Dracula Untold movie review
Way back when I first saw the trailer, I thought both “Do we really need to remake everything?” and “This looks awful” simultaneously. Now that I’ve seen the film, I’ve upgraded Dracula Untold to “eh” from “meh.” (If you’re keeping score at home, this means I’m no longer dismissing the film and I’m now recognizing that it exists and is not the worst thing to happen to vampires since Twilight.)
JUST FYI: I found the ending of this movie very disappointing, so if you didn’t see the flick, keep in mind I will be covering that – amongst other bits. So:
The movie’s general premise is solid, but at 92 minutes, it feels more redundant than it should. Yes, Vlad is a loving husband and father. Yes, he takes good care of his people. Yes, he makes the hard choices and has/will sacrifice a few to save the whole. Yes, he values the psychological advantages that the fear he inspires provide…
WE F@CKING GET IT. YOU DO NOT NEED TO HAMMER THESE FACTS HOME IN EVERY SCENE.
(And it also occurs to me that one could reject the movie simply because it’s an Action Film and features basically zero horror film elements and I couldn’t’ say shiz to them because this is, after all, a Dracula picture.)
Anyway, the movie rumbles along, it takes… I dunno, 40 minutes for Vlad to get his vampire powers… The movie kinda drags along to its inevitable conclusion. How funny was it after Vlad beat a thousand dudes and then his boys came running out all, “Have I missed it? Have I missed the battle?” and the movie Gladiator is all, “You have missed the war.” Luke Evans is a fine actor, so you sort of care, but the more I think about it, the more I come to realize how impatient I was getting. Oh, and annoyed – the peripheral characters are morons. Their weird “Potter Stinks!” attitude when they saw Vlad was a vampire was stupid… I hate it when the faceless ensemble hates on the protagonist for no reason other than it’s a cheap way for the screenwriter to generate sympathy for the lead.
The Sultan wants 1000 boys for his army. Vlad refuses and kills… let’s say 5 dudes. Then, the Sultan sends 1000 warriors to take the boys by force and Vlad kills them all. The Sultan says to send 100,000 to attack Vlad again. Vlad wipes them out, too.
SOLVE FOR X.
Anyway, the ending: Vlad uses his wife’s blood to keep his vampire powers so he can save their son because he’s out of time on this devil’s bargain styled plot device. What would have been far more interesting is to have him transfer the powers to her so she could sacrifice herself (but also not die), then lose control and turn Vlad back into a vampire. Then he’d have to kill her because she’s out of control and would now kill any innocent, even her own son because she’s got the blood lust..
I would have prefered this to the silly silver fight in the tent with Howard Stark, but then, this is a Batman Begins styled action movie by Legendary Pictures, so the protagonist has to have a fight with the antagonist at the end of the flick.
And then it gets worse.
The movie jumps to the present after Vlad is saved from his sacrifice by the weird, out of nowhere Shkelgim (a Reinfield-ish character) because otherwise, they couldn’t turn this into a franchise. Here in the present, the Master Vampire watches Dracula hit on a woman and he’s still all, “Let the games begin.” It’s hard to accept that Dracula answers to someone for all time, but this is to make him more sympathetic because he has to be the protagonist…
But that doesn’t work because Dracula is a F@CKING MONSTER! He’s a parasite who literally lives off the life’s blood of the innocent. Not exactly someone to cheer for.
This movie does its best to rebrand the most terrifying of the Universal Monsters into an anti hero and frankly, it doesn’t work. The movie isn’t awful, but the idea that it’s a franchise starter is hard to accept… but that’s just what it is. Dracula Untold brought in… what, $140 million? So yeah, we’ll all meet here again for Dracula: Undead and Loving It in the next year or so.