Director: Gary Shore
Writers: Matt Sazama (screenplay), Burk Sharpless (screenplay)
Stars: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon
In this, the last of the modern Universal monster remakes before they start their own shared universe consisting of the The Mummy, Wolfman, Van Helsing and others (no doubt due to the recent success of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe) we have the story of a young Vlad III (played rather weakly by Evans) in the fifteenth century.
We open to a quick monologue giving us a back story to the Christian-Turk wars involving the Templar’s and the effects of the lengthy conflicts. In fourteen forty-two, ten years after Vlad has returned from servitude to the Turkish, Vlad’s lands are at an uneasy peace with his former captives. Nothing is said of Vlad’s father, nor how he returned.
While out looking for scouts, Vlad and two of his closest happen upon a fissure in a cave. Upon entering the cave they meet the resident creature (Charles Dance) who quickly dispatches with Vlad’s associates and is only stopped by Vlad crawling to the caves entrance, which is bathed in sunlight. Vlad then seeks out the local holy man to learn more about this monster. Naturally the peace between the Turks does not last and Vlad takes desperate measures to protect those he loves.
The overall problem with this film though is that it’s just not very good, despite its budget. Now don’t get me wrong, the movie is certainly enjoyable and fast-paced enough to keep you interested, but it has numerous other issues which befall it. Luke Evans while a reasonable actor, comes across as a weak, camp Orlando Bloom (if that’s actually possible). He is just far too soft-voiced, pretty and basically unassuming to play such a strong historical character.
The script is also a major issue in my opinion. Quite often the dialogue is shockingly laughable (though not to the extent of the terribly written Bram stokers Dracula to be fair). The camerawork and photography are also not the greatest, though I will say there are some fantastic single shots littered throughout the film. I’m not sure why there was such inconsistency. There are however some nice effects and despite the blatant use of CGI, the big battle scenes are visually quite impressive.
Given it was almost 20 years before Universal started making these again and will only be a few years since the last lot of reboots, it will be interesting to see how a modern audience reacts to these remade classics. To be fair to this title, they do try to be a little inventive with the setting, era and story, and overall this is an enjoyable, if not a great film.
The Sage’s Rating: 6/10