Dracula Untold review

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Dracula Untold is a film which takes some elements from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and re-envision’s Dracula’s origin story. The titular character for Stoker’s novel is based on a real life historical figure, Vlad the Impaler, also known as Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, which is geographically Romania. Vlad is a popular folk hero in Romanian lore, and Stoker’s book adds a mythical element to an already established character, pushing on the idea of a vampire, and is actually responsible for the archetype of vampires we see today.

The story of Dracula Untold merges fact with fiction and follows legendary Transylvanian prince Vlad III Tepes (Luke Evans), who has an issue after an old tradition which had previously been abolished returns. Sultan Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) demands 1000 boys from Vlad’s kingdom to join his army, including Vlad’s own son. In order to stop Mehmed, protect his wife, son and kingdom, Vlad seeks power from the ancient Caligula (Charles Dance) who is located on Broken Tooth Mountain. He is gifted and burdened with a power that gives him the strength of 100 men, and superhuman abilities. However there is a catch; he has the thirst for human blood. If he succumbs to the lust of blood within these three days, he will become a vampire forever. And so begins the legend that is known as Dracula.

I always try to go into a film with an open mind and leave all my preconceived notions about said film at the theatre door. However, this was different. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I understand that Universal are going to kick off their Monsters Cinematic Universe, beginning with a reboot of The Mummy in 2016, however Dracula was originally the first of that line-up. So is it possible that Dracula Untold is a part of that universe?

There were many reasons I wanted this film to deliver, and it did just that. When mixing action and romance together, at times we can have an unhealthy balance, where films either have too many daisies or testosterone. However, whilst establishing the character of Vlad and the relationship he had with his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon), we have some intimacy, but not too much. We gathered what their relationship was, and we had a feel of how they felt for each other, and for their son Ingeras (Art Parkinson) also.

A key feature which I found interesting was that Vlad was by no means a saint. In the past he did some immoral deeds, and at a point felt hollow himself. When it comes to the character’s development, he acknowledges that he wasn’t perfect, yet he still has people he cares for and people that he wants to look after. Vlad had developed as a character both on screen, and off the screen.

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Whilst being quite a dark film, there are subtle parts where it allowed the audience to take a breather and laugh for a moment. The CGI was absolutely spectacular when it came scenes with narration and even the unique camera angles.

There are however three issues, which were not major, but nonetheless noteworthy. It could have been brightened up a bit, for it was dark in some sections, which made it difficult to see what was going on. The final fight scene was quite lacklustre, and could have been grander in scale, seeing as the rest of the movie gave off a grand vibe. Another issue was the soundtrack. Ramin Djawadi’s score was very subtle and as such was easily forgettable. Yet the film was engaging enough, making this more of a minor issue.

Dracula Untold had great pacing, and didn’t go the route of leaving you wondering for too long. The ending was satisfying, and tied up neatly, which left me yearning to see more of the characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would go and see it again.

Dracula Untold opens in cinemas in the UK on Friday 3 October 2014.

 

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