5 years

Trailer Review: Dracula Untold (2014)

Dracula Begins.

A new trailer was recently released online for Gary Shore’s feature film debut, Dracula Untold. The film stars Luke Evans as Dracula and it explores the origins of the character similar to how Batman Begins explored the origins of Batman.

Dracula Untold bears some similarities to Francis Ford Coppola’s movie adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel. In Coppola’s film and Stoker’s novel Count Dracula’s name was borrowed from Vlad the Impaler who was known as Vlad Dracula. In Dracula Untold Luke Evans plays Vlad the Impaler who was the Prince of Wallachia (now known as Romania.) Vlad is struggling to repel the Ottomans who want to make Wallachia a part of their empire. Sultan Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) has demanded Vlad hand over his son to be trained as a soldier in the Ottoman army. Vlad refuses and kills the Ottoman guards sent by Mehmed to retrieve his son which starts a huge conflict. Vlad fearing that he is not strong enough to fight the Ottomans turns to an old vampire for help. He believes that becoming a vampire will give him the power to defeat his enemies; unfortunately he doesn’t realize that vampirism is a curse and not a benefit.

Luke Evans’ Vlad is a man trying to bear the weight of his many responsibilities. In his desperation he makes a serious mistake that he may live to regret for centuries. Dracula is a tragic figure and hopefully the movie will favor that version of the character. There are some interesting similarities between Evans as Dracula and Christian Bale as Batman; both actors play men willing to dedicate themselves to a cause and both are willing to make great sacrifices.

The supporting cast is splendid and it includes Charles Dance as the vampire who turns Vlad into a creature of the night. Dance’s character resembles Count Orlok from F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu which is a nice homage. Sarah Gadon, Charlie Cox and Paul Kaye will also appear in the film as various characters. Samantha Barks from the 2012 movie adaptation of Les Misérables gets an interesting role too: she plays Baba Yaga, a strange witch with iron teeth from Slavic folklore. According to the folklore she flies around in a mortar, wields a pestle and lives in a house that stands on chicken legs. It seems unlikely that this version of the character will appear in the film though which is a shame.

The trailer features plenty of action and it makes good use of the countryside in Northern Ireland where the movie was filmed. There are also some nice shots in the trailer which wastes no time in getting to the supernatural stuff.  One visually arresting shot shows Vlad standing before the entrance to a cave carved out of a mountain with his red cape flowing in the wind. There is a sense of foreboding as Charles Dance’s vampire beckons Vlad to enter the cave to meet him; Vlad is like a fly entering a spider’s web. It’s an entertaining trailer and the film has the potential to be an enjoyable genre flick with a mix of drama, horror and action.

It’s a shame Hollywood hasn’t bothered to do a movie about the life of the real Vlad Dracula. That is a very interesting story waiting to be told and it is a tale unfamiliar to a lot of movie goers. Films about Count Dracula the vampire are also not that popular these days. Dracula Untold is apparently the first big budget solo Dracula movie produced by Hollywood in nearly fourteen years. Eager fans can sink their teeth into the film when it is released on October 3rd in the UK and on the 17th in the US. Check out the trailer and share your thoughts.

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