Director: Gary Shore
Starring: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper and Ramin Djawadi.
Running time: 92 minutes
There are moments where Dracula, Untold has a courtship with shallowness, as if disguising itself with fangs and a thirst for blood is enough to keep audiences interested until the next plot point. It’s a mixed-bag, in a sense, since the transitions are well done and the visuals are spectacular. But when the enemy is rattled to the point of seemingly no return, where’s the conflict?
Anybody walking out of director Gary Shore’s first feature knows this was a well-done flick. It’s entertaining when it needed to be, adds a bit of historical-lore with the fabled-source material and the CGI is out of this world.
With that said, this film doesn’t separate itself far enough from other action-blockbusters (Read: Lord of the Rings) and superhero-megafilms (Read: Hercules) to standout. The film mixes the story of Vlad the Impaler (mainly that he impaled people and grew up amongst those he would later have to fend off) with the legendary vampire tale.
The story is impressively creative with its source material, filling in gaps with a broad brush of visuals and an engaging origin (how he became Dracula). But this brush’s bristles left plot holes that are far too big to ignore leaving audiences a bit underwhelmed with certain scenes and story lines.
The film begins with a bit of backstory on Vlad III (Luke Evans), the 15th century ruler of Transylvania, who grew up among the Ottoman Turks as a token of loyalty to the Sultan by his father, Vlad II. By the time the film revs up, he is a family man and ruler of his lands, having already earned the “Impaler” monicker despite having kept the peace for 10 years.
While on an expedition, he comes across a cave believing Turks are nearby. When he and his two companions discover the supernatural force, he keeps it a secret so as not to worry his people. But when the Turks, led by Mehmet (Dominic Cooper) begin to threaten Transylvania – a tribute territory that doesn’t have a standing army – Vlad III takes it upon himself to use whatever necessary to save them and his family.
Despite obvious holes in the story, Dracula, Untold hits every movie beat at precisely the right time and audiences looking for an amusing time at the cinema will be pleased with the final product. The film brings a refreshing take to the source material, filling gaps (and creating new ones) along the way.
Watching Dracula discover his abilities and fight off his insatiable thirst is worth the admission alone. All monsters, at some point, come to grips with their abilities and drawbacks. Evans’ performance gives Dracula a conscience and the film is much better for it.