Dracula Untold is Universal Studios’ attempt at rebooting their repertoire of monsters including Frankenstein and the Wolfman. The movie is the origin story of the iconic vampire and prince of Transylvania, Dracula (Luke Evans, Fast and Furious 6).
After disputes with the Turkish Empire, he decides to go to war, but knows he has no real army to counter the Turkish threat. He seeks to obtain the powers of a vampire in order to win the war to protect his family and his people.
Evans gives a nearly perfect performance. With the movie being centered on Dracula’s internal struggle between what he wants to do and what he needs to do, it is important that the actor can portray those types of emotions fluidly yet subtly.
In comparison, the rest of the actors in the movie are okay at best. Sarah Gadon, playing Dracula’s wife, gives a subpar performance, and the unsatisfactory co-stars are only forgivable since the story is focused solely on Dracula.
Despite the flaws found in the cast, the visual effects are done very nicely. They convey just how supernaturally powerful Dracula is, without being too over-the-top. The director also utilizes natural, expansive landscapes to give the film a grand feeling.
While visual effects add important dynamics to the movie, there are moments when the director seems to shoot and miss. At times, certain scenes lean towards a fake look, but like the side characters, such errors are forgivable as they are not intrinsic to the overall tone of the film.
Fans of the original book will like the references to Dracula’s real historic past. Dracula means “son of the dragon,” and Evan’s character’s name is Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler. All of these references are mentioned in the movie and are taken directly from the book. Dracula’s powers are also mostly well-represented in the movie; despite certain creative freedoms, anyone who has read the original book will see that they reflect those found in the original.
However, the movie suffers from a number of flaws, story-wise. There are a number of plot conveniences thrown in throughout the film that may bother some people depending on their tolerance levels. And though certain audience members may enjoy the final scene, the ending ultimately does not make any logical sense.
Furthermore, the movie does not do a good job showing how the main character becomes the Dracula everyone knows from the story.
The evolution of the character would not be so bad, if he was not Dracula. Since this is a character most viewers know well, the story falls short of audience expectations by not taking advantage of the tragic story the movie was leading up to in the first half.
Dracula becomes a vampire, but we never see him become the evil man everyone knows from the original book. This is a shame since the first half has such great buildup.
Overall, the movie is enjoyable, but its lackluster second half coupled with useless side characters will sour the film for many moviegoers. The decent acting, effects and first half somewhat make up for it, but these positives will not guarantee overall audience approval. In the end, though, Dracula Untold is a fun ride and a good Halloween-related movie for the season.