Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Let's have some fun with history today, shall we?  As we open on 'Dracula: Untold' we are told the story of young Vlad, prince of the house of Draculesti, and how as a child he was voluntary given to the Turkish Sultan and forced to be become a child soldier for the Turkish army.  That's all true.  The movie didn't bring in Vlad's younger brother who was also given to the Turks, but he was alleged to be much better looking than Vlad and so when Vlad grew up in this movie to look like Luke Evans, we couldn't very well have someone in this movie better looking than him, now could we?  Eventually Vlad comes on back home, assumes rule and even has a war with the Turks.  All that is true too!  Until, of course, Vlad turns into a bloodsucking monster beast.  History class over.  Still, I did not hate this movie and I went into 'Dracula: Untold' fully expecting to.

Life is good in the land Transylvania as Vlad is a kind and gentle monarch, married to the beautiful Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and the two of them have a precocious young son Ingeras (Art Parkinson).  Vlad however knows that trouble is on the horizon when he finds a gashed Turk helmet in a nearby stream.  The Turks must be coming.  Personally, my initial concern would've been less the helmet, but more how the gashes got into that helmet, by then I'm not a monarch, so what do I know?  Somehow Vlad has determined that this helmet originated from a cave in a mountain… don't ask me how he came to that conclusion, but he has, and so it's up to the mountain for him and his men to investigate.  He won't like what he finds.  Still, that thing in the mountain, as bad as it is, it can't leave that cave in the mountain so if you leave it be, no problem.

Then the Turks come a calling for real.  They have determined that they want a thousand Transylvanian boys for the Sultan's army, and that includes Vlad's son.  Vlad can't have that.  And while Vlad is a badass like few badasses have ever been, he doesn't have what it takes to take out the Sultan's massive army.  But what if he had a taste of that power that the beast in the mountain possesses?  This beast (Charles Dance) is more than willing to give Vlad a taste because if things work out his way, he will be free of his curse, passing it along to Vlad.  There are some Gremlin Rules that Vlad would need to adhere to keep this from happening, but until then, he has the power to protect his land.
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Vlad is pretty darned amazed at the awesome powers he now possesses.  Sure there's the insatiable thirst for blood, the fact that silver and sunlight burns his skin off, the unfortunate fact that his own people see him as a spawn of Satan but whatever, he can now protect his people from that jerk of a Sultan (Dominic Cooper).   Besides, if he doesn't feed in three days, all reverts back to normal. 

Alas history tells us, that is if this were true and all, that eventually Vlad must feed on something or the monster we know today as Dracula will not be born, but in between time there are Turks to slaughter and, well, impale.   But that Sultan, man is he troublesome.  Shockingly so.  I mean like… really Dracula?  This one guy is giving you trouble after you've just effortlessly slaughtered thousands of his toughest soldiers?  Anyway, prophecy fulfilled, monster born, eternal love preserved.  Or something like that.

The concern, going into 'Dracula: Reborn', was that we were going to get a silly pseudo horror movie similar to 'I, Frankenstein', but fortunately we got something much better than that.  The movie is still kind of silly, and like that bastardized Frankenstein, this Dracula is more Dark Super Hero than horror legend, but director Gary Shore does a better job merging the action elements with the vampire legend, combined with some nice cinematography and nice special effects, to craft what feels like a much more complete film.  Of course saying something is better than 'I, Frankenstein' is faint praise, but there it is.

Front and center driving the narrative is Luke Evans, and while Mr. Evans might not be the rangiest actor around, he does do pain and intensity very well. You will feel Vlad's strained pain as he makes a litany of increasingly difficult decisions, and with these decisions made, Evans brings his trademark steely glare to sell the audience that Vlad means to see this through to the bitter end.  Charles Dance also brings the creepy with his Nosferatu schtick, giving us glorious recollections of his tour de force performance in 'The Golden Child' thirty years ago… at least I thought it was tour deforce… but that would about do it for the good performances in this movie as Sarah Gadon is beautiful but bland and Dominc Cooper's Sultan was at best under cooked.

But the movie does move, the action is brisk and exciting, Luke Evans brings the intensity and it seemed to have some fun playing with the myth of Dracula.  Now as a bit of an editorial, I had read some dismay about the relatively tame PG-13 rating of this film, with some of us out there thinking you simply cannot have a decent Dracula film without excessive gore and boobs.  I just want to throw out there that Bela Lugosi and those guys did okay within those limitations, so it can be done.  But if you absolutely need to see gore and boobs in your Dracula movie, then by all means, watch Dario Argento's 'Dracula 3D'.  I double dog dare you. 
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