Sunday 5 October 2014

Film Review: Dracula Untold

Luke Evans is the original 'batman' in Dracula Untold, a medieval fantasy film from director Gary Shore that charts the origins of villainous vampire lord, Dracula. 

A young Transylvanian prince with a tortured past, Vlad 'the Impaler' Tepes (Luke Evans) looks to live out his life in the quiet surrounds of Castle Dracula, with his busty wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and son Ingeras (Art Parkinson).

However, his kingdom lives under the thumb of Turkish Sultan Mehmed (Dominic Cooper), and when the Sultan demands 1000 sons as tribute to the Turkish Empire, Vlad refuses and war soon looms large above the citizens of not-so-sunny TransylvaniaDriven by the desire to defend his people, Vlad seeks to possess the ultimate power - vampirism - so he can mount a challenge to the Sultan's army, and protect his family from slavery.

Evans (best known as Bard the Bowman in The Hobbit series) does a decent job of portraying Dracula, given the weak script he has to wrangle with, and he is by no means the worst thing about the movie. His tortured past, love of his family and loyalty to his people are motivations effectively communicated through Evans' performance. One scene where Evans must resist the temptation of feeding on his wife's blood stood out as being particularly good, but other than that, this isn't an iconic portrayal which will stand the test of time, such as Christopher Lee's. 

Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The First Avenger, Need for Speed) is disappointing one-dimensional, his tyrannical Sultan desiring nothing more than to conquer all the world just because. This aspect is also a big negative given that Cooper has an awful gravy-tinged tan, so to make him look authentically Turkish of course. 

Two of the weakest elements in Dracula Untold are the po-faced tone, and drab, uninspired direction. Gary Shore aims for an aesthetic similar to that of Zach Snyder, with his film feeling sort of like a hybrid between 300 and Van Helsing. Except, he can't pull it off and the end result is a hodge-podge of ideas that never gel. The sole female character, Vlad's wife Merina (Sarah Gadon, Enemy) is also poorly written and lacks depth. 

The choppy editing does little to disguise the weak CG-effects, and the end result are action scenes that are messy and hard to follow. Also, the battle scenes are completely devoid of meaning - there is no malice or menace to Evans' Dracula. He's more Boromir than Bram Stoker, striding into battle against thousands of enemies, but never a convincingly chilling and cold vampire who stalks the night in hunt of prey.

The story is also nonsensical - Vlad drinks the blood of a vampire so that he may possess his power, but must resist drinking the blood of an innocent for 3 days before he truly becomes a vampire for eternity. So, for three days, he can't go outside, touch silver - all the things vampires are known for - before he returns to normal. Kind of like hiring a DVD, or a spa weekend. You know, just to trial it out, see if he likes it.

There are some big logical gaps also - Mehmed orders his men to wear blindfolds in battle so that they "don't fear what they can't see". Yeah, that actually happened. I'm pretty sure you can fear what you can't see, more-so that seeing said scary thing in fact. Have the writers of this film never seen a horror film? 

The Verdict: 3.5/10

Dracula Untold is a drab, dull and all-round disappointing time at the movies. Evans does okay with the uneven script, but the film never fulfils its true potential. For a film about Dracula, it's woefully bloodless, and not remotely scary - this one is all suck, and no bite.


  1. Great review! I'm heading out to see this later today. I'm interested to see more of Luke Evans as I enjoyed him in The Hobbit, but I'm not sure how I'll feel about Dracula.
    - Allie

    1. I hope you enjoyed it! I like Evans too, he seems like a nice guy. He's great as Bard in the Hobbit. Shame about this one though, he really is the only positive. Look forward to reading your review!

  2. Woof, that's too bad. Although judging by the lack of things I heard about this one I'm not exactly surprised. Hopefully Luke Evans gets better roles than this in the future!

    1. Yeah, I don't doubt that he's a good actor - just had some bad material to work with on this one :) Thanks for commenting Annie :)

  3. This movie is so bad that its story should be like its title and it should have remained untold.

    1. Yup, that pretty much sums it up! Thanks for commenting Thomas! :)



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