Dracula Untold Director: Gary Shore
Screenwriter: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Cast: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Samantha Barks, Charles Dance, Charlie Cox, William Houston, Noah Huntley Universal Pictures
Rated PG-13 | 92 Minutes
Release Date: October 10, 2014
Directed by Gary Shore, Dracula Untold tells the story of Transylvanian prince Vlad III ÈšepeÈ™ (Luke Evans), whose period of peace is threatened when Sultan Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) demands 1,000 of his kingdom’s young men, including Vlad’s own son, Ingeras, to join his army.
To save his son, his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon), and the land he loves, Vlad journeys to Broken Tooth Mountain. There he encounters an ancient sorcerer, Caligula (Charles Dance), and enters into a Faustian bargain – one that gives the prince the strength of a hundred men, the speed of a falling star, and the mystical powers necessary to vanquish his enemies. In return, he will be afflicted with an insatiable thirst for human blood and fulfill his destiny as the legendary Count Dracula.
A revisionist take on the origins of Dracula, Dracula Untold is an amalgam of films like Maleficent, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Lord of the Rings, Batman Begins, and even forgotten flicks like Pathfinder and The 13th Warrior. Essentially this is a superhero film, with Dracula as a literal Bat-Man, who uses his supernatural abilities – like his dominion over the night and its creatures – to fight thousands of Turkish troops who march on Castle Dracula like Uruk-hai.
Listen, Dracula Untold isn’t a good movie. While it doesn’t out-and-out suck, Shore’s film completely misses the point of the character’s appeal. It doesn’t succeed as a sweeping historical epic (e.g. Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven) or a cheesy action-horror flick like Underworld or Resident Evil – it’s just kind of dull, really. The dialogue is so stilted and contrived it sounds like George Lucas took a pass at the screenplay, and the visual effects do little to elevate the material from an extended video game cut scene.
But, there’s one aspect of Dracula Untold that I find fascinating, and that’s Universal Pictures’ plans for a Shared Monsters Universe. The studio has plans to reboot their Universal Classic Monsters, the legendary line-up of monster movies including Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, The Invisible Man, The Bride of Frankenstein, and The Creature From the Black Lagoon, and create an Avengers-style crossover event.
Without giving too much away, there’s a character in this film who will serve as the mega-franchise’s Nick Fury, going around and recruiting the other legendary monsters for some ultimate battle. My guess? He’s putting a team together to fight Satan himself – the demon responsible for their twisted and cruel fates. It’s an interesting concept, and if done well it could be fun – but if subsequent reboots are as bland as Dracula Untold, there won’t be many laughs (or scares) to be had.