Cinematic Releases: Dracula Untold

Blood thirsty Dracula fans will rejoice at this new prequel.

"I'm sorry honey. But, I have
to suckle."
It's been a long time since we've seen a good Dracula movie hit theaters. Most current renditions of the story have been cheap, uninspired pieces of lower grade cinema that just want to cash in on the good name of the Prince of Darkness. Well, Dracula Untold is the exact opposite. This is a fresh version that will take creature buffs through the sordid back story of one of the world's most famous yet misunderstood villains. This is Dracula Begins with excellent visual design, a skilled lead actor, and almost perfect pacing. 

Dracula has been played by dozens of actors over the years. Some have been great and some have upped the cheese factor. In Untold, we get an inspired Luke Evans doing a bang up job presenting the duality of Vlad's existence. Evans knows exactly how to capture the human side of the character but also knows the purpose behind the creature's existence and plays it so with ferocity and a fervor not felt since Gary Oldman played him in the nineties. You can taste his desire for vengeance and blood but can also feel his human side seeping through, even when he's in the throes of devouring those that seek to destroy him. This is an inspired version of the character and is totally in line with how the character was originally written. 

On the other side of the coin, we have a struggling Dominic Cooper that never gets his due. Why have such a proficient young actor go to waste like this? He's meant to be Dracula's arch enemy but doesn't get much screen time and definitely not enough back story. At a running time of merely ninety minutes, this is one area that should have been expanded on, giving audiences a real reason to despise this human version of evil incarnate. Cooper doesn't fail any time he's on screen, but should have been given more scenes to chew on and definitely deserved more than the few lines of dialogue he's given. The hatred between the two characters is palpable, yet not fleshed out enough. 15-20 more minutes definitely could have helped. 

"Eat your heart out, Gary Oldman.
My armor is so much cooler."
Dracula Untold looked like another Van Helsing or I, Frankenstein disaster from the previews. It's not. This is a relatively interesting story arc that transcends the usual lot of modern monster movies. We get to see the evolution of a classic character that doesn't pander to its audience with cliches or things we knew before. This is a fully realized prequel that establishes the roots of Dracula and moves the story forward to a dark period where he will become the vampire that's inhabited cinemas for decades. 

The plot is simple to follow but well written, the visuals are high quality, and it only feels like a video game a couple times. And when it does follow that path into the zone of next gen gaming, it looks totally rad with top tier rendering and detail. If you're looking for a good time at the theater during the month of Halloween, check this one out. It's leaps and bounds better than that Annabelle flick.