Dracula Untold Review

poster from the Legendary Pictures film Dracula Untold

I’m ‘meh’ on vampires in general (upgrade to ‘bleh’ if we’re talking sparkly Twilight vampires). I also know almost nothing about Vlad the Impaler, historically speaking. But this week I went to see a historical vampire movie about Vlad the Impaler, because… well… you gotta watch something, right?

A Transylvanian prince turns himself into a vampire to protect his people from slaughter at the hands of the Turkish army.

Perhaps because I know almost nothing of Vlad the Impaler’s true history, I was pleasantly surprised by Dracula Untold. I was expecting it to be stupid, but I actually enjoyed it. And, I suspect, you will too if you’ve ever watched a Twilight movie and wished someone would just turn into a hoard of bats and wipe out an army or something.

Vlad (Luke Evans) is a Transylvanian prince sometime in… a different century. I’m not sure which. The one dominated by the Turkish Empire (was it Ottomon Empire?) at any rate. Vlad was given as a hostage/tribute to the Turkish sultan when he was a kid and has spent most of his life fighting in the army alongside the sultan’s son Mehmet (Dominic Cooper) and impaling dead bodies on spikes to make everyone scared of him.

Vlad the Impaler with a village on spikes from the Legendary Pictures film Dracula Untold

Pant pant… so much work… hoisting bodies… need a nap…

Vlad claims to have spiked people to save other people (so they would run away instead of trying to fight him and dying?) and that he felt nothing while doing it, which is kind of a contradiction, but whatever. The thing this movie wants you to know is that Vlad really loves his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and son Ingeras (Art Parkinson) and would never put them on spikes.

Art Parkinson and Luke Evans from the Legendary Pictures film Dracula Untold

Maybe just a small spike… and only after you’re dead.

Vlad is home in Transylvania enjoying a few years of peace when Mehmet shows up at his castle and demands 1,000 boys for his army – including Ingeras. Having been one of the previous 1,000 boys Vlad is not inclined to give up his kid, and when appealing to Mehmet as a friend doesn’t work, he kills a bunch of dudes who come to take the kid.

Vlad confronts Turkish kidnappers from the Legendary Pictures film Dracula Untold

Honey? Be a dear and fetch my dueling spikes.

Mehmet responds by sending his entire army to flatten Transylvania. Vlad doesn’t have anywhere near the number of people needed to fight them off. So far as I could see he only had four or five interchangeable bearded Viking-type dudes (Diarmaid Murtagh, William Housten, Noah Huntley, and a few others).

Vlad leads his army from the Legendary Pictures film Dracula Untold

Hurray for Vlad! He’s effectively gotten us all killed.

Luckily Vlad and his scouting party had stumbled across a creepy cave in the mountains containing an ancient vampire (Charles Dance). According to Brother Lucian (Paul Kaye) from the local monastery, oldy-vamp had been granted powers through a deal with a demon but was trapped in the cave until some idiot came along asking to be made into a vampire.

Charles Dance from the Legendary Pictures film Dracula Untold

You want my powers? Sweet! Yeah, sure! I mean… what’ll you give me for them?

Vlad drinks oldy-vamp’s blood and gains his powers for three days. At the end of three days he’ll go back to being a human unless he drinks blood. If he drinks blood, he’s stuck as a vampire forever and oldy-vamp will be free to leave the cave and run around doing whatever it was he dreamed about doing while he was trapped in a cave for all those years (boning lady-vamps? grabbing a cheeseburger? frolicking in a grassy meadow?)

Luke Evans and Sarah Gadon from the Legendary Pictures film Dracula Untold

You should maybe sit farther away. The meadows of the future are in peril.

So Vlad has three days to massacre the entire Turkish army. No problem. He’s a little combustable in daylight and he can’t stand to be around silver, but he’s as strong as a hundred men, can dissolve into a cloud of bats and zip across the countryside like The Flash, and rip peoples arms and legs off. Tell all the country’s wooden stake makers to shift into overdrive, because it’s time to go to work.

Vlad massacres Turks from the Legendary Pictures film Dracula Untold

You’d need the strength of hundred men to hoist all those dudes onto stakes.

The Interchangeable Vikings are right behind him… about three hours behind him. In other words, they show up at the end of the battle and go WOW! Until Brother Lucian figures out what Vlad is, and then everyone suddenly wants to burn him like a bunch of ungrateful bitches.

Luke Evans from the Legendary Pictures film Dracula Untold

Screw you guys! I’m taking my toys and going home!

So things go to hell and there’s a giant bat-cloud army battle swordfight lightning storm and eventually we kind of sort of catch up to the Dracula legend as Bram Stoker told it. Some people may not like how it turns out, or object to the history, but the important thing to remember is that this movie isn’t about Bram Stoker or history. It’s about giant cloud of murderous of bats…

Cloud of bats vs Turks round 3 from the Legendary Pictures film Dracula Untold

FWOAR! Take that, footsoldiers who were probably kidnapped from other kingdoms!

…and that giant cloud of murderous bats loves its son.

Art Parkinson and Paul Kaye from the Legendary Pictures film Dracula Untold

Baby Stark has no luck with fathers.

And as a father-massacres-world-to-protect-son movie, it’s good. Refreshing, even, after so many years of wishy-washy vampires who never use their superpowers for anything more exciting than hunting squirrels. The special effects look really good, Luke Evans sells ‘Vlad the Family Man’ and it’s hard not to cackle like a maniac when Turks get punched by giant fists made of bats. If they did another one, I might even watch that too. So check it out if you like badass vamps and rather one-sided battles.

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