Dracula Untold is certainly one of this month's most anticipated films; not just because it retells Dracula's origins by way of a stylized big-budget war epic, but also since it could be the first brick in Universal's rebooted Shared Monster Movie Universe. However, before we carry on about sequels and/or related upcoming monster movie reboots, we first need to see if Dracula Untold goes over well enough to warrant this iteration of the Dracula mythos being continued.
Luke Evans headlines Dracula Untold as Vlad Tepes, a noble warrior in 15th century Transylvania, who strikes a deal with dark supernatural forces in an attempt to protect his kingdom from an invading sultan (Dominic Cooper). The latest featurette for the movie focuses on the character of Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and her relationship with her husband, Vlad. In other words, if we're being technical, then Mirena is indeed the first bride of Dracula.
Will Dracula Untold be popular among the general moviegoing public? As was mentioned before, it's gearing up for a solid opening weekend take at the box office, though if the first wave of Dracula Untold reviews - we've included NON-SPOILERY excerpts from some of them below - are any indicator, then word of mouth might not be in the movie's favor.
Universal Pictures is clearly hoping to resurrect a character with whom they've been in business for some 83 years, but this fantasy-feeling effort delivers little in the way of scares, relying mainly on the charismatic presence of Welsh actor Luke Evans (Fast and Furious 6) to anchor the lackadaisical proceedings... [Much] like the recent, widely reviled I, Frankenstein, this misconceived project mainly signals a need to go back to the drawing board.
“Dracula Untold” is too high-minded to let go into the kind of energetic, B-movie escapism a director like John Carpenter or Paul W.S. Anderson might have brought to the same material, while the material itself is too thin to support the heavy-handed Wagnerian approach. The result is finally something neither here nor there — a vampire movie with nothing at stake.
[Gary] Shore’s directorial debut breaths new life into the genre, taking this story back hundreds of years, delving into the unknown origin story of the innovator himself, Mr. Dracula... The way Vlad craves blood is well-judged, as we see him battle his conscious; a far more intriguing and entertaining battle than those in the war zone, which are unvaried and monotonous.
As you can see, it's not all doom and gloom from the critics so far, but even the first positive Dracula Untold reviews out of the gate aren't exactly tripping over themselves to praise the film. We'll just have to wait and see how the general public takes to the movie, of course, since that may truly determine if this film ends up being included as part of Universal's new monsters movie universe - or, if it gets left out and Alex Kurtzman's The Mummy reboot winds up being the first official brick in that wall.
Worst case scenario - as has been mentioned before - is that Dracula Untold becomes to the Universal Monsters Universe what Green Lantern (2011) is to the incoming Shared DC Movie Universe. Hopefully not, though.
Dracula Untold opens in U.S. theaters on October 10th, 2014.