[WARNING: May contain spoilers. And traces of nuts.]
2014, Universal Studios
It might’ve been 84 degrees outside but that wasn’t going to stop me from my celebration of Halloween and the fall season by going to see Dracula Untold today and then washing it down with some hot chocolate from Starbucks.
Going in, I expected this to be a decent movie but I was blown away by how awesome it was. Screw the critics; they hate everything — Dracula Untold is extremely enjoyable. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best of any of Universal’s recent attempts at remaking their classic monsters (The Mummy series starring Brendan Fraser, Van Helsing, The Wolfman). The PG-13 rating doesn’t hold back the gore at all. You can get away with so much these days with just a PG-13 rating and this movie delivers quite a few gory and bloody moments while delivering tons of action.
It’s also a tragic story as it features Vlad Tepes doing whatever it takes to save his family and his kingdom. That’s what make this movie so cool because it isn’t yet another version of Bram Stoker’s novel. It isn’t trying to reimagine the 1931 Bela Lugosi movie. This the origin of Dracula. As such, it isn’t a full-blown horror movie. It doesn’t feature the gothic vibe that the classic novel and films are known for. This is a horror action-fantasy.
While the movie is far from accurate with their depiction, it does tie together a few characters from history. Obviously, there’s Vlad III (AKA – Vlad Dracul; AKA – Vlad Tepes; AKA – Vlad the Impaler), but also Mehmed (AKA – Medmed the Conqueror) and Caligula. Yes, Caligula figures into this. Seems that the depraved Roman emperor ended up being cursed, turned into a monster and was banished to live in a cave for eternity somewhere in Transylvania. He is the world’s first vampire. It is by making a deal with Caligula that Vlad becomes a vampire with the understanding that someday Caligula will call upon Vlad’s services to help him exact his revenge against those who cursed him. I smell sequel.
The movie makes a real attempt at humanizing Dracula and I think they succeeded. I also think Luke Evans was a good choice to play Dracula. I’m hoping the movie does well enough that we’ll get a direct sequel. There’s also a lot riding on this one because this is the first movie as a part of the Universal Monster reboot. Universal has plans to follow the Marvel movie blueprint and reintroduce their monsters as sharing a universe and making cameos in each others movies. I hope that’s something we’ll get to see. I want to see a good ol’ monster mash again like what we got from Universal in the mid-1940s with House of Dracula & House of Frankenstein. Van Helsing threw some of the studio’s classic monsters together as well but it could be done so much better.
This is definitely a film that fans of Dracula and classic horror will want to see and it should please fantasy film fans as well.