Dracula Untold is a story that should have remained untold. Our dear anti-hero, Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans, a poor man’s Orlando Bloom), must protect his kingdom of Transylvania against the Turks. The Turks held him as a royal hostage as a young boy and trained him to be a ruthless soldier. Determined that history shall not repeat itself, Vlad decides he must do whatever is necessary to stop the Turks. When the Turks demand that they be given 1,000 Transylvanian children to be used as soldiers, Vlad spends approximately less than a minute thinking about how to stop them, and he goes to the Master Vampire (Charles Dance), the ever-so-friendly local demon spawn. Vlad begs the Master Vampire to give him the powers he deems necessary to save his kingdom; but, Vlad’s newfound powers come with a catch: he must resist drinking human blood for three days so that he may return to his human state.
The plot for this movie has little substance. Although it has a beginning, middle, and end (a rare thing to find nowadays), the plot only acts as a set-up for the next fight scene. Character development, though minimal, does exist. The film’s fast-pace makes the movie skim over scenes that could have enriched and delved deeper into the plot.
The film is supposed to be a backstory on how Dracula devolved from a great man to the monster we know and love. But, by focusing on the fight scenes, the film skims over the scenes that actually show Dracula’s character growth. There is also a complete lack of suspense because, spoilers, Vlad is going to become Dracula. The inevitability of the end makes the film’s denouement lack luster.
The cinematography used is generic. The shots are formulaic and about the same as in every other action film. Director Gary Shore’s attempts to give the film more artful shots, although good in theory, were poorly executed and tawdry. The simplistic cinematography made the fight scenes refreshingly easy to follow, but the repeated images made the film a dull watch. A person can only watch a cloud of bats for so long before it looses its cool factor.
Shore imitates plenty of other films in the making of his own. The impaled figures back-dropped by a blood-red sky is all too reminiscent of Francis Coppola’s 1992 Dracula. The platoons of thousands of CGI soldiers mindlessly killing each other could have been taken directly out of Zack Synder’s 300 or Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings — not to mention how the Master Vampire bares an all too striking resemblance to Joss Whedon’s character “The Master” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Dracula Untold’s lack of horror seems deeply unfitting, considering it is about vampires. If you are looking for a movie to watch to prove your Halloween spirit, skip this one and go for something with more of a spook factor. The only scary thing about this film is how bad it is.