Bru’s Reviews: DRACULA UNTOLD TELLS AN OLD STORY IN A NEW WAY October 15, 2014 – Posted in: Blog, Bru's Reviews, Featured Columns
All original written content is (c) 2014 Mike Pascale. Visual content is (c) its respective owners. Bru-Hed is a trademark of All Ages Media and Mike Pascale.
THIS WEEK: Universal, the company behind the most popular and loved movie monsters (Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Phantom Of The Opera, etc.), reboots the old vampire king for a new century with the dwarf from LORD OF THE RINGS (Luke Evans) as the “real” Vlad The Impaler who turns out isn’t such a bad dude after all, just a decent guy trying to take care of his family and peeps. Just with weird fangs and a lust for human blood.
Written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, based on characters by Bram Stoker (duh); Directed by Gary Shore.
First, for those new to these reviews, get the skinny on how they work and access to previous ones here.
- Some interesting and relatively fresh takes on the vampire legend, rules and restrictions. Some are better than others. But I applaud their trying to add something new and different. (Note: just biting someone does not make them turn into a vampire. Remember that.)
- Dracula is not a despicable guy here. He’s a family guy and a ruler who’s put between a rock and a hard place. [MIKE: You mean between Scylla and Charybdis.] No, moron, those chicks weren’t in the movie!
- There’s an attempt to tie him in with the real Dracula, the Middle Ages ruler Vlad Tepes (aka, “Vlad The Impaler.”) History buffs will either smile with it or laugh at it.
- Luke Evans is a great choice for the character. Very believable, a good actor. You really sense his inner struggle. Other casting choices are good. His wife is gorgeous…which makes sense. Vampires get all the hot girls. (Except for Vincent in TWILIGHT, of course.)
- Good exchange with the “master vampire”. And the cave scenes are well done with cool effects.
- Great battle scenes! Nice combination of 300-type fighting and vampire stuff. Great sound effects and camera work.
- Awesome effects on the vampire thing, especially when he flies/moves fast. Best I’ve ever seen in any vampire flick!
- Lots of room for sequels if you dig this. (See “Cons” below.)
- Hard to buy Tony’s dad, Howard Stark (from the Marvel movies) as a Turkish sultan! He’s a fine actor, but I kept waiting for him to put on a fedora.
- The master vampire, Charles Dance, is a great villain. Just did not like his hoody–historically accurate, maybe, but not scary. He looked more like an elderly monk with a dental condition. Good choice for a modern version, though.
- The FANGS! Did nobody here ever look in a friggin’ mirror? Your “fangs” are your canine teeth, which have four teeth between them, not two. (Same goes for wolves, dogs and cats.) Especially goofy because after he “turns”, Drac’s pointed canine teeth can clearly be seen (when he’s talking to his wife)–yet when he becomes a vampire, his incisors switch to the fangs! Same goes for all the other vampires, which just looks bizarre in closeups. Took me out of the moment and didn’t look scary.
- Anyone who’s a history expert like me (I watch the History Channel during the off-season) knows that the real Vlad the Impaler was a bad, bat-crap crazy sadist who made Hitler look like a street thug. NO way to reconcile that and make him sympathetic. Better to keep him fictitious.
- A couple behavioral things may make you go, “huh?” And there’s a scene at the end where Drac’s in daylight with no hat. I think they’re saying that just staying in the shade is enough. But it looks otherwise.
- The last couple minutes is blatant, sucker-the-audience “get ready for a sequel!” I would have preferred it ending earlier. Still would have left it open for a sequel, but not in such a patronizing, cheap way. Can’t say more, but curious to see what you all think.
Unless you’re a diehard Drac or Luke Evans fan, I think you can wait. Yeah, the wide landscapes, sweeping battle scenes and special effects look awesome on the big screen, but whether those 20 minutes or so are worth seven or ten bucks at the theater is totally up to you. I think the sequel(s) would make a better TV show than film franchise, though. I’d definitely watch it.
P.S.: Pascale has been drawing Dracula and vampires for more than a couple decades. If you’ve ever wanted your very own vampire art for a fair price, what better time than Halloween? Just ask Craig here!
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of Wednesday’s Heroes, Mike Pascale, Middle Ages emperors, Turks, Transylvanians or emo teenagers. Wondering if they’ll have a typical Universal Dracula vs. Frankenstein crossover like they used to? I’d like to see Luke Evans fight Aaron Eckhart!