October 11, 2014

Movie Review: Dracula Untold should have been left that way.

Dracula Untold is a story that would have been best left untold. While, I think there are some good ideas to be found in here, there is a lot not to like. The entire project feels lackluster at best and it never really picks up energy. I kept watching, waiting, hoping, for something to flip the switch and really take off and give me something really good, but it never happened. I guess at some point I actually did have some hopes somewhere along the line. I shouldn't have. There was a time when vampires were monsters, when they were scary, when you would be terrified to know there was a vampire around. There is a bit too much romanticizing of the vampire going on these days.

I understand there is a certain tragic/romantic element to the legend of Dracula, it is something worthy of exploration, but it is also something that should not be divorced from the horrific monster that he is. With Dracula Untold we are given a romanticized origin that seems to be par for the course in this post-Twilight world. Now, it is not quite that bad, but it seems to have drawn inspiration from there and the current spate of superhero films. This very much feels like a superhero origin tale.

Luke Evans stars as Vlad the Impaler. We are told of how he was given to the Turks as a child to be used in the Sultan's army, how he became a feared warrior only to return home to rule Transylvania in peace. Things go well until the Turks show up looking for more child soldiers. At the same time, an evil is found lurking in a nearby mountain, a powerful evil. Vlad finding the need to use an extraordinary power to defend his people. He goes to that evil in the mountain, meets a vampire and samples his power.

Vlad then uses this power to battle the Turks for the safety if his wife, his son, and his people. Very heroic and noble thing to do. The big question is whether or not he can resist the urge to feed and regain his humanity. Power corrupts. Can he resist the allure of this power and avoid eternal damnation to the night? I think we all know what happens there.

I could never get into this movie. I like the idea of seeking out an evil power to attempt to use it for good. I like the idea of going to whatever lengths necessary to protect family and loved ones. I like the struggle to control the power and the evil and to try and retain a humanity. This is just not how you should go about executing it. Perhaps start by making it a film about someone else, not Dracula.

Watching Dracula Untold made me long for a day when monsters are scary again. It seems that, at least in mainstream movies, there is a concerted effort to defang our monsters, make them all relatable, misunderstood good guys. A little of this may be good, but to essentially remove the evilness from them is a mistake. Our monsters need to be monsters. This is just a hollow tale made to separate us from our money. It is a shame too, I kind of liked Luke Evans performance.

While I was leaving the theater, there were some people in the row behind me and I overheard them saying this was the best Dracula movie ever. Wow. Either they are not familiar with who and what Dracula is, or they have been blinded by the Hollywood machine. It reinforced the thought I had last week with people complaining about how terrible Gone Girl was. This is why we can't have nice things.

Not Recommended.

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