more than again a CGI wonderland where artificial bats swarmed the screen. Was it fun? Yes. Was it worth the money? Not really, though the big screen gladly welcomed the deep sounds and high definition death.
So the action wasn’t top notch, but maybe there is something else to this movie. Well let’s talk about the story Dracula Untold. I can say this tale is one of the more unique spins on his story, blending elements of many films to craft a decent adventure. This film has sort of a dark justice feel to it, with Dracula obtaining his powers for a noble cause of protecting his family, which the trailers have already told you. Yet that simplistic story has more layers to it, evolving as more situations unfold. You can see a lot of the revelations happening a mile a way, but path to getting there is filled with a few twists that may surprise you. Yet what really grabbed my attention was the internal battle between Dracula, or Vlad, and his curse. You know the inevitable ending, but you just don’t know when he is going to reach that breaking point. In this film, the director has captured the struggle of facing off the curse, and just how tempting the world can be when you are denied certain things. Alone this struggle can be boring, and a little drawn out, but when overlaid with the main tale, it becomes a powerful combination that kept me enthralled in an otherwise ridiculous story. Well it was that and the fact that you never quite know how dark they would take the film.
So what else does this film have in store? In truth the acting is well done, each of the merry band of knights and maidens a strong fit for the film. Of course most of the screen time is on the big cheese himself Dracula, played by Luke Evans. Evans does a nice job with his role, as he essentially plays Bard with more edge. He keeps his emotions in check and does a nice job balancing his work. His wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) is a lovely supporting character and is second on the screen time. She is beautiful, smart, and not annoying as Hollywood makes some of their female leads out to be, and Gadon did a great job playing the part. Why I had hoped for a little more girl power, she did a great job doing her part for the war. Again the rest of the cast does a solid job for the most part, but it’s time to wrap this up before my next film starts.
Dracula Untold is not a bad tale, with some well-designed action, a unique twist to the plot, and a good variety of elements to keep things interesting. However, the action is short lived, the moves are a bit stale, and there are a few plot elements that are a bit stretched or short sighted to say it is a must see in theaters. Make a note that this is a bloody movie, that there are close-ups of bloody kills and death that may not be for those with weak constitutions. The fact that the movie is dark and loud too, might be an indication not to bring babies, or other young adults to the theaters. Overall, my scores are:
Movie Overall: 6.5