October 10th, 2014
MOVIE: DRACULA UNTOLD
STARRING: LUKE EVANS; SARAH GADON; DOMINIC COOPER; CHARLES DANCE
DIRECTED BY: GARY SHORE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
It should be called “Dracula Incomplete”, or “Dracula the first few days”, either way Dracula Untold is an origin story that is rushed and unfinished. It stars Luke Evans as Prince Vlad Tepes, known as the Impaler. He is ruler of the people in Transylvania, but the Turkish army is at their door-step, asking for the sons of Transylvania for their army. Being the protective ruler that he is, of his family and his people, this film tells the story of how Vlad made a deal with Dracula, starting a long history of vampire movies.
Vlad’s son, Ingeras (Art Parkinson), narrates the tale. He describes how the boys of Transylvania were enslaved to the Turks, and one of them was the one-man wrecking crew known as his father. He would get the “impaler” nickname from his collection of killed men posted on pikes like flags, but when he was released, he would go back to his lands to rule with his beautiful wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon).
When Vlad and his men search a mysterious cave on top of an overlooking mountain, his guards are killed, and he finds out that an evil spirit resides in the cave.
After the cave event, the Turk king- Mehmed (Dominic Cooper, who always seems to find his way into movies like this or Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) accuses Vlad of taking out his scouts. The King orders him to turn all the boys of Transylvania over to them to be soldiers, as a sign of peace. Now our “hero” must choose between protecting his family and starting an all-out war.
This is Director Gary Shore’s first feature film. Makeup and costumes look authentic, good quality, especially since Shore directed commercials prior to this stab. I was surprised at the script’s attempt at back stories and character development; we see a flicker of romance between Vlad and Mirena in the first 30 minutes, but this movie had an estimated budget of one hundred million. And at an incomplete 92 minutes and quite uninspired special effects, this feels like the money was spent on actors and not on script writers.
A war begins, and Vlad must decide to protect his people. He approaches the evil Master Vampire in the cave- played by Game of Thrones Charles Dance. His makeup and aura is creepy, and he is perfect for the roll, but there is not enough of him. Vlad seeks the power that he has, which will allow him to take out entire armies on his own, but at a price. If he does not drink any blood in three days he will be restored. He takes the risk…you know where this is going.
The film winds down with Vlad’s decision between saving his family or becoming Dracula forever and it’s not as exciting as it could be. Dracula Untold looks like it’s in the category of films like this year’s terrible I, Frankenstein, but it is not that bad. It ultimately is a movie with trying performances from Evans, who has the promise to be a star, but needs a completed script in order for that to happen.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of warfare, vampire attacks, disturbing images, and some sensuality
Written by: Leo Brady