Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA/Japan, 2014. Universal Pictures, Legendary Entertainment, Michael De Luca Productions, Dentsu, Fuji Television Network. Screenplay by Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, based on characters created by Bram Stoker. Cinematography by John Schwartzman. Produced by Michael De Luca. Music by Ramin Djawadi. Production Design by Francois Audouy. Costume Design by Ngila Dickson. Film Editing by Richard Pearson.
If everyone gets an origin story, it’s only fair that Bram Stoker’s evergreen anti-hero gets one too. Most of the details are created from a few drops of history, a fair share of Francis Ford Coppola’s version and, for the most part, a lot of stealing from Lord Of the Rings movies including a member of its cast as the lead character. Having decided to no longer live up to his reputation as Vlad The Impaler, the prince of Transylvania (Luke Evans) is devastated when the Ottoman Sultan (Dominic Cooper) demands he turn over a thousand of his young men to fight for him in world-conquering battles. Vlad is determined to not let a single young man (including his own son) go, leading him to explore the dark cave of the local vampire (Charles Dance in terrific makeup) and seek help from his powers. The results are, naturally, devastating. The overall effort is far above the worst trash you have ever seen, and there are a few clever moments of chilly fun, but a lot of the visual effects backfire and it’s just not as fun as this kind of silliness should be. All opportunities for indulgence are avoided in place of the kind of safe nonsense that just about every action film showcases, while the inclusion of vampirism adds little to the proceedings.