Gary Shore‘s Dracula Untold is Universal’s soft reboot of one of their many classic monsters. The studio has openly discussed their ideas to reboot all of their beloved monsters in hopes of them catching on once more and then perhaps mashing them together The Avengers style. Dracula Untold is their first of the reboots and their most tame monster movie yet, starring Luke Evans as the titular character. Dracula Untold isn’t exactly a bad movie, but it’s definitely on the soft side, settling for a bland rebirth that leans more on the side of action versus actual horror. As is, Dracula Untold is an alright film if you’re in the mood for an action-oriented origins story detailing the rise of the most famous vampire ever.
Vlad (Luke Evans) is a peaceful man that was once a man of war. He’s settled down now and is trying his hardest to rid himself of his past life in hopes of being recognized as a family man and a fine prince to his people. But peace never lasts and war comes to his doorsteps, leaving him no choice but to turn to the darkness in hopes of using ancient supernatural forces to help drive his enemies away and protect his people.
This new power comes at a heavy price and Vlad agrees to it and becomes a blood-sucking monster unlike anything before him, thus creating Dracula — the most known vampire of all-time.
Gary Shore‘s Dracula Untold is almost exactly what you’d expect if someone told you that Universal was rebooting their Dracula property and gearing it towards the PG-13 action audiences. It’s not the worst thing to ever happen to the character or the property, but it’s also not the most refreshing and exciting reboot to hit the streets. Sure, it’ll do just fine up against the likes of Twilight, but with vampires getting pumped into circulation so much, one would’ve thought that Universal would have settled for something a little more bold or at least more traditional, but with an edge.
Dracula Untold is rather dull, featuring only one real strong point — star Luke Evans. Evans brings a certain amount of bravado and charm to the character that most men don’t. He’s incredibly likable and helps make sympathizing for his character and his situation rather easy. He doesn’t exactly elevate the material past unbelievable points, but he does a fine job sticking out with his performance and breathing a little (and I mean little) life into such a classic character.
The rest of the film’s faults rest on its direction and writing, both of which lack any sort of kick to really spice things up. The film looks fine and feels very classic and old-school, which is sort of a refreshing thing when coming from Universal, but it also feels like a lifeless reboot of the character. It’s almost like they’re bringing back Dracula (and maybe more classic monsters) just for the sake of financial gain and not because they feel like now is the right time or that someone really creative has something to expand upon their already-established universe with.
Gary Shore shoots the film like he’s making a commercial for a paycheck, which means there’s no style or flavor to be found and instead just a lot of noise. Occasionally, the noise makes way for a darkly-lit and slightly creepy jump scare, but mostly the noise just covers up the giant CGI battles or the heavy amount of random bat use.
Dracula Untold could be much worse. It could have been downright awful and it could have been a complete drag to sit through. But it isn’t. But it’s also not very inventive or creative from any point of view and it does very little for those looking to get excited about the idea of Universal rebooting their monsters and bringing them all back to life.
Sure, newcomers might like this adaptation of Dracula and might find that mixing action with moments of horror is a much better idea for the character and a better way to introduce this now age-old world of monsters, but most seasoned cinema-goers are going to quickly look the other way and rightfully so, because Dracula Untold carries a very strong been-there-done-that aroma that never leaves its side for more than a minute or two.
And that’s too bad, because vampires have been around forever and it would have been great to see someone do something a little different with the material, while also paying enough tribute to the classics that eventually made way for the mass adoption of vampires in pop culture today.
Dracula Untold is definitely Universal’s way of saying that they want to reboot their monsters in the safest way possible, with very little chance of risk or creativity escaping onto the big screen. It’s not the worst movie to come out this year at all and I actually enjoyed the movie a lot more than my review may suggest, but it’s just so hard to word such a mixed bag of emotions. It’s not a disappointment or a failure by any means, but it’s also nothing new in terms of vampire flicks. Most won’t mind its flavorless taste, while others might still continue to crave more.
Dracula Untold – 6.5/10