Dracula: Untold (2014)

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run time: 92 mins
rated: 14A
considered: Action, Drama, Fantasy
director: Gary Shore
starring: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance, Diarmaid Murtagh, Paul Kaye, William Houston, Noah Huntley, Ronan Vibert, Zach McGowan, Ferdinand Kingsley, Joseph Long, Thor Kristjansson, Jakub Gierszal

movie summary: In a far away land, many centuries ago, there was a king named Vlad (Luke Evans) who ruled over a beautiful kingdom. Through out his rule he has fought for peace and prosperity. He only wants to protect his family and his people while making sure they have the very best to live a wonderful life. Everything is going well for him and his people until a Turkish Prince named Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) comes calling for shillings and demands that Vlad supply his kingdom with 1,000 young men and boys to help build his army to take over the world. Vlad and his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) go to great lengths to protect their little boy Ingeras (Art Parkinson) but Mehmed threatens to tear down the whole kingdom if Vlad doesn’t comply.

In an attempt to protect his world, Vlad meets with Mehmed at his castle only to be played a fool. Mehmed makes him sign a treaty in blood giving him all the boys in his kingdom, on top of sacrificing himself as his new military leader. Mehmed feels that Vlad will die on the battlefield and he will raise his son like he was his own. Mirena flips out when she learns the news that her husband and son will be gone, possibility forever, so Vlad decides to turn his back on Mehmed’s men and get back to his kingdom to prepare for war.

When Vlad realizes his kingdom is outnumbered by the thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, he decides the only way to save everything he loves is to go on a journey. He climbs up the forbidden mountain and into the caves that go deep into the earth. Inside those caves is the ruler of the dark world, the one soul on earth that has the power to help him fight. Vlad meets with the king of the dead and offers himself up for sacrifice to gain the powers of the dark world to help aid in the battle against Mehmed. The dark ruler warns that his powers will make him the strongest human being in the world, but he must resist the urge for blood for three days or be stuck in the dark world for eternity.

Vlad drinks his blood to inherit his new dark powers. He returns home to help his men fight by flying onto the battle field and slaughtering thousands of Mehmed’s men all by himself. When word gets back to the Turkish leader, Vlad knows he must move his people up to a chapel on a distance mountain to protect them from the army Mehmed will return with. As the people from the kingdom reach the mountain top, hundreds of miles away they can see the fire torches of Medmed’s army approaching. Sensing that scouts are present among his own people, Vlad acts swiftly to eliminate them thus reviling his dark powers. His own people turn on his when they realize he is not who he used to be.

As the sun rises on the third day, Mehmed’s army is only a handful miles away now. Vlad must act swiftly to defeat as many people as he can before he loses his powers forever and his kingdom fails to Mehmed.

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my thoughts: This may surprise some of you but I don’t know the true story behind Dracula. I’ve never seen Gary Oldman in Dracula from 1992 or any other movie featuring the blood sucker. I’ve only seen movies where he’s always just been himself, the bad guy looking for someone to sink his teeth into. Not having this knowledge allowed me to go into Dracula: Untold with an open mind and enjoy it without looking for something to compare it to.

Despite only being 92 mins long, Dracula: Untold is filled with non-stop action and great special effects on the battle field. Luke Evan’s character is just a solider one second and then a cloud of bats as he flies across the battle wiping out hundreds of men with a single blow. Some people will complain that the effects take away from the story and that it is really hard to see what is going on but I don’t feel that way. When he’s in bat mode he’s suppose to be lightning fast so you will not comprehend what is going on. It’s that quickness that strikes fear into his opponents and drop their guard while bodies around them suddenly die.

The Dracula character has been feared for centuries both in real life and on the big screen. Evans does a great job here showing the struggles Vlad went through in his transformation from good guy to bad guy. It was extremely painful to drink the blood of the ruler of the dark world and undergo such a powerful transformation. He must resist his beautiful wife’s neckline or any wounded soldiers bleeding out on the battle field because one drop of blood and he will be cast into the shadows forever. His act of heroism is rejected because nothing good ever comes from the dark side, kinda like Carmine Falcone once said in Batman Begins, “This is a world you’ll never understand. And you always fear what you don’t understand.” Most people are willing to die than be protected by their king who took his own life to protect theirs. Not only does Vlad struggle with his own internal issues but he spends most of the movie protecting himself from the people he’s trying to protect.

Dominic Cooper is good as the bad guy who just thirsts for more power. He has a one track mind that will may cost in the end on his quest for more power and land. Sarah Gadon is great in the role of Vlad’s wife, she is warm, loving, and accepting. When she learns of what her husband does, she is willing to go to great lengths to protect him, even if it means her own life. I thought that together with Evans, they made a great on-screen couple, the kind of couple that you get behind and cheer for until the bitter end. Like most drama movies, sacrifices have to be made so some people can live happily ever, while others never get the chance.

The only other thing I want to point out is how excited I would be for a sequel to this movie. Numerous events take place at the end of the battles and the movie which may lead to a potential present day reigniting of the ever on going epic story of Dracula.

my final thoughts: I’d be the first to admit Dracula: Untold is not worth the full price of a ticket in AVX or IMAX, but is actually worth the price of general admission. If you like quick, fast paced battle movies that focuses on the story as the body count rises, then you’d be happy with this movie. Anyone tired of Dracula stories and hate how they came up with another movie to retell the same old story, stay at home and watch this someday on VOD or Netflix. I on the other hand, may actually pick a copy of this movie up when it gets released next year.

my star rating: 7 out 10

imdb: 6.1 out 10 
metascore: 40/100
rottentomatoes: 23% out 100%
rogerebert: 2.5 out 4

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