2014, PG-13, 92 min. Directed by Gary Shore. Starring Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance, Diarmaid Murtagh, Paul Kaye, Zach McGowan.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Oct. 10, 2014
I’m tempted to just hang up my cape and say, “This sucks,” but where’s the fun in that? Every generation gets the Dracula (or, here, Vlad the Impaler) it deserves, and so this umpteenth version of Bram Stoker’s tale is heavy on the romance between hunky Wallachian Prince Vlad (Evans) and his beloved Mirena (Gadon) and the notion of self-sacrifice, but light on the red stuff. At war with the Turks, who are hell-bent on exterminating his subjects to make way for the Ottoman Empire, the Christian Vlad sets out on a recon mission that takes him to a cave high above the Borgo Pass. Lurking inside, amidst mountains of bones and perpetual twilight, is a vampire of the old-school kind (Dance) — think Nosferatu minus the ratty incisors — who offers Vlad an unholy strategy to beat back an invading Turk army led by Mehmed (Cooper). Vampirism as the ultimate arsenal of peace? Okay, I’ll bite. Once changed, Vlad gains the “strength of 100 men” and the ability to summon and control millions if not billions of bats as his foot, uh, wing soldiers, but, of course, can’t stand silver, sunlight, or the sign of the cross.
Another addition to Universal Pictures' Classic Monsters arsenal of crap (remember Van Helsing?), director Shore, in his feature debut, displays a fine sense of pacing but little else. This film moves like a (you guessed it) bat out of hell, which renders it watchable even for nonvamp fans (or their parents) and despite the exsanguinating engine at the heart of the story, precious few drops of blood are seen being spilled. I’ve never trusted PG-13-rated horror movies, and Dracula Untold is no exception.
Much is made of the story being narrated by Vlad’s young son Ingeras (Parkinson); judging by the way this film ends, the producers have got their beady eyes on Son of Dracula somewhere down the line. Really, this is yet another unnecessary updating of Dracula (this time for the millennial generation) shot through with some rather impressive CGI battle sequences and little else. Bloodsucker kids who were 15 when Stephenie Meyer’s oh-so-romantic Twilight novels first arrived are old enough for something a little stronger I’d think, although their younger brothers and sisters might get a thrill or two. Me, I’m going to cleanse my palate with a screening of Paul Morrissey’s wonderfully warped Blood for Dracula, and then chill out in my crypt with Nic Cage going batshit crazy in Vampire’s Kiss. Humor in a jugular vein, indeed.