There have been countless films based on the worlds’ most notorious vampire, and this origin story sets the backdrop for the Dracula we know and love today. Less action and more soppy romance, Dracula Untold had enough promise to be a cut above the rest in terms of plot and action, yet director Gary Shore failed to capitalize on this potential, and all we’re left with is just another vampire movie that joins all the other vampire movies in the cinematic wasteland.
Having returned to his people after being taken hostage as a youth by the warring Turks and trained to become an emotionless killer (oh the irony), prince Vlad Dracula (Luke Evans) lives in idyllic harmony with his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and son Ingeras (Art Parkinson) in the sunshine city of Transylvania. But as most stories go this happiness doesn’t last long, and when a thousand youths are demanded by the Turks, including of course Vlad’s only child, a war erupts ultimately erupts between the powerful Turks, led by brother-turned-frenemy Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) and the outnumbered Transylvanians. This of course isn’t how the story ends, and when Vlad seeks out the master vampire (Charles Dance) and ultimately drinks his blood (spoiler alert!) he becomes a one man army who will stop at nothing to protect those he loves most.
The whole concept of an origin story is always difficult to keep fresh when most audiences tend to know the end result. Such is the case with Dracula Untold, which dive bombed straight into boring territory once Vlad became master of vampires. Added to this was the plot, which had more holes then a golf course. Without giving too much away, the idea that the master vampire, who it has to be said was looking the worse for wear, is trapped in a cave for an insurmountable number of years waiting for another to take his place (read: Vlad) in order to release him made no sense. This was particularly frustrating given Vlad was free to run around for eternity WITHOUT needing to stay in a cave and looking a hell of a lot better than the guy before him. These murky plot points are scattered throughout the film, which left me frustratingly bored by the movies end.
When a film is based around the idea of warring armies and immortal killers, one would be forgiven for thinking that this was an action movie. The amount of action probably amassed to maybe ten minutes of screen time, and all of it was centred on the different ways Dracula could use his bats to send huge amounts of men to their death. At first it was entertaining, but it quickly teetered into the land of lacklustre once it became clear that Batman…sorry Dracula, was more or less going to fight as a swarm of bats, as opposed to the skilled fighter we know him to be.
Unfortunately Dracula Untold will probably be relegated to ‘just another vampire movie’ status, failing to stand out from the crowd and put a new spin on an otherwise stale mythos. Admittedly the potential was there for a great film, but a lack of clear direction and unimaginative scenes, action or otherwise, meant that this was never going to be anything other than your run of the mill Dracula movie.
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