SYNOPSIS: Luke Evans (Fast & Furious 6, Immortals) stars in Dracula Untold, the origin story of the man who became Dracula. Gary Shore directs and Michael De Luca produces the epic action-adventure.
REVIEW: Badass. Excuse my French, but that’s the best word in the American vocabulary that I can find to describe this movie. Director Gary Shore dips his hand into the ever expanding pool of vampire movies that has sprung up in Hollywood, but adds his own twist to the classic Dracula story. We all know the basics: Dracula is the father of the vampires, an immortal demon known for his dark powers of persuasion and hypnotism and his thirst for blood. Luke Evans comes into the role of Dracula and takes a new spin that is sure to please audiences and make him more relatable.
Shore’s take on Dracula is one of faux historical realism. Instead of portraying Dracula as the bloodsucking vampire lord from the outset, the director gives some historical background on the real world inspiration for Dracula- Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler. Tepes was an actual historical figure, a Romanian prince pressed into service as a little boy by the Ottoman Turks until he was finally freed as a man. While in service of the Turkish Sultan, Vlad committed atrocious acts of violence including killing entire villages and impaling their corpses on wooden stakes. The gore and bloodlust of this man inspired stories of dark powers and demonic origins to surround him, which evolved into the vampire tales of Count Dracula. This movie attempts to blend the history and the myth by explaining Vlad’s historically accurate story, while introducing the vampire legend in order to create a solidly believable and really fun film. Vlad’s kingdom is under threat from the Turks as Sultan Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) wants to take Transylvanian boys for his army, and in order to protect his people and his son, Vlad has to make a “deal with the devil” and take on great power. But as we all know- great power comes with great responsibility… and aversion to sunlight.
Dracula uses his newfound demonic powers to full effect, single-handedly taking down an army of 1,000 Turks in one of the most satisfying battle scenes since 300. At times I felt that the action was going so fast that my eyes couldn’t quite keep up with what was going on, but this is only a minor complaint as the overall effect of the fight was very satisfying. This film does not only seek to portray Dracula as a merciless warlord however, and makes good use of portraying his weaknesses, both physical and emotional. Many times throughout the movie Dracula is seen having to avoid silver and sunlight, making a seemingly invincible character very vulnerable. But of course, Dracula’s greatest weakness is his love, the lovely Princess Mirena, played by Sarah Gadon. Vlad is a romantic at heart, and he goes to the ends of the earth to protect his wife, going so far as to sell his soul.
The visuals in Dracula Untold were solid, nothing that absolutely dazzled the eye, though the visual effects in place when the titular character uses his powers were phenomenal. Although there is plenty of violence and death in the film, the gore is not so overwhelming that you might lose your lunch over it. Luke Evans does a great job in his role as the prince of darkness, portraying the animalistic rage of Dracula while also accentuating Vlad’s softer side.
All in all, Dracula Untold is a great movie going into the Halloween season. It’s not a movie that will reach top charts or wow audiences with amazing screenplay or visual effects, but in a season full of cheesy horror movies and suspense flicks, this is an enjoyable film that will keep you satisfied and ready to throw out all of your Twilight DVDs.
By Joshua Tree
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Director: Gary Shore
Writer: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Genre: Action Drama
Duration: 1hr 32mins
Starring: Luke Evans
Producer: Michael De Luca
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of
warfare, vampire attacks, disturbing
images, and some sensuality
Release Date: October 10, 2014
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