Stepping into the theater, I hadn’t seen anything for this movie. I knew the gist from people talking about it but I haven’t seen any footage.
I also heard talks that this might be the beginning of a “movie monster shared universe,” which would be like Marvel movies but with Dracula/Wolfman/Mummy/etc. Kind of a strange idea, but maybe this movie could sell me on it.
The gist is that Luke Evans stars as Vlad the Impaler, who just came home from war and has an uneasy relationship with the Turks, who recruited him as a child and taught him to be bloodthirsty. Suddenly, the Turks want to raise another child army and specifically wants Vlad’s son (Art Parkinson, Rickon from Game of Thrones). To save his son and protect his people, Vlad resorts to an old and mysterious evil in order to defeat them, which (spoiler) turns him into a vampire. Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark from Captain America) stars as the Turk leader.
In the first fifteen minutes, I feared this would be another Hercules and just throw together a story with some horrid action scenes. Luckily, he gains his vampiric powers pretty early and this shakes up the traditional format. It’s awesome to watch him work his magic, most notably able to turn into bats and then reform. It gives you enough action to justify the movie’s existence but not too much to overdo it.
Comparisons have been made to a superhero movie, that Dracula feels more like a superhero than a deadly vampire. After seeing this, that’s pretty justified. It does play out like an origin story and leaves open the potential offshoots for other movie monsters, which is an interesting route. I also applaud the writers who were able to simultaneously create a character named Vlad the Impaler but also made him sympathetic, understandable, and someone you can root for.
What didn’t work?
While it did manage to differentiate itself a little, this movie still feels familiar. You haven’t seen these action scenes, but you’ve seen action like this. It doesn’t do too much to truly feel unique and sometimes plays it safe.
The dialogue is pretty atrocious, including an “I’ll erase you from history books” line that made me think about history books and if that line even made sense contextually. There were just tons of cliches and I didn’t really buy Dominic Cooper as the Turkish leader, as he just looked overbronzed and out of place.
It’s just whatever. Some cool action scenes that do some unique things but the movie as a whole feels entirely familiar. Evans is fine but the writing does him no good. Those of you excited for this movie will likely get what you want from it. If you already are hesitant, this movie won’t do anything to change your mind, so maybe stay away.