Why did nobody see Dracula Untold?
I was in the theatre watching Dracula Untold (2014), but nobody was there with me. Nobody showed up and nobody I knew saw this movie either. To be honest, this movie felt like Underworld (2003), which wore out its welcome at the box office, and audiences are probably pretty tepid about seeing another one. Not to mention, this movie has no star power and no unique elements to make it a draw. There’s no mystery, no suspense, and no gothic atmosphere. It’s simply Underworld Lite, with Dracula, before he was Dracula.
I like the Universal monsters of the 30s and enjoy them still today. I know that modern audiences only find them mildly amusing. Maybe audiences are way too sophisticated for a simple retelling of The Mummy or The Wolf-Man, but it has worked in the past with the right director, the right cast, and the right mood. This is what made Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) a success, which is essentially a retelling of the novel.
The movie is directed by Gary Shore, in his first feature film. Every shot is traditional and the camera shakes to hide the gore, because this friggin movie is PG-13. Yes, that’s right, it’s a PG-13 Dracula movie, brought to you by a director with no experience and starring Luke Evans, who has made more headlines because of his sexuality than his acting.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) was rated R, but made more than enough money for people to call it a success. It was directed with style and had some of the most unique camera effects I’ve ever seen in a Dracula movie. Dracula’s living shadow looked amazing and felt scary and amusing all at the same time. Dracula Untold has no comparable camera effects, except one. Dracula controls a swirl of bats and obliterates an army marching toward a church, which blatantly rips off The Mummy remake from 1999, using bats instead of sand. I don’t get the decisions on this movie. Did they want this movie to succeed?
I think Sarah Gadon does a good job with what she’s given, but the script doesn’t provide her much. Other than her, nobody makes an impact. Dominic Cooper was said to be in this movie, but I couldn’t tell you where. Charles Dance plays the master vampire and I was wishing he was Dracula by the end, because at least he has presence.
This movie cost 70 million dollars to make, which is about 20 to 30 million too much. Where’d the money go? Effects? I guess they were counting on a PG-13 audience for the extra dollars, but it backfired. Nobody wants to see a PG-13 Dracula. As of this date, Dracula Untold has only made 88 million, which is a big disappointment, if you consider additional advertising dollars amounting to 50 to 60 million more. It’s going to struggle to make a healthy profit and catapult the Universal monsters into that shared universe the studio wants to establish. It isn’t going to happen, folks.
Dracula Untold is epic in scope and does have historical elements I liked. The castles, the costumes and the environments are great. They fit what they’re trying to do, whatever that is. The villain does his job being villainous and I didn’t mind a one-dimensional villain in a movie trying to be Underworld Lite. Luke Evans and Sarah Gadon interact a lot and they do a good job together. They should have had more Gadon, Evans, and Chase instead of stupid effects and a PG-13 movie.
All in all, this is a big disappointment. I could go on all day about how much I wanted this movie to be good. I wanted to see a good Dracula movie so badly. If you’re expecting gothic horror or a retro 30s classic, forget it. They wasted all their money, because Bram Stoker’s Dracula only cost 40 million total, which paid for Francis Ford Coppola, Gary Oldman, and an appropriate mood. In this one, the money didn’t help.