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Neither awful enough to suck nor sharp enough to bite, Dracula Untold misses the point of its iconic character's deathless appeal.
All Critics (129)
| Top Critics (25)
| Fresh (31)
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[Evans] carries Untold by admirably fulfilling the two essential functions of a period-movie hero: to enunciate comic-book dialogue with Shakespearean authority and to look great with his shirt off.
Most of the time, I found myself feeling like I was waiting for a turn with the gaming controls.
If you can selectively ignore this litany of inanity, you may find some substantial earthy pleasures in "Dracula Untold."
The idea is to humanize one of the most fearful monsters in the Western crypt. But Dracula Untold goes way overboard, past domestication and into canonization.
A generic vampire tale in the Underworld vein that comes closer to the infamous Van Helsing than a memorable re-interpretation of a legendary monster.
The movie is the latest multiplex filler to co-opt a classic tale only to drown it in computer-generated murk. Even the title has the ring of something created by committee.
Sometimes, what a film needs is a good script, and this proves that some stories are probably best left untold.
Dracula Untold has a surprisingly soft bite -- succumbing to PG-13 level violence. It's a movie that clearly allowed the film to expand to a larger audience, but it also takes away some of the suspense and menace.
Dracula Untold has its flaws, but when it works, it soars like a flock of bats.
Dracula Untold tries to do something different with the character's mythology but buckles from trying to do too much in too little time.
[Dracula Untold] gives us a nonsensical picture of a tortured hero, forced by nobility into his life of mutilation. Even with stellar performances, it is a story that was better off Untold.
As long as you don't really associate Untold with any previous Dracula renditions or think about the history behind it, then it's a relatively fun and painless popcorn-munching storm.
Dracula's retold origin story, with very few ties to the historical character or Stoker's sources, as an action-packed medieval adventure with a few horror aspects. The special effects are great and there are a few (visually) outstanding scenes, with its short running time, the film could hardly bore you if it tried. That being said, it also feels pretty shallow, staying one rather predictable paths just aiming for the sequel that may never come in the end. There is some unused potential here, one has to wonder why the film didn't take the time to breathe and add some depth to its characters and story.
The old monster was not always a monster, was not always old, and this reboot, seen through what seems like teen angst-y goggles, takes a look at that possibility. And so the decisions that bring the monster out are inspected and verified, and not badly as well. In the middle, a dark and mysterious supernatural element, a power, and one that seduces ultimately, that begs redress, hides in the darkness of a cave in the wilderness.
Many critics didn't like this. I think they're wrong is all. This is okay, overwrought in places, maybe, but nice as the kicker of a possible new series.
The movie previously called 'Dracula: Year Zero' which is no better frankly, I'm guessing the untold means there will be more. Seeing as Universal is doing this whole reboot of their Universal monsters franchises then I'm very sure we will be getting ungodly sequels. What kinda worries me is the fact this movie ends with Dracula in the present day, does this mean more 'Underworld' type shenanigans? rut roh!
OK so lets light this historically gothic candle. First and foremost this isn't the classic Dracula tale oh no, this is a re-imagining of the story...rut roh!! Aaaaand this is where my negativity rant begins...Right off the bat (no pun intended) the plot is fluffed. We find out that a man in a cave (Charles Dance) made a deal with a demon from hell for dark powers long ago, he was tricked by the demon and had to remain in this cave forever as this powerful undead vampire. The hook being he could only break this curse by allowing someone to see him, allow them to escape the cave and then allow them to return...for some reason unknown to me. The problem with this little setup is every person who enters the cave the vampire kills soooo how does he ever intend to be free of the curse?
Following on from that, If a person returns to the cave and drinks the vampires blood he will gain some of the vampires powers...but not all. No in this movie the human gets a three day trial to play with the vampires super powers first and if he doesn't like them he can revert back to a mortal if he manages not to feed on any humans over that three day period (facepalm). If said person does feed on a mortal during the three day period he will turn completely to the dark side and will be a full blown vampire with full powers. This in turn will free the original vampire from his curse and damp cave dwelling for some reason. Not sure why this demon offered a get out clause.
Right got that? no? tough. The actual plot behind this movie is actually well thought out despite the ridiculous re-imagining of Dracula. The historical backdrop of the tale is still in the Middle Ages but now Prince Vlad the Impaler was brought up in the Ottoman Empire as a warrior slave, trained to fight and kill in the Sultan's Janissary corp (this is partly fact, he was actually held hostage by the Turks for a few years). The Janissary corp were an elite fighting force made up of young Christian boys forced into the ranks at a very young age. They were brought up in the ways of Islam and war with strict discipline but given many privileges such as a good education, uniform, pay and a pension (think the Spartans and '300'). In the long run most of the Janissaries became the top dogs in society with their own social class despite starting out as slaves.
I liked this angle very much and the way the writers have tied all this into the classic Dracula story, it actually works well. The Ottoman Empire is of course very much a part of the real Vlad Dracul's history. Here they have tied in his young fictional son (?) and wife into the bargain with the use of the Janissaries and the war against the Turks and their very real historical Sultan Mehmed II.
So the plot is nicely blended in with historical fact to a degree and truthfully the movie starts off really well. The visuals are sumptuous with costumes, sets, props, weapons, flags/standards etc...every tiny detail looking very authentic, it all looks so good you'd think you were watching a genuine epic. Unfortunately things go down hill fast, the first sign of this being the simple fact that Luke Evans as Vlad is all buffed up with a nice overall tan...just like a superhero...how coincidental. I'm going somewhere with this train of thought stick with me.
Well I've said already haven't I...this isn't a movie about Dracula oh no, this is a movie ultimately about Dracula the fecking superhero. That's right folks its as blatant as the red pants in Superman's campy outfit. For a start he is able to defeat entire armies of warriors single handed so all notions of any threat, thrills or danger are gone. His special move involves him (hitting the A and B buttons together) turning into a colony of bats so he can fly all over the place like errmm...a dark superhero, its literately the same as Demitri Maximoff from the Darkstalkers videogame. He can apparently control the weather at will, he can control armies of bats at will (these bats can kill heavily armed troops it seems) and he has special vampire vision whenever he needs it which reverts his eyes to normal so as not to scare the regular folk.
The movie just gets worse and worse I'm afraid, the Ottoman leaders are worried about Vlad's powers and worried he might be scaring their men...so they blindfold them all. Yes you read that right they blindfold every man and march blindfolded into battle. Yet despite all their worries no one is ever seemingly bothered about the supernatural undead tomfoolery going on around them, hell the Turk leaders don't give a shit apparently, average day for them.
I also don't understand, near the end the film shows Dance seemingly turning mortal again in the daylight once all this comes to fruition, but at the end of the movie he returns as a vampire again? anyone?
There it is people, such is the massive influence of comicbook flicks today...they have taken a true literacy horror classic and turned him into a flippin' superhero. I mean seriously he's a good guy here, they humanise him, where's the horror? where's the suspense? Its just another lazy action hybrid with some generic Peter Jackson/Tolkien wannabe action sequences. Holy crapenspiel its basically Superman for fucks sake!! Superman with his army of killer bats.
As a horror flick, this Dracula is toothless, earning two stars at best. The strange absence of blood from a vampire/war film renders the experience anemic. I also don't get the point of making a film that portrays pre-vampire Dracula as sympathetic and heroic -- and I certainly don't understand why a plot point would focus on Dracula's apparent ability to control his blood-lust or to sacrifice vampiric interests in favor of human ones -- that is, unless the studio hoped to turn this "Dracula" into a hero vampire in the mold of Wesley Snipe's Blade.
Despite these problems, approaching the film as an action film, it's actually quite enjoyable. The costumes and CGI are very good, and Evans and Dance deliverer very good performances (for an action/horror film), although the same cannot be said for Gadon and Murtagh, both of whom are merely adequate. There are some script problems, of course, which border on the absurd. For example, Dracula will single-handedly take on 1000 attacking soldiers, who all apparently stop their castle attack/charge to gather 'round and watch themselves be picked off one by one -- and during this process (which must have been over an hour or so, given Dracula's slaughter pace), none of the soldiers defending the castle seem to notice, because they only come charging out the gates (looking baffled) after Dracula has slain the entire attacking army!
If you can put up with silly writing, you aren't in the mood for a horror film, and you just want a mindless action movie, I would recommend this film. But now the true test: if there's a sequel made, I'll buy a ticket.
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