Dracula Untold is only 85 minutes before end credits run, and by minute 86 it’s already forgotten. It’s not even fun forgettable fluff though. It’s take itself really seriously dark fluff which makes it even harder to describe how forgettable it is.
Well, Dracula was a book. Let’s start there. They made Dracula into a movie. Several. A lot of them were really good. But instead of doing another remake, they thought a prequel could explain how he got to be Dracula. It’s a valiant theory for finding originality in existing material, but the execution is the same old revenge tragedy.
Vlad (Luke Evans) was ruling his Transylvanian kingdom in a peaceful coexistence with the Turks. When the Turks wanted to kidnap all Transylvanian boys to turn int soldiers, Vlad consulted a monster he’d discovered in a cave this one time. The monster gave him the power to defeat the Turks, along with a thirst for human blood. If he went three days without drinking blood, he would return to normal. So Vlad tries to kill all the Turks and hold out on drinking blood for three days.
So this untold story basically amounts to Vlad signed a contract with a return policy but ended up stuck with the bill. I would compare it to the Circuit City return policy on electronics if anyone still remembered what a Circuit City was. Perhaps a better name for the film would be The Three Days of the Vampire.
Dracula Untold has no fun with itself. You’d think a vampire fighting the Turkish army would be fun, but it’s boring. It’s a blur of shaky, quick cut, sepia tinted footage full of visual effects blurs of armies and bat storms. The only time it’s fun is when Vlad crushes a rock and watches his hands heal saying, “That’s useful.” But he also experiences a Dracu-sense where he can hear insects, but that never proves useful later. They do make the final confrontation a fair fight, by setting it in a pit of silver, so had we been invested in Vlad’s kingdom for 80 minutes we might have cared if he won that battle.
Since they’re not rewriting Bram Stoker (just writing up to Bram Stoker actually), you can see how this ends up with Vlad becoming Dracula. He’s not going to last the three days. Giving him a wife and son doesn’t change the story. Everyone has selfish reasons for making bad decisions, whether it’s killing for revenge or becoming a vampire for political reasons.
They do explain how he goes from Vlad to Dracula, and it involves a misunderstanding of the translation of Dracul. I will say Evans really seems committed. He’s giving it his all to establish a tortured antihero that could be a franchise for him. It’s just the material is rote. It’s not even a good formula film. They just took the usual formula and changed the names to Bram Stoker characters. Dracula 2000 had more fun with the Dracula myth.
Rating: Wait for Cable