FILM REVIEW: Dracula Untold
If you’re looking for escapism then Dracula Untold is where it’s at, with all the ingredients of a perfect alluring fantasy to get lost and wrapped up in.
Shaking off the religious subtexts and time period of 1992’s Dracula, starring Gary Oldman as the notorious vampire, Dracula Untold embodies the widely feared Transylvanian born prince Vlad III, who is said to have murdered hundreds of thousands of European civilians, usually by impaling and is widely thought to have inspired Bram Stoker when he was penning the infamous character. The film puts a unique spin on Dracula’s origin story that he was simply a desperate yet noble leader searching for peace and protection for his people against their enemy, the Turks.
When Vlad’s peaceful reign is interrupted by Sultan Mehmed II demanding that 1000 young Translyvanian boys be given to him, including Vlad’s only son, Ingeras, to fill his swelling army ranks, Vlad makes the courageous decision to return to the liar of a cursed and evil ancient sorcerer and obtain the power of a vampire to defeat the Turks and protect his family and people. The catch is he has three days to resist the voracious thirst for human blood or else he will remain in his cursed and dark state for eternity and the sorcerer will be free to walk the Earth enacting deadly revenge.
I don’t know if it was Luke Evans’ charming good looks or enthralling acting but the film had a romantic renaissance flare marking it out from previous adaptions. Instead of having his wife commit suicide after being misinformed about her husband’s death like in Bram Stoker’s Dracula ( 1974), Mirena makes the ultimate sacrifice in the end, making this interpretation a tale of tragedy and turbulent inner torment. However, to lighten the mood, Dracula Untold strikes a flawless balance of intense action and endearing family scenes to keep an unwaveringly entertaining pace.
The thunderous amplified clash of steel, epic special effects of swarms of bats ambushing enemies in their hundreds and stunning slow motion CGI overlayed with captivating voiceovers telling compelling fables to set and add to the scene, make for an faultless medieval medley of suspense, perilous battles and love and resilience.
This film also works if you’re seeing it for the horror factor, with Charles Dance making a chilling villain in any film (Last Action Hero, Game of Thrones) but with his haunting demeanor and disturbing realistic costume, he really excels at radiating pure evil, resonating fear within even the most seasoned horror viewers in Dracula Untold.
With the door left wide open for a gripping sequel, possibly bringing in more original characters like Dr. Van Helsing, Dracula Untold is definitely one to watch out for.