Movie Mash Monday: Dracula Untold

Set in the medieval 1460’s, Prince Vlad the Implaer of Wallachia and his people are threatened by the impending forces of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed III. In order to overcome such an immense army and save his lands, he must look for a greater force to overcome them.

The portrayal of Dracula and his legacy in film has spun decades with actors such as Gary Oldman, Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi taking up the helm as the bloodsucker. This time it’s Welshman Luke Evans who’s taken up the helm in a fictionalization of Vlad the Impaler’s life and transformation into Dracula. If you’ll excuse the pun this is quite literally Batman Begins (get it?) but is lacking in some serious bite throughout.

The story of Dracula has always been bloody and dark, but with a PG-13 certificate a lot of the film feels like it’s needs a blood transfusion to inject the film with a little more edge and gore despite the numerous oversized battle sequences. The gothic backdrops filmed in Ireland draw us into the dark twisted landscape of the 1400’s setting but the origins story is lacking some heart (perhaps it was staked?) Gone is any presence of Dracula’s infamous charm and creeping air of menace, replaced instead with a ‘Twilight’ reminiscent moody Vamp with complete with endearing qualities and completely devoid of any of the real character that made the original Dracula so iconic. Charles Dance shows up briefly as a maleficent and powerful vampire hermit but disappears again, wasting one of the few memorable performances in the entire film.

The film has the elements there, flirting between a horror, an epic war film, and a romance but never decides which it wants to be leaving behind a confused mess that never takes off and sludges through the plot trying to connect the dots in order to find an ending. This includes a set up to introduce Dracula into the upcoming Universal Monsters reboot, an obvious attempt for Universal to enter the ‘film multiverse ‘ to tie films together a la The Avengers and the upcoming films from DC (starting with Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice).

In short, this is 300 but with a Vampire with huge battle sequences as limbs and bodies fly everywhere in the very fast cut action sequences. There are some cool looking shots here and there of ‘Drac’ doing his thing and the CGI bat swarm effect is fun for a while but it’s hard to look past the special effects as nothing with any real merit lies beyond. Not the worst film of the year but a long way from being anything memorable and could have best been left…Untold.

2/5

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