Dracula Untold (2014)
Starring: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon
The legend of Vlad the Impaler (Evans) precedes itself. But lesser-known to the world is the mysterious history of his dabble in vampirism. Enter Universal Pictures’ “Dracula Untold.” A war is waging between Vlad’s Transylvanian empire and their rivals, the Turks. One fateful day, Vlad’s brother, Mehmed (Cooper), a Turkish sultan, sends an emissary to Vlad’s kingdom, demanding 1,000 young boys, including Vlad’s son, to form an army. Vlad doesn’t take too kindly to that command, and he is forced to seek out a mysterious power that could be the only chance of saving his kingdom, protecting his wife and sparing his young son. Climbing high atop a treacherous mountain, Vlad encounters a force so potent that it would make him the most omnipotent man on earth – but that same ability could very well be the thing that destroys him. In a unique take on Bram Stoker’s classic monster, “Dracula Untold” offers the origins of the world’s most legendary vampire.
Luke Evans is the bright spot in this movie. It seems like he really embraces the role of Vlad/Dracula and the love for his family and loyalty to his kingdom seem authentic. Adding “Dracula Untold” to an action-packed resume that already includes “The Hobbit” franchise, “The Three Musketeers,” “Clash of the Titans,” “Immortals” and the two most recent “Fast and Furious” films, Evans is establishing himself as one of Hollywood’s hottest up-and-comers. He’ll also play Gaston in Disney’s live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” which is currently in its pre-production phase, so get used to seeing that handsome face of his.
While much of the movie focuses on Vlad’s desire to protect his family and his kingdom, the best parts are the action scenes – particularly those that involve bats. Seeing Vlad utilize his vampiric powers is pretty awesome, and the first big battle scene is flat-out B.A.
Let’s be honest: the Transylvanian accents in this movie are absolutely horrible, with the villainous Dominic Cooper’s being the worst offender. The cliche, stereotypical “I vant to suck yoh bluuudd” comes to mind. It’s almost comical, like something you’d probably hear in something like “Hotel Transylvania” or something.
Speaking of Dominic Cooper, he headlines a weak, underdeveloped supporting cast. For the life of the Salt Lake City DVD Examiner, he could not name more than three characters in this movie. Luke Evans is the star and nobody else even comes close. In the film, Vlad and Mehmet’s sibling rivalry is supposed to be the central rivalry, but we know next-to-nothing about Mehmet, other than the fact that he is supposedly Vlad’s estranged(?) brother. And we only know that they’re brothers because the refer to each other as such. That relationship’s lack of substantial development results in a rivalry so superficial that you won’t really care about it in the slightest.
Without getting into any details or giving away any spoilers, the ending of the movie is a little odd. It’s intriguing and is an obvious set-up for a sequel, but it feels jarring and abrupt and makes one wonder how, exactly, they got there in the first place.
Rumor has it that “Dracula Untold” may have been the beginning of a Marvel-esque cinematic universe of the iconic Universal Monsters. That could be fun. Get Dracula, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man and the rest of the gang together on the big screen. Go for it. With that in mind, the origins of Luke Evans’ Dracula is an intriguing concept. And if this actually is the beginning of something much, much bigger, this movie will be pivotal, instrumental and essential to watch if you want to understand what’s going on further down the line.
But despite the promise of a bright future (unintentional vampire pun), the movie falls a bit flat, due to hokey acting from an unsupportive cast that fails to build around Evans’ strong lead. If monsters are your thing, give “Dracula Untold” a shot, but if you’re not into the whole vampire deal, you won’t be missing much.
Similar movies: “King Arthur” (2004), “Robin Hood” (2010), “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” (2003)
Blu-ray bonus features:
– Audio in English, French, Spanish, English Descriptive Audio
– Subtitles in English, French, Spanish
– No other bonus features available on rental version
Directed by: Gary Shore
Studio: Universal Pictures
Running time: 92 minutes
MPAA rating: PG-13 for “intense sequences of warfare, vampire attacks, disturbing images, and some sensuality,” and also including an instance of dismemberment, brief violence against a woman and a particularly gruesome act of impalement.
Costars Charles Dance, Art Parkinson, Diarmaid Murtagh, Noah Huntley
DVD release date: February 3, 2015
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