Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Charles Dance
1.5/5The trailers of Dracula Untold filled the audience with the anticipation that it may reveal some inconvenient truths about the Son of Devil, Dracula, but what the film dished out was nothing better than a rehash of the same 14th century Transylvania story.
The politics of the Dracula story still suits the popular Western mindset that Europe is constantly under threat from the Muslims, and thus the director Gary Shore has kept the basic philosophy intact.
The story unfolds with Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans) who has a history full of bloodshed and unethical deeds. He was given to the mighty Ottoman King as a present also known as the royal hostage. On completion of his service, he was awarded the kingdom of a small state Transylvania where he lives with his queen Marina (Sarah Gadon) and his little prince. However, his life turns upside down when the new Ottoman King Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) demands his little son as the royal hostage. Defiance would mean the complete extinction of Transylvania and thus Vlad is left with just one choice and that is to fight the invaders, but this isn't possible without acquiring some supernatural powers.
The new film is more about the making of Dracula and thus it delves deep into the moral conflict of Vlad the Impaler before giving up to the demands of his family and subjects. However, at one level, the film becomes the story of the Master Vampire (Charles Dance) more than anybody else. The Master Vampire implants the idea of being invincible in the mind of Vlad and thus in a way controls the whole story. The director seems to believe in the same ideology and thus he stretches the canvas to fit in the umbrella stature of the Master Vampire. The culminating part of the story is based in the modern world where Master Vampire and Vlad are simultaneously breathing.
Watch: Dracula Untold trailer
Let's come back to the idea of being Dracula. On the outset, Vlad transforms into Dracula to protect his citizens but it was also driven by the idea of unethically achieved powers. Vlad remains a morally ambiguous person in a good part of his life and thus an overnight heartchange wasn't possible. Even if you are making it happen at any cost you need to back it up with logic. Also, the lord of Transylvania appears more concerned about the safety of his immediate family than his kingdom. My point of argument is, how can someone like Vlad be so morally upright? Such a weak character is likely to give in to the greed of being the supremely powerful creature on earth more easily than anybody else!
The characterisation is flawed and it restricts Luke Evans from showcasing his range as an actor. He tries a lot in some of the scenes but the screenplay hampers the positive growth of his acting graph.
Initially, the cinematographer captures some fascinating long shots but slowly and steadily everything becomes dependent on CGI. They are not bad but colour saturation can't supplement for a weak storyline.
The director sets the premise with a lot of efforts in the first half but he himself starts contradicting logic in the second half. The son of Vlad is the narrator of the story but he is conspicuously absent in the latter period. All the love that Dracula displays towards his family vanishes in the climax which is amazingly shallow.
The climax is too melodramatic and full of zombies. How can there be so many draculas! Even if they were newly incarnated draculas they looked more like zombies, acting without brain. On top of that, an unimaginatively designed priest appears with the holy cross and starts giving sermons without adding anything to the story. The priest looks shadier than other blood sucking creatures around him.
Dracula Untold gets reduced to a technically brilliant Bollywood horror movie towards the end and that probably sums it up.
As far as I am concerned, I was happy in finding familiar faces in the film. For example, I spotted Mish Boyko (Kangana's friend in Queen) before anybody else. I also recognised the tempered voice of Charles Dance (Remember Tywin Lannister of Game of Thrones) in a flash. Interestingly, his catch phrase in the film is, "Let the games begin."