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Movie Breakdown: Dracula Untold (Noah)

October 10, 2014


People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

All I really needed was another Dracula film strangled by bad computer graphics and over-acting. Oh great, here comes one.

The Reality:

Dracula Untold feels like it’s over in 15 minutes. Most of the time it’s a plus when a film pulls you in so deep with its characters and plot that the time vanishes around you, but this certainly isn’t the case with this hastily thrown together, toneless, unneeded “prequel” to the story of Dracula. Instead the tale of Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans) and his transformation into Count Dracula breezes along because it’s vacuous mess of a film. Vladly Vladerson is the beloved, reigning prince of Transylvania who is forced to take on the powers of the vampire when the Turkish Empire demands that he send his son as a slave tribute. Hopped up on vampire blood, Vlad gains the power to kill hundreds of people, raise a vampire army, and, as he does time and time again, turn into a swarm of bats and wreak havoc on his Turkish oppressors. And that’s it. There’s romance (of the most blandly PG variety) and a little bit of military camaraderie (though I can’t remember a single name of any character in the film aside from Vlad) but for the most part this is just Luke Evans in crushed velvet acting blood-thirsty and smashing people with an enormous bat-fist. And that’s just the beginning of the problems. This is a prequel, the story that’s supposed to explain why Big Drac is Big Drac, but all it does is flout the standard conventions of a vampire story. We’re shown that Vlad gets powers, but there’s no explanation of why being a vampire gives you the ability to explode into bats or why it makes you sensitive to light and silver. Nope, you just drink some creepy old man’s blood out of a clam shell in a cave and suddenly you can do, well, just about whatever you want. Supposedly Dominic Cooper shows up as a the bad guy, but all I saw was a borderline racist portrayal of a Turkish sultan for a few moments that may or may not have been Mr. Cooper. Dracula Untold is supposed to be the kick-off for the whole new Universal Monster connected universe, but this film is a limp dick with a forced ending that promises some sort of sequel. Gary Shore, the director, isn’t bad, he steeps the film in atmosphere and makes a small effort to beautify the computer graphics, but it doesn’t matter, there’s little to no script and when the film plods to a unsatisfying ending, you’ve already forgotten what you’ve seen.

The Lesson:

Just leave fucking Dracula alone.

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