Dracula Untold – Movie Review
Dracula Untold – PG-13
Release Date: Fri 10 Oct 2014
Many adaptations of Dracula depict the origin of the character as being Vlad the Impaler, cursed to live forever as a monster. In some versions it is Vlad’s own evil that does this to him. In others he curses God.
Dracula Untold is a version that tells the story of Vlad the Impaler as a tragic hero, trying to save his son and his people from the invading Turks. It’s more Lord of the Rings than 300 with the PG-13 rating and emphasis on story over action. It also bears some resemblance in its goal to Maleficent or Wicked where it takes a character you know and gives them a more developed, sympathetic story.
That’s not to say Dracula loses what makes him a classic monster. In addition to a very metered use of his typical abilities to gain power from drinking blood and turning those who drink his blood, Dracula Untold’s version can mind control bats, split apart at will and cause telekinetic damage to armies of men. He’s extremely powerful, yet he doesn’t quite have the hang of controlling those he turns and there’s still warmth in his heart as he tries to save his wife and son.
Luke Evans turns in a fair performance as Vlad/Dracula. With the exception of Charles Dance, most of the rest of the cast is serviceable in their roles but not terribly memorable. Dance plays the master vampire who gives Vlad his power. The scenes with him are fantastic and again bring comparison with the Lord of the Rings movies, feeling like Vlad and the master vampire echo scenes between Bilbo and Gollum.
The movie is either setting up a sequel or showing how it would tie in with the traditional Bram Stoker story. My hope is that Dracula Untold will leave the Bram Stoker (the “told” part) alone and stick with what it does well – provide a deeper backstory to one of fiction’s most interesting characters.
Darrin, Matthew, Jeremiah and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion afterward in the car: