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Sunday, May 24, 2015

DRACULA UNTOLD (2014)

Hard to know what the producers were thinking on this wholly underwhelming Dracula pic. An origin story out of Transylvania, liberally seasoned with GAME OF THRONES accents, it finds Vlad the Impaler (everyone calls him ‘Vlad’) succumbing to the undead powers of a chalk-faced Charles Dance in order to protect hearth & home from invading Turks. Largely a series of epic battles, heavy on CGI bats, its debuting creative team fails to make the leap from commercials to commercial cinema. In storytelling, dialogue, acting, visual design & composition, hopelessly deficient, often idiotic. (A nighttime battle with half the forces blindfolded manages to put the players as much in the dark as the audience.) The only elements that stand out are the film’s poster art and Vlad’s abs. (Alternate title: DRACULA: GYM RAT.) For a real scare, at the end, an epilogue threatens a modern-day sequel! Happily, soft grosses may have put a stake in that particular undead heart.

DOUBLE-BILL: Francis Coppola’s BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA/’92 is a dramatically inert, Edwardian fashion show. EXCEPT for its reel-and-a-half prologue: a spectacular, ultra-stylized Vlad the Impaler origin story.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: DRACULA author Bram Stoker supposedly based his character on his employer, the great Victorian/Edwardian actor Sir Henry Irving. Why no one has attempted an origin story that takes off from those two (Stoker was Irving’s valet/dresser) is a mystery.

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