Movie Review: Dracula Untold – Gripping actioner

Film: Dracula Untold 

Cast: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Charles Dance, Sarah Gradon, Art Parkinson

Director Gray Shore

Dracula Untold is a tragic and gripping horror actioner which traces the origins of the blueblood who was transformed into the creature of the night immortalised in Bram Stoker’s Gothic novel which spawned numerous literary and cinematic avatars.

Directed by Gray Shore from a screenplay by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpeless, the movie straddles the legendary battles of the 15th century Romanian prince Vlad III against Ottoman Turk invaders gave him the moniker of Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans, impressive).

It’s clear he wasn’t always that way. As  a small boy, he and thousands of other boys from the Balkan  nations were torn  from their families and conscripted as Turkish janissaries (elite infantry units) Vlad III’s father was a member of  a loose “coalition” of Balkan  kings named “The Order of the Dragon” that was sworn to defend Europe from the Turkish invaders (dragon is the Romanian word for Drăculea, hence the name Dracula).

Somehow, Vlad had managed to return home as a war weary royal  longing for peace and freedom and deeply in love with his wife, Mirena (Sarah Gradon), and devoted to his only son, Ingeras (Art Parkinson)as much as  his kingdom and his people.

But peace is elusive. The new Sultan (Cooper) comes back for more Transylvanian children, along with Vlad’s own son, and will brook no resistance. The spiral of violence means any rebellion will result in greater repression. When people pray on bended knee Vlad tells them, “Prayers will not defend these walls.”

Back to the wall, Vlad seeks out a powerful vampiric creature (Dance, scary) dwelling in a mountain top cave to counter the Sultan’s threat. And so, to save his family, kingdom and people, Vlad makes a Faustian pact and sells his soul. Self sacrifice runs in the noble family’s veins. His son offers to go with the Turks but Vlad will not hear of it. Mirena is also selfless. In the end, Vlad sacrifices himself and his fellow-vampires. An anti-hero is born. Endowed with a great cast and spectacular special effects, Dracula Untold is a story worthy of its telling.

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