Monday, December 22, 2014

Film Review: Dracula Untold (2014)

Copyright: Universal Pictures
If you don’t like this film, and I sure wasn’t made into its fan after I watched it, its name offers many possible puns. Like, this movie is so bad that its story should be like its title and it should have remained untold. Or, doesn’t this film kill its own name by telling the story which is supposed to be “untold”?

Granted, these puns are not that great. But, truth to be told (not untold), this film isn’t that great either. But, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that I felt as someone who was robbed of 90 minutes. The key issue and the slipping point of this film is the fact that its director, Gary Shore, simply didn’t know where to take it most of the time.

The movie industry is continuously drawn to the story of Dracula and vampires in general. Psychologically speaking, there are so many good things in these tales that they are simply irresistible – sexual allusion of dominance, clothing style, the notions of unstoppable power that comes at a great personal cost – vampire have it all, and they are easy for everyone to understand them.

Shore decided to take a bite from this blood cookie (pun overload), but focused on something that films like Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula only grazed – the origin story of this famous Transylvanian feudal guy turned monster turned even bigger monster. In the film, Luke Evans plays the Transylvanian prince who was brought up in the Ottoman court. There, he became a well-known killer of Ottoman enemies, but got to go back home. The film finds him as a happy married man, but faith brings the Turks back to his feudal doorstep.

Certain that the Transylvania will lose the upcoming war, the Prince ventures to a mountain where an unspoken horror lies, only to find the slim chance of resisting the Sultan and his army.

Shore is good when it comes to directing action sequences and depicting CG eye candy (although he too often turned to darkness to mask visual problems), but on a bigger scale, the film is in a continuous state of lag. The Prince comes and goes, while his entourage, including his wife and son, do the same, occasionally meeting and then moving further. Because of this, it is hard to latch on to something while movie frames of forests and dead Turkish soldiers (who are in almost every situation both unreasonably sarcastic and unafraid) make up of 60% of all visual material in the film.

The redeeming qualities of Dracula Untold are Evans and the excellent Charles Dance. Both of them deserve much better, as Evan already showed in No One Lives, but still they managed to salvage this film from being almost comically bad to the level of mediocre. The very end of the film is especially unpleasant to watch, and reminded me of the ending to The Maze Runner, where the creators practically beg the audience to demand a sequel.

Gary Shore has a capable director’s eye, but I would advise him to steer clear of any possible sequel (apart from his personal financial reasons). While watching Dracula Untold wasn’t a devastating experience, I’m pretty sure that the sequel, especially in this form, will certainly be exactly that.

2 comments:

  1. Good thing the movie itself is not as tacky as the sound of the title.

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    1. Yeah, the title is a total disaster that probably sounded really cool to some movie executive.

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