If Dracula Untold is meant to be the first one out of the gate for the planned rebooting of the Universal Monsters franchise, I for one am not going to be clamouring for more. Set in the 15th Century, it’s a stodgy, visually drab, instantly forgettable reworking of Bram Stoker’s novel in the action-centred Underworld/I, Frankenstein vein, with Fast and Furious 6 villain Luke Evans starring as Drac, a Transylvanian prince who makes a pact with a cave-dwelling demon (Charles Dance) for some handy dark magic to protect his family and people against the evil clutches of Turk Sultan Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper).
Dracula Untold temporarily flirts with the child-like glee you find in all superhero origin stories when the protagonist first discovers their powers, but the novelty of developing sharply heightened senses and the ability to miraculously heal has long worn off. Transforming into a swarm of bats proves to be the film’s “cool” parlour trick, but Gary Shore, a first-time director of no discernible identity nor flair, has nowhere to go from there, delivering what seems like one monotonous, agonisingly prolonged climax of impossible-to-follow battle scenes and swirling bat-nadoes. The CGI is inexcusably bad, occasionally plummeting to levels of direct-to-video hilarity.
Evans lacks the lasting charismatic presence for this kind of role, but works hard to ground every silly moment he’s given with turbulent gravity. Only Dance’s brief appearance, in its slithery menace, registers with a knowing hamminess that perhaps the rest of the film could use more of.
‘Dracula Untold’ Movie Times