Having watched the trailer for “Dracula Untold” before watching the film, we knew that it wasn’t going to be filled with scary and overly-dramatic scenes that will cause nightmares. Although it was labeled as a dark fantasy action horror film, it was pretty clear that “Dracula Untold” wouldn’t have an abundance of horror elements, so much so that even the weak-hearted might enjoy watching it.
Based on Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel “Dracula”, the film is an origin story of Transylvanian prince Vlad III Tepes aka Vlad The Impaler. The film focuses more on the story of the actual historical figure before the Irish novelist created a horrific blood-sucking monster. Some people might actually get disappointed (or happy) because they may have expected it to be another Twilight-esque vampire film.
In “Dracula Untold”, Vlad the Impaler (played by Luke Evans) is not as evil and cruel as he seems to be because he kills to protect his kingdom, his people, and most importantly his family. Together with his beautiful wife Mirena (played by Sarah Gadon), the origin story of Vlad Dracula begins with Vlad’s reign over Transylvania that has brokered peace for the country from the powerful Ottoman Empire.
However, the prolonged period of peace was threatened by Sultan Mehmed II (played by Dominic Cooper of “Captain America: The First Avenger”) who has set his eyes on Transylvania as part of his global domination. Going back to the first scene, Sultan Mehmed II is Vlad’s frenemy whom he grew up with as he was handed over by his father to the Ottoman Empire.
Following in his father’s footstep, Sultan Medmed II demanded Vlad to hand over 1,000 Wallachia’s boys, including Vlad’s own son, Ingeras (played by Art Parkinson) to become child soldiers in his army. Angered by his actions, Vlad refused to let him tarnish the kingdom and sparked a war against Sultan Mehmed II. In order to win the war against the sultan, Vlad had no choice but to brave himself to climb the Broken Tooth Mountain, in hopes of gaining strength from the monster hiding in the cave of the mountain.
From this point onwards, the audience may become aware that the origin story is associated with the mad Roman emperor Caligula, who became an ancient sorcerer and the original vampire in the film. Caligula (played by Charles Dance) is intrigued by Vlad’s braveness but at the same time, questioning if Vlad is willing to doom his soul and transform into a monster to save his kingdom. Regardless of what’s going to happen to Vlad, Caligula let him drink his blood so that he can escape from his own prison.
Thus, a new monster is born. Dracula.
But! Like most vampire stories you have heard, Vlad must endure 3 days of agony and pain, and resist the temptation of drinking human blood for the curse to be lifted. If not, he shall remain as a vampire for eternity until a man like him comes along. During his transition period, Vlad became sensitive to sunlight and silver even though he gained superhuman ability such as immortality, supersonic speed, healing capabilities, and the strength of 10 men.
However, the sultan’s army has marched closer to Vlad’s kingdom and even planned an assassination on his people who were on a run. With his limited power and strength, Vlad decided that this war must be ended in 3 days before the curse is lifted. Clearly, his determination and will power should’ve been strong enough to stop him from drinking human blood but what forced him to turn into a vampire?
That’s for you to find out in the film!
Considering that this is Gary Shone’s feature debut, we thoroughly enjoyed “Dracula Untold” for its storyline and CGI-enhanced effects. Several scenes including the scene where Vlad summons thousands of bats to attack Medmed’s army (as shown in the trailer) may have a lasting effect on the audience. Not that we are fond of the bloody death scenes, but it was a little disappointing since we had expected to see more blood. The ending of the film also left an impression as it insinuates that there might just be a sequel to “Dracula Untold”.
The film hits Malaysian cinema on October 2, 2014. That’s today!
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