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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Dracula Untold | Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon, Charles Dance | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

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Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
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Dracula Untold | Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon, Charles Dance | Review

Sorry, Bram Stoker.

Turns out Dracula, a.k.a. Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans) is really a good guy, a devoted husband to Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and family man who prays to God and loves his son (Art Parkinson) dearly.  So dearly, that he’ll be damned if the Turks will enslave the lad, the way Vlad was as a child when the Turkish Sultan demanded 1000 young boys from Vlad’s father, the Transylvanian King.  Apparently a Sultan trumps a mere King in the ruler hierarchy of the 1400’s.

Well, damned Vlad indeed becomes when he trades places with a foul, blood-sucking creature (Charles Dance) in a cave on Broken Tooth Mountain.  Just temporarily mind you, until the Turkish hordes are crushed by his newfound strength, speed, and dominion over the night.  He just has to hold out for a few days without slaking his terrible thirst for…it’s red, and it ain’t wine.  

Vlad can also transform himself into and control thousands of bats so that they swoop, scramble, and slap to death everything in their path (hey, those leathery wings hurt at high speed).  The bat swarm can also synchronize themselves into shapes like one enormous fist to pound the enemy into a stain.  Turkish Taffy, anyone?

Vlad moves much of the inhabitants of his kingdom to an abbey-fortress, but the Turks, led by Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) are determined to crush the rebellion, steal Vlad’s son (and 999 others) and show off their supremacy (and pointy helmets).  Vlad possesses some points of his own and they’re not on top of his head.  Can he, will he, make it through the night without taking the sip that will condemn him to an undead destiny?  Decisions, decisions.  If only some of them made sense.

Several puzzling events may cause more discriminating viewers to ponder, “Wait a minute…why does…?” or “How come…?” without even summoning the interest to care one way or the other.  Glaring plot holes further cause this to miss the jugular and starve the viewer for lack of interest.  Uninspired and flat, the film does little to engage the viewer; we are not invested in any of the characters nor the outcome, and we should be in order for this retelling to have an impact.

Director Gary Shore, in his feature film debut, achieves some stunning CGI visuals and Luke Evans as the doomed immortal is just as stunning a presence but falls short of salvation, even with the power of his many bat wings.  He’s the one to watch, though, possibly poised for a future breakthrough role; perhaps something with teeth.  Ironically, this is not it.

How a film concerned with sharp weapons, wooden stakes, impalement, and fangs could wind up so dull is almost its most quizzical “point.”  Not buyin’ it.

Dracula: Unsold.


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