Dracula Untold (2014) – Review

To paraphrase the charming Luke Evans, we were promised of Dracula Untold “a story of love, war and adventure told in a way that’s never been seen before on the big screen”.  I think, just perhaps, it has.  But that’s okay.  We never really believed it in the first place.  The title itself hearkens to a similar promise, but is this really the “untold” story of Dracula or just a marketing ploy to put bums on seats?  As far as Dracula’s concerned, maybe there is an element of untoldness about it.  But for audiences gorged on years of superhero movies, there isn’t one thing we haven’t seen before.

The irony of the title becomes apparent when the film refuses to play out much like a Dracula film at all – because it isn’t – and instead show its true colours as a superhero origin story with a good vs evil narrative, where silver acts as kryptonite.  Vlad’s (Evans) transformation into a ghoul of the night is a bit Bruce Wayne emerging from the well, a bit Superman learning he can fly, a bit Captain America discovering his strength.  As he uses his powers to protect the innocent, he soon realises that with great power comes great responsibility and no matter how strong he is, he can’t save everything he loves.  None of this is problematic in how effective the film is, it just makes us question what film we’re actually watching.

Some of the battle sequences are kind of fun, and there’s joyously nasty performance from Dominic Cooper as the evil Sultan.  If there’s a word to sum the whole experience up it would be “fine”.  Filling up 90 minutes perfectly efficiently, being a bit silly, a bit fun, a bit clunky, a bit of everything along the way while never really affording itself the time to make any sense, Dracula Untold is an unspectacular but innocent beast.  Because it rushes along so quickly, nothing quite adds up, yet it neither slows down enough for us to bother questioning it.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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