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Dracula Untold - A Movie Review

A film review of the film Dracula Untold, starring Luke Evans as Vlad the Impaler. It is the story of the rise of Dracula, when he first began as the infamous Prince Vlad III, or Vlad the Impaler, as legend goes.

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How Dracula Came to Be

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Let me preface this by saying I'm biased. I love all things vampire-related (except Twilight, b/c that shit doesn't even really count). I am talking about the Stephen King's Salem's Lot vampires, or straight up sexy vampires from Anne Rice's Interview with a Vampire.

So, someone asked if I wanted to see the new movie about Dracula. Vampires? A hot guy playing a vampire? A movie about the most infamous vampire ever in history?

I'm in.

I also will admit I had very low expectations going in, since I have been burned before (ahem) 2004's Van Helsing... Still don't know wtf Hugh Jackman was thinking with that one. And also, just countless terrible movies with vampires and movie monsters that are so full of CGI, they don't think plots are necessary.

But, this movie is based (loosely) on the real-life Vlad the Impaler, whom Bram Stoker actually used as the inspiration to write his novel Dracula. So, at the very least, there would be some plot, and I was very interested to see how they would weave history and folklore together.

I was pleasantly surprised that the movie did not just consist of terrible CGI amiss long-drawn out action sequences. It actually starts out showing Prince Vlad, trying to keep peace with the Turks who apparently terrorized everyone back then (as told to me by my Greek friend who came with me). It paints him as a sympathetic family man who wants to leave his infamous past as a bloodthirsty warrior behind, but is forced to make drastic choices to fight the Turks. He discovers a way to become a monster that armies will fear and protect his people, but becomes something that people need protection from.

The script might not win an Oscar, but it was enough to feel for these characters and what their struggles were. So, when the action scenes happened, you felt like they had impact and were not there to "look cool". It was also interesting to learn some things, like Dracula means "Son of the Dragon", not "Son of the Devil", and the Turks just tried to take over everything. I thought the filmmakers did a good job in portraying life back then, and the superstitions people held against what they considered evil.

The movie kept me entertained the whole time, and did not overdo it on the special effects, but had some pretty cool ones. I liked how the vampires looked, and Vlad's evolution into his vampire self. It really shows his struggle to retain his humanity and all that he cares about. I do not want to give away too many details, but it was interesting how he came to be his vampire self. I am always curious how filmmakers are going to show the "transformation" into a vampire. Is it fast, is it slow? Does the person look the same afterwards, except with fangs? I loved the "bat trick" that the filmmaker uses in the film, a cool special effect that shows Dracula's progression into becoming a monster.

Obviously, the movie paints Vlad the Impaler in a sympathetic light as a protagonist, which is a big stretch from the truth. The read Vlad was quite bloodthirsty and enjoyed it thoroughly, as you can read how he tortured people here.

My favorite part of the movie was the end. I was more intrigued in the last five minutes than the whole movie. I was so pissed it had to end, but I hoped there is a sequel, because it set up one so well for it. So, I think there is a lot of potential for this film to become a successful series.

Overall, I liked it. It was coherent, had good acting, was interesting and historical (to an extent), and had vampires. I think the impression I got from the commercials was that it would be a fast-paced-action-filled adrenaline rush with terrible looking vampires, which is what I am used to. But this film was actually good. It understood what it wanted to convey and it did it successfully.

*** stars out of Four

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