Last weekend I snuggled down with some popcorn and watched ‘Dracula Untold’- a shiny new biopic focusing on the years before Dracula became Dracula, and intertwining his mythology with the real history of Vlad the Impaler. Not a new theory, and something I also came across also in Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula, and yet, truth be told, I really enjoyed this film. Although it’s received some fairly negative reviews for its plot, (I’m looking at you, Guardian.com,) I personally found the plot enjoyably easy to follow- like some of the best fantasy blockbusters, it was a pure and simple pitching of Good vs. Evil, light versus dark- and, in other senses, heterosexual, hunter-gathering, mean moody and magnificent Romanians vs. exotic, highly organized, sophisticated Evil Baddie Turks. The plot in itself was this: Evil Vlad the Impaler has a change of heart (cue much staring at a rosary,) and becomes the model prince (exchanging scary red armour for nice furry cloak.) He settles down, has a son and is happily married (to the girlish looking Mirena, played by Sarah Gadon whose delicate features belie a surprising amount of backbone.)
Meet the wifey: Sarah Gadon as Mirena (image from Google)
But the leader of the Turks, Mehmet (Dominic Cooper- as Turkish? Really?) wants to force his kingdom into giving up 1000 boys for his army- including Vlad’s son. Pissing off an Impaler and winner of Romania’s Best Dad Award in one fell swoop? Not a good move.
Image from totalfilm.com
Mehmet gained kudos in my eyes for the sheer amount of times he uttered lines like ‘I want my one thousand boys’, and ‘If you are virile, you will make more boys,’ (this to Vlad- Luke Evans- who, judging by his slash-and-hack reaction to Mehmet’s guards, was clearly not amused.) Cue an epic battle, a master vampire locked in a cliff (the sadly underused Charles Dance in some sort of black skull-cap) and lots of fantastically CGI bats that Vlad is able to control in a sort of evil bat-ballet. This was a winner for me, through its elegant and clever cinematography (in particular a free-fall shot between Vlad and Marena- without giving too much away) and the gripping one-man-versus-a-whole-army fight scenes that had me pointing at Luke Evans and hissing, ‘now that is a PROPER geezer!’ Definitely one for the DVD collection- apart from a few clangers (i.e. why exactly was Charles Dance locked in a cliff-cage, when Vlad, his protégée, was free to run about?) I was still almost sorry when it came to an end.
Overall rating- 9.5 out of 10