…sometimes what it needs is a monster.
Yesterday I decided to get out of the house for a bit and go to the pictures: there’s something wonderful about logging out of email accounts, switching everything off and going incommunicado for a couple of hours. Even more so on a school day, when hardly anyone’s about, and no one in the screen answering their phones during climactic moments, as happened in the summer when I saw X-Men: Days of Future Past. I was confident that on this occasion I would have no such troubles for a lunch time screening of Dracula Untold.
And so it was.
I’ll admit that the prologue’s frames didn’t fill me with promise: I’m not a huge fan of the almost 3D-like stills that are accompanied by blood frozen in flight, a la 300, but much to my relief they quickly disappeared and the film began in earnest. I found myself carried along with it, although if you’re a fan of conventional vampire epics then this is not the film for you. It is a more personal story, following Vlad III (whose other name, Vlad Dracula, provided the inspiration for Bram Stoker) as he seeks to find the strength to save his family, and his people, from the Sultan who threatens their peace and demands 1,000 boys for his army. It is the tried and tested “threatened family” formula, and how far one will go for their loved ones, but what lifts it from a routine is the relationship between Luke Evans as the titular character and Sarah Gadon as his wife Mirena, and then Tywin Lannister himself, Charles Dance, is just a scene-stealing joy to behold. It’s a visually impressive film, but as with the epics it is probably one that the small screen just won’t do justice for certain scenes (to say which would spoil the film I’m afraid). And yet, there were a few rare moments where it felt like something was missing, and the epilogue, like the prologue, didn’t sit that easily with me for other reasons (although again, spoiler).
Despite these quibbles, I did actually enjoy it. It’s a film that you can sit back and take it for what it is, and it doesn’t detract from the literary character that has stuck in mind since I first read the novel as a 10-year old boy on a school trip.