Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dracula Untold ★1/2

Image result for Dracula Untold stills

    Classic literature is a beautiful thing to behold. This stems from the fact that today's literary realm pales in comparison, as far as pure talent is concerned, and it surely lacks the depth of intellectual prowess that only a name such as Leo Tolstoy can summon. Characters are cherished and live on in the hearts of many while inevitably becoming the focal point of countless, and rather unnecessary, remakes and tales of a re-fashioned manner. (Needless to say, no one has dared to attempt a re-telling of a novel as highly distinguished as War and Peace.) 

    Bram Stoker's "Dracula" is a persona that has--much like his nature of being--prolonged his existence and assured his survival among the sands of time. The lore of vampires has been around for centuries, but it was this late nineteenth-century creation that spawned the modern temperament for these lovable creatures. Every "Twilight" fan owes a debt of gratitude to this remarkable literary figure.

    Yet, with this prestige there undoubtedly comes misguided admiration. How else can you designate these expendable renditions that lend redundant offerings?

    "Dracula Untold" is a film that strives to shun everything we have become accustomed to, with regard to the king of vampires, and aspires to unfold a different tale that essentially becomes a portrayal of Vlad the Impaler, an anti-hero of sorts, who warrants a dark and immeasurable power to defend his kingdom. The logic is foregone and we are ultimately left with a hollowed origin of a soul whose life was so preoccupied with death and savagery that romance and humanitarianism would seem highly irresolute.

    If there is one positive that stands erect it is the nature of the plot. The undemanding structure allows ample time for senseless violence and for a handful of scenes that would conjure sentimentality, if not for the lack of emotional restraint. The external conflict is limited to the presence of the Turks, whose military endeavors require tribute countries, such as Transylvania, to lend their young males for training and preparation for war. Of course, this would not be a complication if Vlad's offspring did not contain that pesky Y chromosome.

    Vlad's internal turmoil consists of the temptation to feed on human blood (which would have been an outstanding character study if emphasized in greater scope) and the responsibility of keeping his people safe from an immoral action. In doing so, blood is shed in numerous disparate manners and fields of men are reduced to human shish kabobs.

    This all leads to a final and quite tedious climax between our prince and the Sultan of Turkey, which subsequently becomes strained and unconvincing, especially after witnessing Vlad's powers in full force. (There is a scene in which Dracula utilizes the strength of thousands of bats, with simple hand gestures, to decimate a Turkish army.)

    Although there are many facets of this picture that vindicate the distinction of inexperience, this being the directorial debut of one Gary Shore), the setting is without hesitation the dominant shortcoming. It is limited to computer generated castles and fields of tents, containing soldiers prepared for battle, and never fully convinces us that its relevance is, in fact, pertinent. If anything, the setting only showcases the lack of characterization that our beloved protagonist can provide.

    Vlad's actions are dictated by the temporal factors and moral attitudes that prevail in this time period; therefore, molding his personality into a one-dimensional construction. He only proceeds in the manner that he does because that is what is expected of a king. Although, there is a hint of egoist thought, as Vlad seems to only care about the welfare of his son.

    Another notable vice of this inept setting would be an Easter celebration within the confines of Vlad's castle. A grand hall is limited to a modest condo, and the perception of depth could not be more compromised. A subtle technique of forced perspective would have sufficed in this particular instance, considering that when the Turks propose the donation of one thousand Transylvanian boys into their established army, it seems like an arduous task, as they would be lucky to receive one hundred from the small population presented to us.

    Structure aside, the potential of Luke Evans to headline a feature film unavoidably comes into context. Evans' career has predominately been composed of side characters and minuscule roles. Although this picture does little to cement the notion of his ability to carry the weight and burden of a blockbuster film, there is undoubtedly a sense of likelihood. Unfortunately, "Dracula Untold" could never become a breakthrough performance for any actor and regrettably this is not the actor's fault.

    Where this film fails invariably, is in its foundation. It does little to capture the essence of the character of Dracula himself, unlike "Bram Stoker's Dracula" which reproduces his sensual aura time and again. However, I believe the aim of this picture is to humanize this legend and identify him more with Vlad the Impaler. If that is true, then this could not be more of a misfire. For, Vlad is not designed to evoke empathy or any trait of heroism. He was a ruthless creature, whose life was filled with barbarism and death. To portray him as a hero, would simply be uneducated.

1 comment:

  1. This movie stupid. Wuznt scary at all and i hate it.