Published on October 7th, 2014 | by SgtKaiju0
Dracula Untold – Review
If you thought the vampire genre was all played out and tired, if you thought the one-two punch of Twilight and Vampire Academy had finally put the undead bloodsuckers out to pasture, you were wrong.
And also kinda right.
Dracula Untold tells the story of how Dracula became Dracula, a Dracula: Year Zero if you will. A scarred veteran of the Turkish Slave army, Vlad is a now the beloved and, seemingly, effective ruler of Transylvania. But, with the looming threat of new Turkish invasions, Vlad makes a deal with The Monster On Broken-Tooth Mountain for vampiric powers to defend his homeland. And thus a legend is born.
First, the good. There are several point in Dracula Untold‘s favour, mostly visual. It would be hard to deny this is a good looking film. John Schwartzman is arguably the biggest name in this film (on-screen or off) and his experience and talent shine through. Some frames seem so posed that you feel like they belong in a different film entirely, and the use of color, especially in his use of dusk and dawn lighting make the look more than memorable. Mention must also go to Dominic Cooper for taking Mehmed from what could have been a one-note bad guy into a character that actually feels like a true threat to Vlad, despite the obvious power differences. See also Charles Dance, who’s late revival into playing evil villians seems to suit him to a tee.
Unfortuneatly, that is where the list of positives run out. There is some much wrong with this film it is hard to get it all in. There is the smorgasbord of castings, from the mismatched main couple to the frankly bizarre and distracting Paul Kaye as a serious monk in a terrible fake beard. And the less said about the weird white-rasta Igor the better. There is the confused and messy fight scenes that swing from almost anime-like fakery to whip-pan fast edited brawls, both leaving me bored and tuned-out. There is the complete disregard of its own internal logic, from Vlad’s powers being ill-defined and apparently situation dependent to the differing reactions to sunlight. Sometimes he burns in indirect sun, sometimes he is fine. Sometimes he stands in the light, sometimes he runs around in dawn. But these are all just window dressing compared to the main issue with Dracula Untold.
It is boring.
It is not that is this a bad film, anyone who reads my Cult Of Consume articles will know how I love a good bad film. Dracula is dull.
Origin stories are hard. The audience is going into the film knowing the outcome. This always a tough sell for any movie. Just look at Man Of Steel, Phantom Menace or Green Lantern. But on the hand, we have Captain America or Iron Man, both origin stories, both great films. The defining characteristic that is missing is that of fun. When we know where the film is going, we want it to be a fun ride. We want to enjoy the experience, to reveal in the steps taken to get us there. Dracula has none of that. It is too moody, Vlad too overcome with guilt and regret to be a engaging main lead, the secondary characters (on both sides) to faceless or generic to garner any sort of care. I mean, fun doesn’t have to mean funny, look at Batman Begins, it can just be impressive. Dracula Untold is just run-of-the-mill action film. It has no heart.