First off, for full disclosure, the title sounds really negative of the film, but to be honest I really just wanted to work that pun in somehow, so yeah, sorry I guess (who am I kidding, I'm not sorry at all)
Also, I know this movie isn't out in the US, but it is in the UK, so yeah, that's how I've sen it already.
*Ahem* so anyway, the film:
Very mild spoilers follow, so if you have avoided all trailers and want to know absolutely nothing about the film then you should probably stop reading
The story of the film is one that you can probably tell the whole of just from watching the trailer. That doesn't mean it's bad, it just means that it's all in the trailer, which bugs me. Still, it's one with a lot of potential, giving a fresh view on the mythos of Dracula, which I'm all for. The base idea is that legendary warrior Vlad Tepes, the Prince of Transylvania (I think, it's never clear) has to make a choice of whether or not to give up 1000 of his kingdom's children, including his own son, to the Turkish Sultan whom they pay tribute to in return for peace. It's a choice that the film makes out to be a big deal, and rightly so, it's the kind that you would spend hours weighing up if it came your way and gives a lot of potential for Vlad's character. Unfortunately, it's all over too fast and it happens too early on in the film to give us a chance at caring. However, after he decides on war (no, that's not a spoiler it happens like 20 mins in and is in the trailer) he realises he can't fight off the whole Turkish army, so goes to a vampire to try and inherit it's superpowers. Then he gets given the choice to take the powers for three days to defend his family and home, but if he tastes human flesh he'll be condemned to being a vampire permanently.
It's another interesting choice, because if he drinks human blood, it sets the vampire free onto the world to plague humanity for all time. It's also one that gives us what I would deem the best scene in the film, where Vlad weighs up on the spot whether or not it's worth it while the vampire freaks him out and talks about how he'll have some fun with humanity if he gets free. Everyone and their mother knows what Vlad is going to do, but it still makes for a damn well done scene. From hereon in, without giving anything away, it sadly gets more generic, basically turning into a bloodbath.
Vlad (Dracula) - I actually very much liked Luke Evans in the role. I completely bought him as the tragic anti-hero and he managed to elevate the role above the hundreds of other attempts at the kind character in other films. His screenplay isn't great though, but to the guy's credit, he makes the most out of it. Yes he comes across a little wooden at times, but overall he does a good job here and really conveys this guy as a badass.
Mirena - Vlad's wife, whom I haven't mentioned in the whole plot section. Because she's there for one reason, one reason that those who saw the 1992 Dracula will know. She could really just be classed as "the protaganists wife" and you pretty much get her role instantly. Always do the motherly thing, help antagonist, be damsel in distress. She makes a contribution at the end that could have been a great beat but she's not developed enough for us to get invested, which takes away from Vlad's role, as most of his motivation is basically founded in 'family'.
Ingeras - Vlad's son. The child actor wasn't annoying, but that's partially because he hardly ever does anything. At all. So I never cared about him. So he has pretty much the exact same problem as Mirena in that he's "the son".
The Vampire - Well done. Not in it much, but he feels nicely sinister when he is. Not much more needs to be said, credit to the director and visual team on this one
Everyone Else - I'm putting them all under one heading because I've forgotten their names. The villain is... well, there I guess, and not doing much except asking for kids to train for his army and also to provide an anti-climactic boss fight. Vlad's friends are all the same, with little to no personality and the rest of the world is made up of people that I don't feel are worth mentioning.
This really bugged me. The first big battle is between Vlad (with powers) and a thousand turks. It's given a really great build up, with Luke Evans giving us a really nice swagger and the director beatifully constructing this one man against the world feel. And then I don't know what happened because of shaky-cam. Now, I don't normally complain about shaky-cam because while it's overused, I find that I normally don't particularly notice it, but here, I noticed it. And it sucked. Still, towards the end we get some fun (but woefully unrealistic) play with bats as weapons of mass destruction and a bit of nice blood-sucking vampire murdering. So there's some fun to be had, but not until the third act.
'Dracula Untold' is a few tweaks off of being a good character based origin story for Dracula, and a few tweaks in the other direction off of being a fun hyper-powered action flick. So while there's a good amount to like, and it's never boring, there's too many flaws for it to be worth paying much to see although if you see it on Netflix or something it's definitely worth a look. I've heard that it's to be the start of a new shared monster universe, and while I can't see how that would work, there's enough elements of this origin that work to convince me that the talent is here to make a good franchise, so while this film isn't very good as a whole, colour me cautiously optimistic for that.
So what did you guys think of 'Dracula Untold'? Think there was anything I missed? Feel free to let us know in the comments if so. But until next time, enjoy your lives guys!