Everyone listen. I’m going to pretty much surprise the crap out of you because by writing the next sentence I’m surprising the crap out of myself. I enjoyed Dracula Untold. I know. You’ve probably just decided that maybe you don’t want to trust my opinion anymore, but hear me out.
Dracula Untold is a Universal monster movie. You know those old classics from back in the day that starred Dracula and the Wolfman and the Mummy. In fact they’re making an entire film universe for those guys to star in. The point is that those movies were meant to be fun and kind of ridiculous and that is exactly what Dracula Untold is despite its many flaws.
Director: Gary Shore
Release Date: October 18, 2014
In case the horribly uninspired title of the film didn’t tip you off, Dracula Untold is the origin story of everyone’s favorite vampire, Dracula (Luke Evans). Supposedly this is the untold origin story of how Vlad the Impaler, prince of Transylvania, became Dracula, prince of darkness. How that is an untold story I’ll never know, but maybe they’re referring to the fact that they’ve made it into a sort of superhero origin — how Dracula got his powers. That’s is how the film differs as it casts Dracula as a man who sacrifices his soul in order to save his son and people from the evil Turks.
The plot is almost to be laughed at as it truly only involves Dracula getting his powers then kicking butt, struggling with love and then kicking more butt. But man, does he kick some butt. The movie plays with itself just fine, turning the vampire into an action hero who kills an entire army why flitting in and out of a cloud of bats. They’re clearly trying to make their own blockbuster hero universe with this as Dracula is far closer to some sort of Batman/Aquaman (control of animals of the night) thing than your classic take on him. If that sounds appalling to you then stay away.
There are some seriously great one-liners in this move that are delivered with an earnestness that’s actually quite impressive for how stupid the thing is. Somehow the film ends up being fun to watch as Dracula tears through armies of Turks. There’s also some horribly cheesy yet fantastic visuals that pop up throughout the film, like a slow motion fall as Dracula, half bats/half man, tries to catch his wife from falling to her death. It is a great ball of melodrama in one shot and it works because how else are you going to do something this ridiculous?
What is odd is that director Gary Shore, who has only done one short before this, is terrible at putting together his action sequences. They’re choppy and hard to see, which is too bad because Dracula’s flying/fighting antics would be incredibly awesome to watch with a more competent director at the helm. It’s unclear why the film looks so dark since almost every shot has a digital background and they could have lightened it up easily, but it is a major determent to the stupid fun you should be having. With a better director that had a bit more skill Dracula Untold could have been a camp classic like the Universal monster films that inspired it. Instead it’s just a bit of dumb fun.
Dumb should really be stressed here. There are plot holes in the film that you can’t even begin to think about without wanting to gnaw your arms off in frustration. Almost every aspect of it is designed around whether or not a shot will look cool. At one point Dracula (then Vlad) returns to the gave where he previously found the vampire who will change him. When he and his compatriots arrived there before it seemed like an easy climb. Upon returning he’s shown in full armor pulling himself up a cliff to get there, cape billowing behind him. It’s all for the sake of style and that style can pay off, but man does it lead to some dumb plotting.
Where does that leave us with Dracula Untold? One of the most solid matinee/rental recommendations I’ve given all year. It is not a good movie or a great one, but there’s plenty of entertainment and visual eye candy to enjoy. Expecting something from this film will ruin it for you, going in expecting nothing will mean you have a great time.