Dracula Untold starring Luke Evans.
Until the Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, i must admit i hadn’t heard of Luke Evans. But he put in a good performance in that film and doesn’t disappoint in this one. The plot is basic and predictable (certainly in the first hour, and its only a 90 minute film), but the film has plenty of action to keep you invested.
The basic premise is how Vlad (Luke Evans) is a prince, trying to protect his people from the power of the Turkish Sultan (Dominic Cooper) who demands a tribute of 1,000 boys to be trained as soldiers for his army. Unable to give up his only son, Vlad kills the Sultan’s envoys and then heads off to try and find a way to save his people from the hundreds of thousands of Turk soldiers. You know the rest – he ends up becoming a vampire named ‘Dracula’ to gain the strength he needs. The twist in this origin story? Vlad doesn’t want to become a vampire permanently, if he can avoid feeding for 3 days, he can revert to human form, if he can’t, he’s a vampire forever. Evans portrays this inner struggle very well, and he is one of the best things about the film (as one of the girls i live with noted, he’s also a very attractive lead).
The supporting cast? They all do their job well enough, even if Dominic Cooper is rather under-used as the main villain. Special notice goes to (the always fabulous) Charles Dance as the Master Vampire who gives Vlad his powers, putting in a very creepy performance in his limited amount of screen-time (he is also the only reason anyone might hope for a sequel). Art Parkinson (Rickon Stark on Game of Thrones) also impresses as Vlad’s son, but then Game of Thrones always produces the best child actors.
The special effects hold up well, with Vlad’s vampiric transformations and the hordes of bats at his command both being quite impressive (particularly the sequence where the bats form a massive fist which Vlad uses to smash the approaching Turk army). The director throws in a few visual flourishes (a battle scene where most of the action is seen reflected on a sword being particularly memorable) and generally speaking the film looks great.
There are a load of plot holes to contend with though (one of my flatmates can’t forgive the final fight scene between Vlad and the Sultan, where despite being weakened by silver Vlad manages to exert his powers at the last moment – which i admit is lazy and predictable scripting). A character also temporarily survives an impossibly long drop so Vlad can hear their final words – even the Amazing Spider-Man 2 had more realism than that!
Your enjoyment of this film will probably depend on what you what you think of the ending, which has a couple of divisive twists (and a hint of a sequel, as Charles Dance’s Master Vampire observes ‘Dracula’ a long time in the future while saying ‘Let the Games Begin’ – suggesting he is collecting on the debt Vlad owes him).
Overall, highly enjoyable, but not very clever, this is good popcorn cinema, but won’t stand up to any serious analysis by reviewers.
Rating: 3 out of 5.