Dracula Untold is an imagining of the origins to the Dracula myth, doing away with the Bram Stoker storyline (is that such a great idea?). We are introduced to Vlad Țepeș (Luke Evans), a prince of Transylvania who was forced to train as a child warrior for the Ottoman Empire and gained great notoriety earning his Vlad the Impaler moniker with a brutal slaughter of thousands and impaling them on stakes. Now, years later, he rules over his land and his people in peace but this is all about to be broken as the Turks return to his lands once more.
Luke Evans is actually pretty good, you can feel his anguish and loss of power as the Turks use their might and superior numbers to put him in a position of weakness. His wife Merina (Sarah Gadon) is a decent character but doesn’t really add any weight to the story, Ingeras (Art Parkinson) their son is merely a plot device, nothing more. And then we have the criminally underused Sultan Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper). It would have been nice to see more of him, rather than just being the big villain, the finale boss fight and an unseen looming presence.
And then there is Charles Dance. I know, what the hell is he doing in this? As the ancient Vampire that gives Vlad his powers, he is rightly angry with his lot and trapped in a cave on a nearby mountain. Given the chance to escape, he manages it and doesn’t do much else apart from his excellent ending lines. His accent seemed to change from Transylvanian to English and back again throughout his scenes, as does Vlad’s (he is English when in Transylvania but at the end, in London, he has an affected Eastern European accent. Strange decision I thought). There are some decent action scenes as Vlad embraces his new found power and takes his revenge on the Turks, and his “brother”, and with some great effects as Vlad transforms from man to a flock/colony of bats and fluently changes back again mid-fight sequence.
For me though, there is a bit too much emphasis on the love story part of the Dracula myth, the making of Dracula (Vlad the Impaler) as a martyr who was only doing it to spare his family and people rather than the monster that he is.
Story is fairly alright as far as an origin goes, how Dracula got his wings. And fangs. Other than that it doesn’t really add anything to the superb original myth. I much prefer him being of murky descent, some muddied tales of horrific barbarism, amplified by the vampire mythology. Dracula itself is a story of love and a story of control. This film puts far too much emphasis on the family and his dedication to his people, detracting from the overall idea of the dark prince.
Horror Rating: ★½☆☆☆
Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆