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REVIEW: “Dracula Untold” a fun flick to start the spooky season

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In Dracula Untold, the history of one of our beloved monsters is given the full antihero treatment, evocative of another Dark Knight. This story is a significant departure from previous films and focuses on the man, Vlad, son of the Dracula, the dragon. The film surprisingly sticks to history; focusing on the man seen as a beloved leader, fighting against the Turks, led by Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) Photo: fansided.com

The story posits an interesting theory as to how Vlad became our most popular vampire (apologies to Eric Northman). Vlad and his men are out protecting their territory when they come upon something that can be a bigger problem than an enemy invasion. Charles Dance (Papa Lannister in Game of Thrones) offers Vlad a solution to his Turkish problem.  Vlad takes the responsibility to protect his people to an extreme.

First time feature film director Gary Shore  mixed the heartfelt with some horror, as Vlad finds that he must tap into his sinister past to defend his family, people and land. The film pointedly demonstrates that the commoners’ fates are at the whim of whoever rules over them.

Will Dracula be the breakout role for Luke Evans? He certainly gives it his all. The handsome Welshman has been a strong supporting actor in some big budgets flicks such as Immortals, Clash of the Titans, Fast and Furious, and the latest Hobbit. This Vlad is warm, considerate, brave, clever, and adores his family. Sarah Gadon portrays Vlad’s wife, Mirena, and they have an affectionate and believable chemistry together. Evans’ face lights up in the scenes with his son, Ingeras (Art Parkinson), whom Vlad wants to give a happier childhood than his own.

Cooper is underused, with Mehmed being a stock bad guy (though he rocks the guyliner). Vlad and Mehmed have some unresolved issues from their youth, which Vlad wanted to leave behind.  Perhaps some additional character development was removed in the editing bay.  Shore stages one scene between Cooper and Evans rather brilliantly, while the fight scenes have life to them and make good use of their surroundings. The special effects, particularly the vampire vision, are inventive.

Shore delivers a fast paced economical film – that clocks in at an hour and 32 minutes. The movie is rated PG-13, and contains a rather chaste love scene between husband and wife. Dracula Untold has a few suspenseful moments, and features a couple of sword and arrow battles.

And oh yeah, the bats are pretty freaking spooky.

  

Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com

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Photo: fansided.com