My husband and I made a wonderful date out of this movie. I’ve been a Dracula/Vlad the Impaler fan since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted someone (as I didn’t have the patience back then) to make an entertaining movie about Vlad. This was not what I expected. This is more entertaining and more heart wrenching than I ever imagined. As usual, I’m not going to go into full detail about the movie. I want to touch on a few things that I noticed about the film. *** WARNING: THERE WILL BE SOME SPOILERS. SO, IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE MOVIE AND PLAN ON WATCHING, PLEASE STOP READING. THANK YOU. ***
I should at least summarize the movie for you. The plot follows Vlad post-Turkish soldier days. He’s got a family and a “kingdom” to rule over. Alas, instead of ruling and living in peace, the Turks have returned to stake claim on the young boys of the region, including Vlad’s son. Instead of surrendering the boys (and his son), he pretty much declares war on the Turks, and in order to win the war, Vlad made a deal with the Devil’s victim (the first vampire). He (Vlad) was given the strength and abilities of a vampire (with side effects) and was also given a way out of being stuck as a vampire. All he had to do was fight the urge to drink blood for 3 days, and he would return to his mortal self. In the big battle, the Turks managed to take his son and kill his wife and nearly massacred all his people (they were all hiding in a monastery). Killing his wife was the poke in the back that tipped Vlad over the edge and turned him into Dracula. With his wife’s final breath and request to save their son, Vlad drinks her blood, turns his dying people into vampires with his own blood, and wipes out the Turkish military by covering the sun with dark heavy clouds. When Vlad finally saves his son from the Turks, the vampires sort of turned against the boy. Vlad, always wanting to protect his family, is ready to fight and kill the vampires. Cue the clergyman with a silver cross. Vlad hands his son over to him and clears the clouds, letting the sun burn the vampires to death. His son is crowned king of the remaining kingdom, and oh look! Vlad is brought back to life by a very loyal servant to the Devil. The end scene, we see Vlad Dracula in today’s world, and his wife has been… reborn?… He speaks a few lines from their vow, and she is pretty much swooning over his chivalry and charming way of talking. As they walk away together, we see the first vampire (the one who turned Vlad) rise from his seat and begin following them, saying, “Let the games begin.” *roll end credits*
Okay, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. There are three things I want to hit on. First of all, I love seeing familiar faces from my favorite movies and TV shows in other movies and shows. This time, I’m talking about Tywin Lannister and Rickon Stark from HBO’s A Game of Thrones.
Tywin… I mean Charles Dance… is the Master Vampire or the original vampire. He’s been wanting to get out of the bloody cave he’s been stuck in for centuries thanks to his deal with the Devil. The makeup job his crew did on him was amazing. Quite believable and creepy, and I was thoroughly impressed by it. His teeth, all pointy and blood-stained, are scary looking, and his tongue when he licked Vlad’s open wound was so grotesque and gross. Dance is such a great actor that he’s made me hate him in A Game of Thrones, but in this movie, he made me actually pity him, root for him even. The part that kind of sort of put the fear of vampire in me was when he said that he’ll call on Vlad to play as his pawn when he fails the three-day challenge.
Sure enough, the very end of the movie struck a chord with me, and I was hungry to learn what exactly Master Vampire meant when he said “Let the games begin”. Unfortunately, unless Hollywood decides to make a follow up movie, we’re left to guess and assume what it could possibly mean. (The Underworld series fangirl in me wants this movie to somehow be linked to my favorite vampire series.)
I, for one, am looking forward to the day that little Rickon Stark… bah. Art Parkinson… take stronger, more active roles. He’s an under privileged actor at this point in time, as he plays weak, child characters that requires protecting, but I must say that in this movie, he’s got more lines and his character’s bravery when Vlad had to choose to surrender him to the Turks or to protect him, and Ingeras (Parkinson) silences his mother by saying, “I’ll go.” The courage of a 10-year-old child is a thing of beauty, but the vulnerability of a child that age is also admirable in an actor child. Parkinson lets Ingeras’s walls come crashing down as he screams for his father in the last battle scene, and it left me covering my mouth and fighting back tears and gasps.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Parkinson becomes the next big thing in Hollywood (if he plays his cards right), and with each small role he takes on, he reveals his layers of acting prowess to the general public (and critics). I can only keep my fingers crossed that he continues to expand and grow because I’d love to see him blow every role he takes on out of the water.
My second target is the “magic” involved in this movie. It’s interesting to see how movies twist and work in magical properties to people’s imagination, and this one worked out great! I enjoyed the transformation of Vlad between running as a human and flying as a swarm of bats. It actually reminded me of EverQuest II, as there’s an “illusion” spell/potion that’ll turn you into a swarm of bats. I applauded the red eyes to give Vlad the sight of heat signatures, even though at times I wanted to turn to my husband and say, “Look he’s got Superman eyes!” May favorite magical property happened just a pinch before the final battle. The clouds darkened and a rainless storm washed over the Turkish camp, blocking the sun’s light and protecting Vlad and his newly created army of 15-20 vampires.
Just watching the black clouds bellowing and growing with Vlad walking – strutting – underneath it was chill-inducing and made me grateful that vampires didn’t have the ability to control the weather. It’s an amazing gift, curse, ability, whatever you want to call it.
Lastly and very briefly, I want to look at the character of Shkelgim (played by Zach McGowan). The gypsy Shkelgim is only seen in three scenes, but you can tell in just the first scene that he sees something dark and great within Vlad. In just three scenes, McGowan gives the relationship between Shkelgim and Vlad life and meaning, along with my new annoying word… “massster”. He really got into the “S”, and it drove me bonkers every time I heard it. I still cringe just thinking about it.
Overall, I give Dracula Untold:
4 out of 5 clappers:
(a) Incorporation of magical properties
(b) Extreme twist of history and fiction
(c) Strong cast
(d) Good portrayal of Vlad’s humanity