Dracula Untold (2014)
I passed on opportunity of seeing Dracula Untold at the cinema in late 2014, as I was not overly impressed by what I had seen from the trailers. I finally caught up with Universal's reboot of the franchise, hoping that a home viewing and tempered expectations would make me more cordially disposed towards the film. Sadly, the movie turned out exactly as I had surmised, proving to be a superficial under taking with no narrative depth. Furthermore, is was a bloodless action film, rather than a true horror movie, resulting in a very unsatisfying compromise. The fact that this movie made over $200 million globally at the box office saddens me.
Dracula Untold benefits from the presence of Luke Evans as Vlad the Impaler. He is a likeable actor with old fashioned good looks. Sadly, there's is precious little for him to do during the films somewhat brief ninety-two-minute running time. The plot, dialogue and character development are perfunctory to say the least. Writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless script offers no depth or sophistication, rendering everything binary and simplistic. Dominic Cooper has zero credibility as the villainous Turkish Sultan, Mehmed the Conqueror. He is simply "bad" because that's what we are told in the most pedestrian fashion. Similarly, the passionate relationship between Vlad and his wife, Mirena (Sarah Gadon) lacks any dramatic conviction.
As usual these days with movies that hope to start a teen friendly franchise, the entire production seems far more concerned with visual style and overall ambience. The effects are impressive but cannot ultimately sustain a movie of this nature. The lack of emotional content meant that I was fundamentally indifferent to the central character’s plight. Furthermore, I couldn't even take comfort in the action sequences as they're meticulously edited to the requirements of the rating. This is a bloodless vampire movie and with little or no suspense and unpleasantness. Not even the scenes with Charles Dance as the master vampire can save things. This is a woefully anaemic tale about the undead, which is contradictory in itself.
Perhaps the most saddening thing about Dracula Untold is the fact that I can't even summon the energy to get angry about what a poor movie it is. This is simply par for the course. The movie was conceived and pitched with a very specific market in mind. One that is young and unfamiliar with the superior cinematic heritage that exists. The tone, pacing and superficial nature of the film is tailor made for an audience that loves to consume such material. While this demographic continues to robustly support such material then the studios will naturally continue to churn it out. It will be interesting to see if Universal Studios reboot of The Mummy this summer is any improvement cinematically.