A new version of the old Dracula story. This time poor, little Vlad Tepes is presented as a seriously good chap — ‘saccharine-sweet, goody-two-shoes, cuddly-kittens-in-a-basket’ good. He is relatively handsome, he is a family man, he loves his wife and adores his little son. Can you ask for more? Sure. The darkness, being so photogenic, sexy and, well, dark, must be preserved so he murders a lot of people all the same with the blessing of Hollywood of course. Not his fault, right? He was being FORCED.
Now the official version of the plot:
In 15th-century Transylvania. Vlad III (Luke Evans), prince of Wallachia, is known as a just ruler. With his beloved wife, Mirena (Sarah Gadon), Vlad has brokered a prolonged period of peace and ensured that his people are protected, especially from the Ottoman Empire. However, when Sultan Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) demands 1,000 of the country’s boys, including Vlad’s son, for his army, Vlad makes a deal with a monster that will enable him to defeat the Turks — but cost him his humanity.
This movie was pathetic. I watched it and all the worst Hollywood clichés were parading before my eyes. It wasn’t a cheerful parade, nuh-huh. Yeah, rather pathetic, as I said before.
First of all Vlad Dracula was turned into a nice, caring family man albeit with a dark, dark past. A past which was constructed with at least three major offences against history and logic but let’s leave history in peace for a moment or two – I’ll return to it soonish and it won’t be pretty.
So. Dracula. A family man who wants to defend his son, his compatriots and wife against ugly Turks and live in peace happily ever after. It would be all very nice if only the director didn’t tiptoe around the religion issue so persistently. 15th century Turks were Muslims, right? Well, you would never guess that much while watching this movie because the M word never is pronounced by anybody on screen.
In fact this flick was similar to a Disney fairy tale and close connected to Maleficent I trashed reviewed not so long ago. Mind you Maleficent was a completely fictional character so it was far easier to accept a new version of her story. Vlad III Tepes on the other hand was a complex man and a historical ruler of Wallachia whose difficult life deserves MUCH MORE than a vampire-themed fairy tale. Really, it does.
Anyway, let me return to Dracula Untold and tell you why I hated it. If I have to be concise and put all my reasons in one sentence I would say something like this: there were too many silly scenes instead of some sense and logic. Examples? Dracula defeating one thousand enemy soldiers completely on his own, practically bare-handed. Dracula calling the sultan Mehmed II ‘brother’ even though he despised all things Turkish. By the way when did they meet exactly and befriend, the sultan and our hero? After school in a pub? *snort*
Dracula failing to satisfy his wife in bed (well, that one was kind of logical at least but it was also silly). Dracula turning his followers into vampires without informing them about the physical and metaphysical problems that status might entail. Monks keeping all the kinky books about vampires, illustrated with Leonardo DaVinci–like sketches showing their inner organs (vampires’ inner organs of course, not monks’) and all that jazz. Who was brave enough to dissect a vamp, I pray? Who could draw such detailed sketches? Dracula meeting the love of his life again in the future (*rolleye*, hasn’t it been done to death already? Literally to death?)
Finally let me deal with the non-exitent historicity of the movie. I know, I am a bit silly, including such an argument. Words ‘historical accuracy’ and ‘Dracula Untold’ should never ever be put in the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence unless it involves a lot of negations and expletives. The movie was about as historical as Cinderella or Disneyland castles. Still, please indulge me, it will be short. The most ridiculous lapse? I admit I am a bit spoiled for choice but I suppose the pathetic mixing up the status of high-born hostages kept by sultans so their princely daddies behave and peasant boys kidnapped and sold as slave soldiers or janissaries left me gagging the most. Fortunately I had a glass of wine nearby.
I know plenty of people have praised this silly romp masquerading as a vampire movie but I haven’t found anything to recommend it for. Dracula Untold? What about Dracula Bowdlerized? I don’t expect much from Hollywood productions nowadays but it doesn’t mean I am becoming soft and lenient when I review them. If it only this one was funny and intelligent, following the great example set by Francis Ford Coppola. If – two letters but a world of difference.