Director: Gary Shore
Cast: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Charles Dance
Plot: An alternate story on how Vlad The Impaler became Dracula, in this case, to protect his family and kingdom from the Turks.
Review: One can't help but be intrigued by the ideas brought forth by the filmmakers behind this piece, especially after seeing the trailer, though it still feels like a B-grade attempt at creating an action horror flick. While the end result is not too shabby, I ought to warn you that it's more like I, Frankenstein than Underworld.
In this retelling of Vlad The Impaler's legend, Luke Evans plays the titular character, who had earned his nickname after being a feared warrior among the Turks who had claimed him when he was a boy and made him who he is. Now he seeks peace with his family and kingdom, only for the Turks to show up and ask for a thousand boys to join them as their soldiers, or Transylvania perishes. Vlad then seeks help from a monster in a cave, who can give him the power to fight the Turks and save his people, but it involves becoming a monster who has an undying thirst for blood.
As far as story goes, director Gary Shore and the writers have come up with a good one, presenting us with a hero who must resist temptation to the dark side in order to do something good. It's a familiar tale but it works nonetheless. At a lean 92 minutes, Shore doesn't overstay his welcome and makes the film watchable overall, and paces it well enough so there's a fine balance of action and substance.
Evans makes a solid hero as Vlad, achieving a nice balance between desperate man and deadly monster. Sarah Gadon is both gorgeous and talented, fitting the role as Vlad's wife well. Dominic Cooper though gets too little screen time as the villain Mehmed, leader of the Turks. Game Of Thrones' Charles Dance is as menacing as ever in the role of the vampire that grants Vlad his power. His time on screen may be short, but he's excellent in every second of it.
The weakness of the film comes from the overreliance of CGI in the second half, when a more practical approach would be best. Lighting and camerawork overall also could have been improved as I found it hard at times to see what's going on. And lastly, maybe the film would benefit more from having a higher rating instead of watering it down to PG13, after all it is Dracula we're talking about.
Dracula Untold is not bad at all if you want entertainment for an hour and a half. I'll admit there have been better vampire stories made, but it's okay to indulge in this. (7/10)