“They do not fear of swords; they fear of monsters,” said Vlad Tepes.
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In his full-feature debut, director Gary Shore attempts to look beyond the literature dearest blood-sucker, Dracula; but what comes off is not another adaptation of Bram Stoker’s like Francis Ford Coppola’s, and our dearest villain is not another reincarnation of Béla Lugosi, nor Christopher Lee, nor Frank Langella, nor even Gary Oldman. Shore, along with his writers, reveal an ‘untold story’ of Dracula—which goes Maleficent (remember Disney seeks for the other side of their most badass villain?); Dracula Untold crosses over the “other side” of Count Dracula a.k.a Vlad Tepes with the “compelling” beauty of Westeros instead (if you know what I mean).
Dracula Untold reimagines Vlad a.k.a Dracula (Luke Evans) as a product of Turk deadliest weapon before he decides to return to Transylvania to rule in peace. His demise comes when his childhood “brother”, now the new sultan of Turks, Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) demands 1,000 Transylvanian youths to join his Janissary—among the number, Vlad’s son, Ingeras (Art Parkinson from House Stark) is included. To save his people, along with his family, Vlad—the misdirected prince-father-husband—signs a blood pact with an ancient dark creature (Charles Dance from House Lannister); what he doesn’t know is, there’s no good deal with the evil. And so it goes, the untold story of our Dracula goes too sentimental and romantic (instead of being heroic).
What goes within this untold story, somehow, doesn’t make sense; even the script doesn’t provide reasons why this tale is supposed to be “untold”—while the story lost in progression between being not too scary and not too romantic. Dracula wastes too many energy in trying to convince us that this is a “real” movie with new brain to think, but, somehow cannot manage to save the power to dig out what’s inside the weary heart of Vlad the Impaler—a point that somehow reminds me of Paul W. Anderson’s works (save the last Pompeii).
However, Dracula Untold might be a good blood for blood-thirsty Game of Thrones fans, like me. This movie brings abundant resemblances to that HBO original (which doesn’t include intriguing conflicts, of course). I personally find it quite impressing to see fancy production designs that reminds me to King’s Landing in GoT with exuberant costumes and accessories as well as the astonishing European scenery. From the cast department, you’ll see familiar faces that you haven’t seen for a long time (perhaps a season) in the latest GoT as well as some face that you might never see ever again in the series (try to find Rickon Stark and Thoros of Myr… also recognize a ghost of Tywin Lannister). In addition, scoring from Ramin Djawadi will make you want to get back to Westeros asap.
Enough with the nostalgia. To wrap up, Dracula Untold is not a bad movie; it’s just a not so decent movie. Dracula is not Maleficent and he doesn’t have multi-POV layers of story. For the sake of his villainous reputation, it’d be better if this story remains ‘untold.’
Dracula Untold (2014)
Action, Drama, Fantasy Directed by: Gary Shore Written by: Matt Sazama, Buck Sharpless based on character by Bram Stoker Starred by: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Art Parkinson, Dominic Cooper, Charles Dance Running Time: 92 mins
Stills and references: IMDb