Luke Evans is a perfect Dracula in Dracula Untold. That has to be a huge relief to fans of the story that first truly took a popular culture shape thanks to Bram Stoker's book. Of course, casting the lead role in any movie is merely one piece of the puzzle -- although it is a pretty big check mark considering the legend at the center of the Gary Shore-directed origins story.
Dracula Untold begins with a brief history of the era where Turkey and Transylvania have had a fragile peace that usually involves Transylvania turning over thousands of their young boys to serve as soldiers in the budding empire’s army. One of those was Vlad Tepes (Evans). Through sheer violent and savage soldiering, he would become known as Vlad the Impaler and eventually be sent home to rule as Prince of his Transylvanian people.
We truly meet Vlad as a husband to Mirena (an astounding Sarah Gadon) and father to a young boy. He has been away and discovered something truly terrifying that has been killing Turkish scouts. Of course, the Turks think it's Transylvanians that are doing the killing and our story is set up for our (anti) hero to have to make the ultimate choice and sacrifice.
The leader of the Turks, Mehmed (Dominic Cooper), wants another group of thousands of boys, including Vlad’s son, as payback for the loss of his scouts. As you see in the Dracula Untold trailer, Vlad refuses.
He’s out-manned. He’s out-gunned. And his family is being pursued with a price on their heads. What’s a medieval prince to do? Visit the monster (Charles Dance) that’s been killing those Turkish scouts and become what he is -- a monster who is a human blood-sucking beast that has superhuman strength, speed and can wipe out an entire army with one blow.
There are several things that are truly impressive about Dracula Untold. The fact that Shore is a first time director is beyond surprising. The film manages to inject the emotional pull so that we truly understand why Vlad would make the choice he made, out of love for his family. And then there are the action sequences, which are shot with such aplomb and power, it is a thrill ride normally reserved for the summer months.
But, Dracula Untold arrives in October and that, in fact, makes much more sense. The film could be the first in a series and we think that Universal is hoping to reboot its monster properties (Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy) that made those scary creatures pop culture icons.
Our Dracula Untold review finds that watching Evans as Dracula is as tasty as the sweetest Halloween candy treat… except -- dare we say -- it’s even more thrilling and will probably stay with you a lot longer.
Evans nails the father part of the role, the husband part of the role and especially the nobleman with a checkered past who simply wants peace for his people part. Might we say, you may never look at Dracula the same way again. And we suspect, that’s just how Universal wants it.