Dracula Untold – 2/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

dracula untoldDracula Untold – 2/5 – When it comes to films dealing with ‘mystical creatures’ or ‘monsters’; you would expect to be entertained by the action, horror or the tale of origins.  The monsters that most are familiar with (werewolves, vampires, and mummies) all have been repeated in some way within films.  There have been some good and bad films dealing with monsters.  With this new tale spinning Dracula’s origins; it has strong promise but turns into an experience that’s lacking substances.  Dracula Untold is a film that might appeal to the monster fans in some of us, but it is a film that will leave you not wanting to see it again.

Premise: It is the untold story; on how one man must turn to dark to save a kingdom.  In the end, that darkness transforms him into the infamous Dracula.

I’m am going to focus more on the main character, who is played by Luke Evans.  In the beginning, he is known as Vlad the Impaler.  A man of strong values and believes in his kingdom, must make dire decision to save all he holds dear.  Taking on the powers of the unknown, he must balance the lines of that darkness to battle the oncoming doom.   Luke Evans is a staunch actor; one that proves himself as a true anti-hero of sorts in this role.  Dancing the line between ‘becoming the evil Dracula’ and ‘being a Righteous Leader’ is very fragile, and he does a great job in proving to the audience there is a humanistic perspective to the most vile of choices.  Vlad’s commandment is strong and the delivery of the lines is raw and visceral.  Undoubtedly; if it wasn’t for Luke Evans, the movie would have been borderline terrible.   When it comes to the secondary cast (which includes the villain), they are typical of any kind of film dealing with ‘mystical’ tales.  You have the aloof bad guys, the dramatic love interest/wife, the sub-par but honorable sidekicks, and dumfounded citizens.  Even the villain (played by Dominic Cooper) who starts off with potential; winds up being cliché, over-the-top and one-dimensional.   The bad acting is the tip of the iceberg.

The direction of the film is completely predictable.  Within that predictability, you have an ‘origin’ tale.  With that kind of basic draw, you always have these typical questions that define it:

Who is the main that becomes the known idea/hero/villain?

What is the catalyst for the converging towards the known idea/hero/villain?

Why does the main become the known idea/hero/villain?

Those three define the basics of origins within a story; building the foundation of the film.  Why this particular tale fails beyond reason is because it never builds upon that foundation.  Within this film, there is complete reliance of false dramatization to stretch the basics.  What this causes is the magical becoming dull and the important moments becoming unnoticeable.  Before he becomes Dracula; he is Vlad the Impaler; a prince and ruler of Transylvania.  There has been peace for twenty years, until (catalyst) The Turks (and its leader) asking for a favor (1000 boys for its army).  Vlad doesn’t want this to happen to the boys of his kingdom, so he refuses (in dramatic fashion).  From here, the film fluctuates between ‘ridiculous’ to ‘unbearable’.  The action sequences use the infamous ‘shake cam’ orientation to create something ‘amazing’ for spectacle.  The film goes further into giving ‘Dracula’ immense powers, but nullifying these facts with the stretching of time and introducing flawed convenience.  Basically, the direction is saying the ‘audience’ are fools and ‘must’ accept what they see blindly.  Even for the terrible direction, pacing and overall story, you still find slight positive elements because of the general ‘Dracula/vampire’ subtle plot and Luke Evans’ strong aura.  You stay focus because you want to see the ‘why’ he becomes the titular character.  In the end, the climax is expected, the epilogue is ho hum, and all that seemed promising just becomes just an unwelcoming experience.

The visuals of the film are what you consider to be part of an ‘epic’ scale film.  From the creation of Transylvania, the castles, monasteries and armies, it all feels grand in scope.  The angling of cameras (minus shaky cam) and the usage of ‘dark’ lighting helps create a ghastly mood.  This settles the film’s tone to be somewhat believable.  The score is not worth mentioning; its importance is not there.

Overall, Dracula Untold could have been better if it actually had a worthy story to put on screen.  If not for Luke Evans, this film would have been completely unwatchable.  I recommend avoiding watching this in theaters, unless you like vampire tales.

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