When your film gets slammed by both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety, two media vehicles that quite literally exist to promote Hollywood films, you know you have a problem, Houston. Dracula Untold promised quite a bit with its decent trailer; unfortunately, the trailer was the only highlight of the whole endeavor. Enjoy these fleeting minutes then brace yourself for my 5 dreadful things after the break:
1) Was this absolutely necessary? Hell no, no one asked for yet another Dracula origin story, but Universal teed one up anyway. Here’s Frank Scheck from The Hollywood Reporter:
Universal Pictures is clearly hoping to resurrect a character with whom they’ve been in business for some 83 years, but this fantasy-feeling effort delivers little in the way of scares, relying mainly on the charismatic presence of Welsh actor Luke Evans (Fast and Furious 6) to anchor the lackadaisical proceedings.
2) It’s a snoozer. There, I said it. Actually, Scott Foundas says it better in Variety:
…even at a mere 85 minutes (sans credits) it’s something of a bore — neither scary nor romantic nor exciting in any of the ways it seems to intend.
I went to see this film after a long day and on a full stomach… bad move for a bad movie. I didn’t exactly fall asleep during it, but I will admit there were long moments during the big action set pieces where my mind would wander to thoughts other than what was taking place on the screen. How is it possible to make an epic battle scene boring?
3) Not a single scare. That’s absolutely death for a movie meant to draw in the Halloween box office. Heck, even the intentionally campy Van Helsing (2004) had more creep out moments than this supposedly serious take on the Dracula legend. (Van Helsing did a better job of explaining the origin, too. Damn.)
4) Underwhelming action. What you saw in the trailer was pretty much the best of it all. When Vlad does the one-man-army thing to save his village, running through the opposition like a Spartan from 300 (2006), all you could think was, “Damn, that’s pretty weak.” You sit there in the theater waiting for this thing to take off, and suddenly… end credits. Arrgh.
5) The “story”, as it were. So the Terrible Turks want little boys for their army (?). Oh, won’t someone save the children?! Hey, I’ve got an idea: how about I become an undead monster who feeds on human blood… that’ll show them Turkeys! All I have to do is not actually feed on human blood and I’ll transform back to normal no problem. What could go wrong? Screenplay FAIL by first-time co-writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless I thought the studios had teams of development people to prevent this sort of thing from happening. And the absolute nerve of them for writing an ending that suggests a sequel.
So maybe that’s it. Just blame it on the newbie writers. But blame must also be levied against another newbie, director Gary Shore, whose career in directing high-end commercials somehow helped land him a reported three-picture deal at Universal. Here’s hoping we see better out of Shore, but for now, he’s looking a heckuva lot like a hack to me. What do you think?
Here are some Amazon Instant Video links to some FAR better Dracula/vampire movies: