“Ride or die.” Those words only appear a few times …
Big action, gravity-defying car shenanigans, and unstoppable macho energy make for a ridiculously fun ride. Yes, some sloppy editing bogs down director James Wan’s more-is-more finale, but that’s only in comparison to the other set pieces, which are damn near flawless. Fans of the action genre will want to catch this one early and often.
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.