The tale of the vampire Dracula has been adapted many times for the screen, but the new movie starring “The Hobbit” actor Luke Evans promises new material in its title, “Dracula Untold."
The movie, which hit theaters on Oct. 10, eschews Mina Harker and Dracula’s time in England to look at his earlier life, when Dracula (Evans) was Vlad the Impaler. When Vlad seeks out a vampire (“Game of Thrones” actor Charles Dance), he is given super-strength, supernatural speed, as well as other powers. An unfortunate side effect is that compulsion to drink blood, though if he can avoid doing that for a certain amount of time, he’ll go back to his normal state.
Dominic Cooper of “Need for Speed” appears as Mehmed II, the sultan of Ottoman Empire, who requires many of the young boys of Vlad’s principality, including Vlad’s own son Ingeras (Art Parkinson), to join his army. “Belle” actress Sarah Gadon stars as Mirena, Vlad’s wife.
The movie has not been well reviewed and currently holds a score of 38 out of 100 on the review aggregator website Metacritic.
Los Angeles Times critic Gary Goldstein was one reviewer who didn’t mind the movie as much as others.
“’Dracula Untold’ proves an absorbing, swiftly comprehensive origin tale,” he wrote. “Director Gary Shore executes the competent script by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless with admirable dispatch and a strong visual sense… The twist here [of Vlad having to avoid drinking blood for three days] is what provides the film with its propulsive tension and extra mythic jolt… Although the resolution is predictable… it's a satisfying journey, with Evans… embodying his hero-villain role with requisite strength and gravitas.”
However, others weren’t as won over, with Brian Truitt of USA Today awarding it two stars out of four.
“At times Dracula Untold flirts with dullness so much that it might as well just stick a stake in the heart of Bram Stoker's legacy,” he wrote. “Those Game of Thrones-style epic sequences balance out the weak dialogue… Evans does what he can and exudes enough charisma to make his Vlad pop at times.”
Meanwhile, Michael O’Sullivan of the Washington Post remembered that “for a tantalizing half hour or so, it actually seemed like the underlying idea of ‘Dracula Untold’ – an origin story drawing its DNA from superhero flicks, not monster movies – might go somewhere" and noted that modern touches in the movie like the use of the word "OK" are distracting.
“The film… occasionally boasts gorgeous visuals,” he wrote. “Deeper questions of logic arise from the film’s handling of established vampire lore… There are moments of handsome cinematography and occasional effects that both frighten and impress.”