The Imitation Game Adapted by Graham Moore, from the book …
The mysterious and secretive figure of Alan Turing has undergone something of a political and cultural renaissance in the UK over the past few years. A young mathematic prodigy, Oxford graduate, and cryptographer par excellence, he was ushered into the ultra top secret Bletchley Park programme during the Second World War and tasked with the impossible: to break the German military codes through a captured sequencer which could potentially offer billions of responses to any clandestine communication. Socially incompetent and ruthlessly dedicated, Turing willingly threw himself into the arena of cerebral combat, along the way erecting much of the intellectual and theoretical infrastructure of the modern computing world. But as a closeted homosexual his treatment at the hands of the authorities in the post-war period should cause the great British bulldog to hang its head in shame, with he and his team’s contribution to the continuation of civilisation remaining cloaked for over half acentury due to the Official Secrets Act. Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown would later make an official public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way he was treated,” while the Queen granted him a posthumous pardon on Christmas Eve 2013.
Dracula Untold is one of those misfires that’s not even memorably or enjoyably poor, just a monotonous distraction for an admittedly brisk hour and a half. The revisionist Maleficient-like interpretation of Dr. Acula as a heroic figure just doesn’t work with material like this that’s so miserably solemn and lacking in any stirring entertainment value. Only in one brief part of the final act does the film gain some goofy spark, and it’s fittingly when the film actually embraces its horror roots as a fully vampire Vlad turns a bunch of his people and they all go sharp-toothed upon the Turk forces. Of course, that’s all for naught as Gary Shore’s feature debut goes back to neutering Dracula’s bite in making him the lone ‘good guy’ among his suddenly all evil people, and concluding with a likely far too optimistic franchise tease: ending a film with “Let the games begin” almost feels like mockery when there’s been so little incentive offered to come back and play.
Ambiguity isn’t tolerated by studios anymore, especially when it comes to high-profile characters that can serve as franchise-starters. And characters don’t come with a higher profile that the lord of vampires himself, Dracula. Origin stories boomed with Batman Begins and Casino Royale, unfortunately the only thing Hollywood took from the success of those films is that EVERY character needs their backstory completely explained. So now audiences will be served a gritty reboot of an icon they already know very well.