“Dracula Untold” of course tells the tale of the world’s most famous vampire, but this time, instead of going down the Bram Stoker route, this film goes for what feels almost like a super hero origin story.
The movie picks up with the main character, Vlad, the ruler of Transylvania, a few years after fighting in multiple wars where he became known as one of the most fearsome warriors in the region. Retired from his life as a soldier, Vlad rules his kingdom and spends time with his family, and things seem good.
That is until an army of Turks come calling, demanding young Transylvanians to be recruited for their army. Pulling a King Leonidas, Vlad refuses the powerful Turk army and decides to find a power to help his kingdom succeed in the ensuing battle. His search for power, though, leads him to becoming something monstrous.
The retelling of Dracula’s origin story was certainly a welcome change of pace to the vampire movie genre and it was great seeing a film focus on the character’s backstory, making him out to be a hero.
That being said, there were definitely some issues here. First and foremost, the runtime is only 92 minutes and it felt like the movie was rushing through every second. The pacing simply felt sped up and didn’t exactly let many things develop.
Also, the way the movie portrayed a guy who was nick-named “Vlad the Impaler” was a little too goody good for me. The Dracula the movie portrays here, when not on the battle field, came across as being a bit too perfect. He maybe could have used a bit of an anti-hero feel.
The acting was just OK at best. Luke Evans isn’t exactly memorable or mesmerizing as Dracula, playing the role in a standard way without giving the character much life.
Dominic Cooper, who played the main villain, was probably the weakest part of the whole movie. It really seemed like he was phoning this one in, which is a shame since he is a talented guy. It’s more or less that he wasn’t given that much to do as the film’s main antagonist.
The person who gave one of the better performances was Sarah Gadon, who played Vlad’s wife. Gadon was surprisingly emotional and delivered her performance very well.
Also giving a good, short performance was Charles Dance, the vampire who gives Vlad his Dracula powers. Dance has a haunting presence when he’s on screen and does the role justice.
There were some really neat action scenes and they are the film’s only real highlight. For example, Vlad, with his vampire powers, can summon an entire army of bats to attack his enemies, and the way he uses that in the final climactic battle is an awesome sight to behold.
Unfortunately, the closer, more hand to hand combat scenes were a bit lacking and could have benefited from some Zack Snyder-esque slow motion.
Overall, “Dracula Untold” is reminiscent of 2012’s “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.” The idea isn’t bad and there are some fun parts to it, but for the most, part everything from the acting to the way the story is fleshed out is rather weak. It’s one of those flicks that is OK to catch on cable some time for the action. 2 out of 5.