Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Dracula Untold

Year 8, Day 278 - 10/4/16 - Movie #2,460

BEFORE: One more day on the vampire beat, before I move to another monster topic.  I happen to know one of the writers of this film, he used to date my sister back in college.  I'm not sure where he's been working the last couple of decades, because there's a big gap in his IMDB credits.  But maybe that's typical for a writer, there could be long stretches of down time between projects that get produced.  

Linking from "The Lost Boys", Edward Herrmann was also in "The Cat's Meow" with Ronan Vibert.

THE PLOT: Young prince Vlad Tepes must become a monster, feared by his own people, in order to obtain the power needed to protect his own family and his kingdom, which is being threatened by the Turks.

AFTER:  There was an impaler named Vlad, 
who history says was quite mad.
But compared to the Turk
Who was more of a jerk, 
Hey, maybe this Count wasn't so bad.  

I never thought I'd see the day, where a film felt the need to "explain" Dracula, his reasons for becoming a vampire - turns out he had a darn good reason.  Oh, well I suppose that makes everything OK, right?  I mean, kill a few hundred Turks and thousands of peasants, impale their heads on pikes, as long as you've got a darn good reason.  My boss recently made a mockumentary about Adolf Hitler, something that cast him as a misunderstood wanna-be animation mogul, along the lines of Walt Disney, and I can't help but notice the correlation.  So, Dracula had good intentions, and was just misunderstood?

For the third film in a row, I'm bogged down in the minutia of vampirism, the little rules that make the whole system work, or not.  Vampires are weakened by silver in this film, in addition to the aforementioned holy water, garlic, crosses, wooden stakes - geez, is there anything that doesn't hurt a vampire?  And for the third night in a row, we learn that there are degrees of vampirism, as Vlad becomes a half-vampire before transforming into a full vampire - he drinks a vampire's blood, and then if he can resist the urge to feed on more blood for three days, and you just know that's going to be difficult, then he will lose the strength and other powers and revert to human.  

There are other catches as well - if he gives in and drinks more blood, then the vampire who gave him powers will be freed from his curse, and released from his cave.  It seems there can only be one major vampire at a time, but this sort of contradicts other vampire stories, where the goal is to make more and more vampires, and form something like a high-school gang. #vampiresquadgoals ?

Vlad made the deal in the first place with this cave-vampire in order to get the power he needed to defeat the Ottomans, who demanded 1,000 young Transylvanian boys to turn into soldiers.  Actually, make that 1,001 because the head Turk also wanted to raise Vlad's son.  It seems Vlad himself was raised by the Turks, so there's something of a rivalry between the two kingdoms.  It's not really clear whether Transylvania was part of the Ottoman Empire at the time, or whether the sultan was within his rights to demand such a sacrifice.  A little research tells me that the real Vlad Tepes was a prince of Wallachia, but was treated as a puppet by the Turks, at least for a while.  

The movie Vlad gets super action-hero powers, like super-speed and dexterity, and the ability to take down a whole Turkish army by transforming into a flock of bats, so hey, what's the downside?  Who needs an immortal soul when you can be a total bad-ass on the battlefield?  But it turns out the army was something of a distraction, to keep Vlad busy while assassins entered his castle to threaten his wife and son.  For revenge, he turns a bunch of his people into vampires - which admittedly does seem to be a roundabout way of protecting them. 

But then the Turks don't stand a chance, and the only problem is, what are they going to do now with an army of vampires, and nobody to feed on?  Oh, if only they knew someone who was good at impaling things...but what good it is, wishing for things we can't have?  Wait a minute...

NITPICK POINT: It's a little unclear where the name "Dracula" came from - here it's the name of a castle, but how does that relate to the family name, Tepes?  It's suggested that it means "Son of the Dragon", but commonly mistranslated as "Son of the Devil", but then Vlad himself uses the "Son of the Devil" moniker at the end, in conjunction with the name.  Did he just get tired of correcting people, or was he lying about that whole dragon thing?  And who names themself after a castle, shouldn't it be the other way around?

NITPICK POINT #2: The tagline on the poster reads "Every Bloodline Has a Beginning", which implies that we're going to learn how vampirism came to be a thing, like maybe Dracula was the first one - but instead he just gets his powers from drinking another vampire's blood.  So how did THAT vampire get his powers, and how did the one before HIM get his powers?  That's not really the beginning of anything, then, it's just a continuation.  And who was the first vampire then?

Also starring Luke Evans (last seen in "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies"), Dominic Cooper (last seen in "My Week With Marilyn"), Sarah Gadon (last seen in "Maps to the Stars"), Charles Dance (last seen in "Woman in Gold"), Art Parkinson, Paul Kaye (last seen in "Match Point"), Diarmaid Murtagh (last seen in "The Momuments Men"), Noah Huntley (last seen in "28 Days Later..."), Zach McGowan (last seen in "Terminator Salvation"), Ferdinand Kingsley, Joseph Long, Thor Kristjansson, Jakub Gierszal, Joe Benjamin, Paul Bullion, Mish Boyko, Dilan Gwyn, Arkie Reece.

RATING: 4 out of 10 missing Turkish scouts     

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