Dracula Untold: Review

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By Seyi Odusanya.

Dracula Untold is the revisionist take on the classic bloodsucker that wants you to believe that Vald/Dracula (Luke Evans) wasn’t such a bad guy; the nasty Turks stole him from his home of Transylvania and trained him to be a child soldier in their army. Sure he become notorious due to his habit of impaling a few people upon giant wooden stakes but he only did to spare the lives of thousands, in truth Vlad was a loving family man and a noble Transylvanian prince. After some Turks led by the Sultan Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) demand Vlad hand over his own son plus a thousand Transylvanian boys to become soldiers in his army or they’ll destroy his kingdom, Vlad seeks the dark power of a cave-dwelling vampire (Charles Dance) to give him the strength he needs to fight the Turks and save his people, thereby beginning his transformation into the Dracula we all know. And yet he never really becomes the monster we all know, in the film he remains a selfless hero who made a great sacrifice to save his kingdom and this change in characterisation is the problem from the start.

It’s like the film was made by a Dracula apologist trying really hard to make him a hero, but it’s problematic because Dracula has always been a villain, monster or at the very least an anti-hero in some works. He is never a monster here; in fact he’s treated like a tragic superhero from start to finish and never the legendary vampire. Even when the film gets to the moment when Vlad proclaims himself Dracula there was never a point where I believed he actually became Dracula of myth and lore. Despite this Luke Evans does a solid job as Vlad but is never given the opportunity to be Dracula due to the characterisation, Sarah Gordon as Vlad’s wife Mirena is good but sadly wasted and Dominic Cooper is ridiculous but refreshingly evil as Mehmed II. Charles Dance in what little screen time he has is good enough even though it feels like he’s still Tywin Lannister (which is not a bad thing). Most of the cast are good in fact, but there characters are so underwritten and practically have no depth to them I kept forgetting their names, but sometimes the film doesn’t even bother with their names. Charles Dance vampire is supposed to be Roman Emperor Caligula but never called Caligula and certain character motivations are just missing like the strange guy who suddenly worships Vlad after he becomes a vampire for no reason at all.  The weak script really hinders the film’s cast; they can’t explore these characters because there’s so little to them. However that’s the least of this film’s problems.

Dracula Untold is not a horror film, it’s an action film which I have no problem with if the action is filmed well, and the first major battle where Vlad single-handedly takes on an army of Turks is truly awful. I can’t tell you what happened during that battle because I could barely see it; it’s dark, murky and of course it’s all filmed in nausea inducing shaky-cam. I get that’s it’s supposed to convey the chaos of seeing Vlad’s powers in action but it’s so incomprehensible I actually felt dizzy afterwards. But that is the worst of it and the battles do improve, the best being a spectacular scene where Vlad controls an army of bats as they descend upon the Turks like a gigantic wave and the last battle between Vlad with an army of vampires and the Turks is also visually impressive. Dracula Untold gets a lot of things wrong but to its credit it’s trying to do something different with the character even if it is misguided. This would’ve been a much better film if the action was filmed better and the writing stronger but as it is its dumb fun that works more often than it doesn’t. Not good but not bad either.


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Alton loves film. He is founder and Editor In Chief of BRWC.  Some of the films he loves are Rear Window, Superman 2, The Man With The Two Brains, Clockwise, Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, Trading Places, Stir Crazy and Punch-Drunk Love.


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