The Dracula mythos suffers like their antagonists on a sunny day from exposure. Vampires are even more done than Zombies right now, and the idea of a brand new take on the concept is not without merit. Maybe you could put them in a high-school or something.
Before I actually dig in to the film, a point of admission: I’ve never read the original Dracula book. It’s not that I have any objection to it, it’s just I haven’t actually done it. I’ve read adaptations, seen movies, seen the references, but never actually read the book. This may be an advantage here.
The big thing that the film does with the mythos is turn Vlad into the protagonist, and the hero. I’m not going to spoil anything that’s not in the trailer (for now) but basically when Vlad needs to protect his kingdom (countdom, something) from an invading army, he takes up the dark power of Vampirism. If he can resist doing anything stupid for three days, it’ll go away and he’ll be fine, otherwise he’s fucked. Hijinks ensue.
It’s not a bad reboot. Dracula’s the most interesting part of the mythos around him, and as a sympathetic character stuck between various rocks and places, the inexorable grinding towards his own doom is interesting to watch, and Luke Evans does a decent job of Troubled Hollywood Hero, but beyond the new origin story, it really doesn’t do anything different with the tropes of vampirism. One by one, the traditional banes – Silver, Sunlight, Religion etc – are brought in without any investigation or reasoning. Late in the game the film seems to suddenly realize it forgot about stakes, and does some paddle-work to make up for this. That said, the powers and abilities are presented mostly consistently. Battle sequences are invariably one-sided, with Vlad destroying foes by the hundred, until he finally comes up against someone else who’s read the tropes page. It suffers a lot from most of the best ten-second-sequences of the film having gone into the trailer,
There’s something very kryptonitey about the film’s treatment of silver vs vampires in the latter act, but it at least provides a finally interesting fight scene.
This isn’t a movie that is going to surprise you. The winding path of the hero downwards is telegraphed like sky-writing, and the very hollywood non-progressive casting is somewhat distressing. For a film mostly fighting turks, the shear whiteness of the cast is slightly blinding, and for a modern reboot it’s sad to see the only female named character treated very poorly. Late in the film – when Vlad’s making his own vampires – there are actual powerful female characters with fight scenes and everything. It doesn’t even come close to passing Bechmel or having an excuse not to. There are a lot of decent performances in the film. Dominic Cooper’s antagonist does as much as he can with a two dimensional character, Charles Dance chews elegant savage in the scenery as the original vampire. Art Parkinson is an affable enough muguffin as vlad’s son.
The ending telegraphs a sequel which seems to be a far more interesting reboot of the actual Dracula story, and I hope they get that far.
So basically, if you’re looking for a decent enough fantasy action movie to spend some time on, this is one. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but I didn’t regret the time spent watching it.