What I find enjoyable about this flick is that Dracula is not really a villain per se. He comes across more as a sympathetic character and you see that he does this out of sacrifice for family, love and duty as opposed to the 1992 movie starring Gary Oldman where he does it for love as well but his becoming a Vampire is more motivated by revenge.
Luke Evans is very likable as Vlad Tepes and you see the emotional journey he goes on to become the Vampire of Vampires and you feel his pain and changes every step of the way after accepting his new gifts/curse from the Master Vampire played by the remarkable Charles Dance.
The only other notable cast member is Dominic Cooper as the Sultan who is completely unrecognisable as he not only transforms himself physically, but even in his voice where he sports a Turkish accent.
Visually it's an amazing piece when you see Vlad transform into a swarm of bats that engulfs the valley leading up to the Monastery that he and his family take refuge.
That's what I like about this movie is that it tries to be it's own identity and not repeat what several other movies have done in the past.
As to why this is being touted as the start of a cinematic universe for Universal's monster movies I don't know.
But that said, I am open to the idea of how that would work.