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Film Review: “Dracula Untold”

Dracula Untold,” a film about the bloodsucking Count Dracula, had as many plot holes as Vlad the Impaler’s victims.

“Dracula Untold” is Legendary Pictures‘ latest action-fantasy epic, following “Godzilla” and “300: Rise of an Empire.” The film is directed by newcomer Gary Shore, and written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless.

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Luke Evans stars as Vlad the Impaler, a Transylvanian noble known for his vicious and murderous war record. Vlad is tempted to share the mysterious power of a master vampire, played by the fantastic Charles Dance (Tywin on “Game of Thrones“). Vlad accepts the powers of the vampire, and has three days to save his people from the marching sultan before his powers fade away.

Dracula Untold Movie Poster
Image courtesy of “Dracula Untold” IMDb page. “Dracula Untold” was released on Oct. 10.

Here’s a general tip for big budget epic films: don’t trust them with directors of Gatorade commercials and writers who have never worked on a  feature film.

This plot holes in this film will leave you asking how anything makes sense and questioning every other scene. The most ridiculous part of the plot is when the sultan says “men do not fear what they cannot see.” Clearly the sultan has never seen “Paranormal Activity” or “The Conjuring.” What we can’t see or understand is often the most scary.

The sultan proceeds to make his entire army wear blindfolds …in order to make them less scared … so that they keep marching. Most people would likely feel more scared with a blindfold, and take even more time to march for fear of bumping into random stuff.

Luke Evans, unlike the films’ directors and writers, does not disappoint.

Evans is the perfect actor for period fantasy action films, apparent from his recent work in “Immortals” and “The Hobbit.” Evans pulled off the best portrayal of Dracula since Gary Oldman in Francis Ford Coppola‘s “Dracula” in 1992. Evans expertly created a new Dracula as a deeply conflicted character, who feels love almost equally as much as hatred and bloodlust.

The film benefits from amazing costume design and art direction.

“Dracula Untold’s” head costume designer is Oscar-winner Ngila Dickson, the costume designer for the “Lord of the Rings” series. Vlad’s dragon-printed armor is awesome, complete with one of the best sword props in recent film.

The art directors include Paul Inglis and Heather Greenlees, who collectively worked on the art direction for three different seasons of “Game of Thrones.” Their style is clear in “Dracula Untold,” with clear emphasis on crimson, black and gold and an overall style that is reminiscent of “300.”

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There seems to be a curse associated with Dracula films. Despite being the second-most prolific character in film, second to Sherlock Holmes, there has never really been an all-around good Dracula movie. The notable adaptations are the first, the 1922 “Nosferatu,” the 1931 “Dracula,” the 1979 “Dracula” with Laurence Olivier, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dracula” and “Dracula 2000.”

Dracula has become a worldwide icon of horror, although the greatest version is still Bram Stoker’s original novel. Every film adaptation seems to be boring, overly complex or not given enough attention.

“Dracula Untold” had so much potential with its new twist on the story, but the film was just not given the attention and hard work it deserved. Luke Evans and the art/costume department saved the film from bankruptcy, but it is unlikely to linger in anyone’s memory.

Collegian A&E Film Beat Writer Morgan Smith can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @MDSFilms.

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