‘Dracula Untold’ leaves thirst for blood unquenched


Universal Studios

Dracula Untold movie poster

Official trailer

By Izzy Peterson, Linganore HS, Frederick, Md.

Released in theaters on Oct. 10, “Dracula Untold” pledged to enthrall and fascinate its audience with the historical and fictional mash-up of Vlad the Impaler and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. While it wasn’t a terrible film, cheesy acting and iffy plot holes left me unsatisfied and craving something more.

One highlight of the film is actor Luke Evans, who plays the lead, Vlad Tepes, a Slavic prince who has to fight against a Turkish overlord in order to save his family. Being a fan of Evans, I may be a bit partial. His acting in Dracula Untold is certainly not his best and far from Oscar-winning, but, compared to everything else in this disappointing film, it’s golden. Evans did as much as he could with the sub-par material he was given and for that, I give him credit. His bold looks are perfect in the film and, combined with his mesmerizing voice and British accent, serve as the perfect mix for a Gothic anti-hero.

Luke Evans did as much as he could with the sub-par material he was given and for that, I give him credit.”

Along with an engaging lead actor, the writers of “Dracula Untold” were inspired when they enriched their plot line with Vlad’s neat back story. He was once enslaved in Turkey and lived a terrible existence under the control of the main villain’s predecessor — one he wishes his family never to endure. The way the history of the Ottoman Empire is entwined with the plot is enjoyable. This, along with detailed costumes, awesomely realistic CGI bats, and scenic cinematic shots, guarantees those with an artist’s eye a pleasing visual experience.

The first few scenes of the film are by far the best. In one, Mehmed, the Turkish ruler played by Dominic Cooper, decrees that all boys old and fit enough must serve under him as slaves or soldiers. In response, Vlad ventures out to find an ancient vampire (played by Charles Dance) that may be able to help him save his son and the rest of the boys in danger of suffering this torture. It inspires a sense of excitement and danger, pumping the audience for the rest of the movie.

The exchange between Vlad and this creature offers the only suspenseful, scary moment in the entire film. Both Evans and Dance perform their best in these first minutes and set a false precedent for the rest of the film. Much to my dismay, Dance’s character is only a bit part and seems to be a wasted opportunity for something more. After seeing these two characters interact, I was excited and thought that the rest of the film would offer the same thrilling experience. I was mistaken.

The rest of the movie was filled with terrible acting and uninteresting characters. For instance, Vlad has a wife and son in the movie – both of whom are dull and colorless characters. If I were Vlad Tepes, I would have abandoned them to Mehmed and escaped vampire-free without any regrets. Whenever Vlad interacts with his subjects, the extras present exaggerated, ridiculous expressions. Also, as much as I like Dominic Cooper in other movies, I despise his role, Mehmed. Sure, he’s the villain and people watching the movie are not supposed to like him, but he’s laughable. His Turkish accent is just as ridiculous as his character and he’s pompous and annoying, not intimidating. If he is supposed to inspire fear and a sense of risk in a PG-13 film, he should not give off the vibe of a Disney character.

Accompanying this lame acting, there was no development of Vlad learning how to control his supernatural abilities. Instead, Vlad immediately knows how to turn into a horde of bats and use his strength and speed effectively. I know that if I myself became a vampire, I would probably need a period of time to become adept at using my powers. Going from ordinary human being to living-dead monster would send anyone into a loop (well, apparently, anyone but Vlad Tepes).

Vlad’s lack of experience aside, the writers were feeling inspired when dealing with the origin of his vampiric strength. When the old vampire gives Vlad his powers, he tells him that they will last for only three days unless he happens to drink blood in the meantime, at which point he will be stuck as a vampire for eternity. If he can go these 72 hours without giving into temptation, he will come out on the other side as a human. This Persephone-esque twist adds a slight thrill aspect to the film, as it is inevitable that Vlad will become a vampire (hence the title Dracula Untold).

Overall, the story itself serves as a fun origin story even though the acting and characters supporting it are sub-par. I recommend Dracula Untold for those too old to trick-or-treat this Halloween; it’s an entertaining experience if you ignore its imperfections.

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