While the TWILIGHT induced vampire phase of the last five years has done little to float my boat, you can’t go past the papa of vampires: Count Dracula!
It seems that villains can’t be bad for the sake of it these days; they need a reason – a heart breaking back-story to justify their descent into darkness. Some may argue it dampens the ‘scariness’ of the baddie in question. Me? I like them! Call it a guilty pleasure.
DRACULA UNTOLD creates an original story for Bram Stoker’s famous character, dealing with Dracula the man as opposed to Dracula the monster. When facing threats to his kingdom and his family, Prince Vlad resorts to a dark deal with the resident vampire in order to save his people…hence Dracula is born!
I dub this film ‘Project Newbie!’ It is director Gary Shore’s debut feature film, and first time screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless pen the script. The cast is also littered with ‘up and coming’ talent.
However, aside from a slow start, some overly theatrical aesthetics and the clichéd dialogue, you wouldn’t necessarily guess the film was born from such an inexperienced crew. It presents just as well as the usual Hollywood fluff.
For traditional Count Dracula fans, there’s certainly some adjusting to be done. Forget Transylvanian accents. Forget Dracula’s iconic look – there is no pasty face or red and black cape here people! Instead we have the rugged and handsome Luke Evans (THE HOBBIT: DESOLATION OF SMAUG) rocking sexy armour and a Northern-esque accent. He’s not what you’d expect, but I like what I see!
Admittedly, there is little authenticity in DRACULA UNTOLD, with a mostly English cast passing themselves off as Transylvanian and Turkish. For the most part this doesn’t really matter…aside from the Turkish Sultan (played by Londoner Domonic Cooper) who looks like something from the Backstreet Boys….what’s with that?
Overall, DRACULA UNTOLD looks pretty good. Shot in Ireland, there are some very pretty landscapes. Stylistically, it draws from graphic novel imagery, but doesn’t go the whole hog. My only complaint; the battle cinematography is a little too ‘active’ affecting how much of the fight choreography we can actually see.
Some may cry foul at the lack of spooky suspense and bloodthirstiness in DRACULA UNTOLD. It is definitely more of an action/drama flick. However, to whine about this is a little unfair. It was made pretty clear by the trailer that is an origin story: We’re looking at how and why Dracula became “the monster” and personally, I found it very interesting and highly entertaining.
Leave any prior expectations of The Count at the door, look past the cringe-worthy dialogue and you’re set for an action-packed ride with DRACULA UNTOLD. It’s a solid offering by new film-making talent, and it makes for a highly entertaining night out.
DRACULA UNTOLD: It’s flawed but fun – I rate it 6 stars.