Dracula Untold Bites: A Review

1414633878-draculaunt-o

Credited to pantip.com

Dracula, arguably the world’s most famous vampire created by Bram Stoker, gets yet another big screen incarnation, having seen countless adaptations over the years in both movie and television form. But wait, we’re told, this one’s different because, well, because it’s Dracula UNTOLD, thank you very much.

So what is the deal with this latest Dracula incarnation? Just what is this untold part exactly that we just have to know about Count Dracula? In a nutshell, this movie is, as being touted about by Universal, the cast, and press is that it is a prequel, the story of how Count Dracula became the Count Dracula that we all know and love. If you’re going by the book by Stoker, the Count there is a really old vampire fellow but in this movie, he’s the extremely hot and buff Luke Evans. Fair enough. After all, it’s a Hollywood flick, who really wants to see an old guy be an action hero anyway. (I would pay to see that though, even if the stunts were performed by a younger stuntman, and this totally excludes The Expendables gang or any Liam Neeson Taken movies BTW). I would like to a see a sole older man kind of character be the hero and save the world for once, but that is irrelevant for now, instead let’s just focus on Hollywood’s obsession with youth.

For many years now, we’ve been told that Dracula has been inspired by the real life historical figure, Vlad the Impaler. Or as some quarters know him, Vlad III. This piece of information is something that everyone has been fed with consistently, a sort of general trivia if you may. However, recent reports suggest that perhaps Bram Stoker was not exactly inspired by Mr Vlad’s tale, just his family title apparently, Dracula. We now delve into the “Dracula Untold” review.

The movie establishes that Dracula was Vlad Tepes immediately. From his name to title, fancy castle, everything. Young Vlad Tepes was conscripted as a child soldier for the Turks upon the demand by the Sultan that one thousand boys must be given to him in exchange for Vlad’s dad to keep on being king of his kingdom and Vlad’s dad agrees. So young Vlad grows up with the Turks, becoming a killing, fighting machine, and slaughtering villages just, as the narration states, so that other villages can live, impaling them, thus the Vlad the Impaler title.

In exchange for his services, Vlad (Luke Evans) is allowed to be king of his country and the whole practice of giving a thousand boys for war purposes is abolished, at least for ten years. Vlad now has a happy family with a beautiful wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and cute son Ingeras (Art Parkinson). But alas, one day, the Turks make an about-turn and send a delegation on the pretext of collecting their usual tithes from Vlad’s country; they want to resume their thousand boys practice again, which includes Vlad’s son.

              Credited to http://f.ptcdn.info

1413518040-DraculaUnt-o

Naturally, Vlad is aghast. After all, its been ten years, and now the Turks are resuming that archaic practice again? Vlad is torn into repeating his father’s practice in exchange for his country’s safety. His wife Mirena begs Vlad to appeal to his childhood BFF, Sultan Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) of the Turks to spare them of this abhorrent practice, especially for their son’s sake. So off Vlad goes; unfortunately no, the Sultan won’t budge and Vlad has no choice but to agree to spare his country from the Turks’ wrath because he has no army of his own.

While handing over his son to the Turks, Vlad makes an about turn and resorts to the only way he can to save his country. To the legendary vampire monster that resides in the mountains, the Master Vampire (Charles Dance). The Master, possibly the best character in this movie, gives Vlad a choice; drink his blood and turn into a vampire complete with vampire powers and all, but he must refrain from drinking blood for three days before he can revert to human form. Easy said than done. I’m sure we all know what becomes of Dracula in the end anyway; so this movie is to see how Vlad manages to struggle to control his new lust for blood while leading his people at war.

                                                                                                                        Credited to terrorama.net

Dracula-Untold Master Vampire

In scenes reminiscent of when superheroes first gain their powers, Vlad discovers his newly acquired vampire abilities and uses it to good effect in the first battle against the Turks. The CGI work in these scenes are amazing and are not really gory as one would expect from a movie titled “Dracula Untold” as one would expect. (No wonder, due to its PG-13 rating). Instead, the battle scenes are exciting,      fast-paced, and make for great viewing on the big screen. Spoiler here: This scene is where Vlad squares off against a thousand men and beats them all. Watch it if you can; it’s amazing.

Of course; Vlad’s trusted advisers are puzzled as to how their king managed to beat a thousand men and come out relatively unscathed. Vlad successfully manages to conceal his powers and blood lust other than to his wife Mirena. Though Sarah Gadon does her job well as Vlad’s wife and Ingeras’s mother, her role is reduced to a merely ineffective female figure. However, she does serve as an important catalyst for Vlad in this movie so look out for that. As for the depiction of the Turks; while I understand that this is Hollywood and you do not rely on Hollywood for accurate depictions of minorities or rather historical facts that involve minorities, etc, the Turks here were reduced to a mere caricature of themselves. I am not saying that Hollywood gets it wrong all the time, obviously there are plenty of great biopics and other depictions have been fine but typically this is what Hollywood is known for. Hollywood gives a little leeway to history. This movie itself is embroiled in a controversy purportedly for its anti-Islamic depictions but, as mentioned previously, it’s a Hollywood movie so watch it with an open mind. Do that and you’ll get a truly entertaining flick that does its job of entertaining you during its an hour and a half run. I for one was thoroughly entertained watching this flick (being a vampire buff does not count) in enhancing my enjoyment of this film.

For historical facts in a quickie, the real Vlad the Impaler had a penchant for killing and impaling his victims. He was later defeated by the Turks, who were assisted by Vlad’s very own brother Radu. To know more and decide on whether he was a villain or hero, do look out for the information yourself by doing a little research. Back to the movie then…

The cast give good performances especially Charles Dance, even in his brief turn here as the Master Vampire. Of course lead actor Luke Evans is charismatic as the humanized Dracula who is trying to protect his country and family. However, the supporting characters don’t really stand out and are rather forgettable. Even the villain Sultan Mehmed is rather one-dimensional. Sarah Gadon’s Mirena is bland but she does her best with the limited material she is given. Credit should be given to the cast for making do with whatever they were thrown at and making the best out of it.

VladMirenaKiss tumblr

Credited to in-this-life-and-the-next.tumblr.com

This movie, though exciting and quite a good movie actually, suffers from a déjà vu syndrome, especially if you’ve been exposed to all the numerous vampire and supernatural television series on television and other vampire movies. It’ll all look rather familiar as it has been done before and you can’t really try to present something new and fresh in vampire movies when it involves blood and biting into victims. Dracula Untold is obviously a historical and literary fusion genre movie unless you want to believe that Vlad III really did obtain his lust for blood by making a deal with a Master Vampire and therefore later acts like a superhero, this is where we are told the Dracula Untold part comes in.

While the ending of the movie was satisfactory, I’m sure most would have heard that Universal are planning on making a ‘Monster Universe’ franchise ala Marvel and DC with its Superheroes stable. They will be releasing upcoming movies of their iconic monsters such as Frankenstein and the reboot of The Mummy movie. You could definitely tell the reshoot of the ending which sets itself up for a sequel and potential Monster universe franchise movies start-up. Frankly, I thought the obvious original ending was fine without the addition of the unnecessary re-shot ending. This movie may not satisfy Dracula purists but at the end of the day, I would recommend it just for its high entertainment value.

Advertisements