These Revisionist Origin Stories Are All The Rage & Dracula Untold Certainly Serves The Genre Well. A Charismatically Commanding Turn From Luke Evans Lifts The Film Which Lends Heavily From Its Big Fantasy Counterparts.
You know what we need, people? Another vampire movie! Yeah! Cause we ain’t had enough yet! Well the brass at Universal have dug out their biggest of the big bads in their stable to bring about a riff on the legend of Vlad The Impaler with Dracula Untold. Directed by newcomer Gary Shore, this entry sees Vlad (Luke Evans) now a Prince and ruler over Transylvania after his bloodthirsty and tragedy strewn youth at the hands of the Turkish Sultan. He now rules with his token wife, young son and with the unanimous adoration of his men. Whilst out scouting, Vlad and his men find a Turkish helmet in the river, hinting that the Turks are set to invade. Following the clues leads them to an ominous cave that is home to an unspeakable evil (read: saggy old Vampire Charles Dance) and when the new Turkish Sultan (Dominic Cooper) demands 1000 Transylvanian sons – Vlad makes a decision.
Forgoing the more horror elements for fantasy and lending heavily from Lord Of The Rings, Dracula Untold’s set pieces are fashioned kinetically. The CGI is pretty good throughout, especially in the batnado sequences and even when I felt I was more in Middle Earth or Game Of Thrones’ Westeros than I was Transylvania the action is punchy enough to keep me engaged. The film does leverage off these two franchises heavily, but it’s done with considerable class and the whole production is handsomely dressed.
Performances fluctuate but it all hinges on Luke Evans and he turns in a charismatic and commanding turn as Vlad. The whole thing hinges on his intensity and internal conflict which he more than delivers on. Dominic Cooper’s Turkish Sultan big bad sounds more like a Russian and probably needed a bit more screen time to really drive his impending menace. Charles Dance relishes his turn as the age old vampire and his best moment, which occurs in an ultimately unnecessary epilogue, is a deliciously cheeky post script.
Dracula Untold is a fun fantasy distraction which cements Luke Evans growing credentials as a leading man and is a lot more entertaining than its genre hook sets out to be.
DRACULA UNTOLD opens TOMORROW in AUSTRALIA through UNIVERSAL PICTURES