by Aitch Cee
**WARNING: A FEW SPOILERS ARE GIVEN**
This movie shows that if you go in with low expectations, you just might get entertained. As it is, Dracula Untold, starring Luke Evans, is less of Bram Stoker’s story and a lot more of a fictional retelling of Vlad Tepes and how he became the Son of the Devil.
After watching this movie the way this story is told, you almost feel as if you are watching a superhero’s origin story. This movie is directed by Gary Shore with this being his debut big Hollywood film and before I delve into the movie, I would do a courtesy by saying it’s a shame at how this movie has so far being panned. It’s neither slow like 1992’s Dracula nor a train wreck like Dracula 2000(Trivia: it’s one of Gerald Butler’s early movies). It’s very briskly paced and does not linger but more on that in a moment.
The plot of the story is that Vlad is trying to bring peace to his country and to do so, he must pay tribute to Sultan Mehmed (played by Domic Cooper who looks nowhere Turkish) in order to keep the peace. However, when some of the sultan’s men turn up dead, they want more than what Vlad is willing to give. Seeking a way to end the war, he seeks out a higher and darker power to free his people at any cost. One thing to point out is if you know your history, Vlad Tepes has always been painted by the west at least as a depraved individual but in many parts of Romania, he is still revered as a hero. Now don’t get it twisted, what he did to his enemies was cruel but effective. In the movie, that portion of the story is loosely told but he is also shown to be a caring father and dedicated husband with some terrible choices to be made to save his people under his stead.
As I stated earlier, this movie is very briskly paced and I was kind of surprised that this movie clocked in at 90 minutes. But, it’s all you need to tell the story. It gets straight in with Vlad’s issue of resolving how he will keep the peace with the Turks, how he gains his vampiric power and what he has to lose. I thought it was a nice plot device to portray him as a fallen hero who has 3 days to do what needs to be done or live out the curse forever. Another touch was that Gary Shore was ambitious for hoping to keep the doors open for a sequel as early on when Vlad faces his Master played by Charles Dance (when he’s not dying on the can), we are lead to believe there are larger forces afoot, should Vlad succumb to the Thirst.
The movie kept me entertained with enough of the story intertwined with some passable action scenes to keep it from bogging down in useless dialogue. There is one scene that I thought was a bit hokey in which Vlad takes on an army of the sultan’s men all by himself and when the battle is over, Vlad’s soldiers arrive very late to the scene and at that point, not one has the sense enough to be afraid. But, hey, it feels like a superhero movie right? We can forgive that right? Well, not quite but that fear is made up for later and to be honest there are more plotholes to be had but, just try to be entertained, ok?
Of course before you know it, secrets are discovered, vows are made and by the time we make it to the climax, which although telegraphed, we are given yet another hint at a possible sequel as the movie gives a possible nod of Bram Stoker’s story with a modern day twist and a hint of darker things to come.
To sum it up, Dracula Untold is not the trainwreck it could have been and it’s a bit darker that what I thought it could be. The set pieces are nice to look at even if it feels a little over the top like a video game gone wrong. It has enough plotholes to drive a silver-tipped stake through but it still tells a story that should not bore anyone looking for a good action movie especially this close to Halloween. At the end of the day, it’s not a bad first effort by a new director who knows how to tell this story about an old legend in a modern age of capes and super powers.
3 out of 5 stars