Dracula wasn’t always ‘Dracula; lavishly attired blood sucking gentleman’. Before the lifestyle change he was humble Vlad the Impaler, an ultimate human badass capable of slaying hundreds of enemies and leaving their corpses on display in neat rows of vertical pikes. (Two questions here: 1/ who carried the pikes? And 2/ did Vlad ask his foes to queue in an orderly manner to await impalement, or did he skewer them first and line them up later?)
In any case Vlad must have the biggest case of white line fever on record. In peacetime Vlad rules his kingdom fairly and evenly. He is just a nice guy. He is a fair ruler, a good dad and a great husband. This somehow doesn’t mesh with the guy who leaves his defeated foes in an exhibition of human shishkebabs…
As a ruler Vlad is tops, but as a servant he is semi-loyal at best. When the countries’ leader arrives and informs him that he will be forcibly conscripting all the land’s young men – including Vlad’s son – the refusal places Vlad in the bad books and looking for answers to avoid the wholesale slaughter at the hands of the realm’s huge army.
This search introduces Vlad to sinister beings whose ominous promises seem the only option, even though they entail an avoidance of sunlight, a taste for human blood and the requirement for two large v-shaped fangs.
Vlad is told to abstain from drinking any blood whatsoever; by all means enjoy all the murders, just don’t drink the fruits of your labour…
Look as a coming of age story Dracula Untold would better have been left unsaid. We already knew how this was going to turn out. We’ve already endured the Anakin Skywalker story, and at least that was a retrospective precursor to some of the best films ever. There hasn’t been a great Dracula film yet, not by a long shot.
When the fangs arrive it is hardly an astonishing development. In fact the only new trick is the mastery of bats, which leads to at least half of the film’s CGI budget being blown on something the Count from Sesame Street got by with some felt tied to string.
Bill Nighy makes his five minutes count as always, stealing the only scenes in which he appears. Nighy seems to have a mortgage on being the only dignified presence in shitty B flicks. This film won’t change that.
In any case we meet Vlad after he has sworn off impaling, and prior to developing the thirst for blood. These are the two years Michael Jordan spent playing baseball. While one of those guys found the mastery of bats to be a little easier than the other, the fact remains that neither story requires chronicling.
Ultimately this is ninety minutes spent on the one boring period in the life of one of literature’s most lasting creations. And this is the bit they decided to turn into a film?
Final Rating – 5.5 / 10. Dracula: Unnecessary and underdone.