Monday, October 13, 2014

Dracula Untold: I Weep For Universal's Monster Project

Dracula Untold is supposed to be the beginning of a new line of Universal Monster movies. I say "supposed to" because this flick destroys all confidence I had in anything of quality coming out of that stream.
Dracula Untold tries to tell the story of Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans) after his years at war. He comes home and soon learns that Mehmed (Dominic Cooper), his emperor wishes to force all of the young boys of his country to join his army. Well that ain't cool. So Vlad seeks out a power that will help him to take on an army that is far too massive for his own meager forces.
This movie's biggest issues come out of a lack of pacing and purpose. If this is truly to be an origin story it needs to start earlier to get us involved in the world. I would love a sprawling Vlad the Impaler war epic that returns back home for its third act... But studios don't know how to make that kind of movie anymore because they're too invested in common tropes. The kind they think get larger appeal from audiences, but really just dumb down movies until they become rather easily forgotten in the annuls of history. Dracula Untold eschews a meaningful first act thus forcing onto us several annoyingly useless plot points that could have been avoided had the film not been in serious jeopardy of coming in under its necessary run-time. 92 minutes for an epic Dracula origin story? Are you kidding me??
This flick does however host a number of very bright up and coming actors. Luke Evans is a really solid choice for the role of Dracula and does his damnedest to make this script sound somewhat meaningful. Likewise, Sarah Gadon has been proving herself of late. Her performance in Belle earlier this year definitely outshines this outing, but she still affords the role of Mirena far more quality than the script deserves. The greatest disappointment here is Dominic Cooper. I have enjoyed him in one or two films, but this cheeky Mehmed comes across as meh as the character's name. Easily one of his most forgettable roles to date. I like Charles Dance, and for a moment he pulled this movie away from its more tedious segments almost proving there is life after Game of Thrones...
But the ending left my jaw on the floor. That Universal thought this conclusion made any sort of sense or was at all good enough to start a massive serialized franchise bewilders me to no end. Dracula Untold is a failed experiment. It's abominable that a studio intends to make more productions of lacking quality like this or could ever set out to make something of this mediocre quality in the first place. Long gone are the days of David Lean, and with them, that epic quality that used to make films of an older world great. I'd love to see a Vlad the Impaler movie in the epic style of Lawrence of Arabia. I'd love to see that much effort put into the production. But this crap will not sate my appetite for good movies. It won't even come close.

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