The Master Vampire (Charles Dance) is the scariest part of Dracula Untold.

The Master Vampire (Charles Dance) is the scariest part of Dracula Untold.

Reel Reviews: Swords and sandals flick has fangs

New film about Vlad the Impaler, Dracula Untold, is like 300 with vampires.

  • Oct. 19, 2014 6:00 p.m.

Lord Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans) of Transylvania has problems. The Turks and their sultan keep trying to invade.

During the last battle in which he took part, Vlad was attacked by some otherworldly creature that has left its mark on him, and now the sultan wants 1,000 Transylvanian boys in trade for peace.

When Vlad refuses the sultan, the leader of the Turks makes it 1,001 to include Vlad’s only son.

Rather than keep the peace, Vlad chops off a few more heads, keeping his son, but starting a war. In order to ensure victory, Vlad returns to the mysterious cave where he was attacked by the unknown being. There, an ancient vampire sells Vlad on the gifts of immortality with amazing power. Vlad accepts, hoping to become invincible in battle, but will the price he pays for them prove too great?

We say, “Dracula Untold is like 300 with vampires.”

TAYLOR: This is not a horror film. The picture you see here, of the creepy old vampire in the cave, is the scariest thing in the whole film. This is not an exaggeration of an opinion, the fact of the matter is that Dracula Untold is an action film. It is a war movie with all the real or imagined problems associated with war, for a warrior with a people, a family and a penchant for killing. The more horrific aspects of the story, the vampirism namely, become background to a tale full of stabbings and explosions.

While Vlad’s appreciation of his curse is unique and interesting, it is not given the attention it deserves.

HOWE: After seeing the trailer for Dracula Untold for the last six months or so and getting totally fed up with it, I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this film. Yes, it’s very comic bookish. Some of the acting was terrible and the fight scenes between man and vampire are a little naff, yet there was something that glued it all together and made it a semi-decent movie. It reminded me of Highlander with Christopher Lambert.

TAYLOR: Enjoyed is a strong word, but I’ll agree it is a semi-decent movie. I thought it was overly noisy, with lots of clanging metal sounds for no reason. There’s also a lot of whispered lines. It’s all over the place, loud, flashy, it might be pretty, certainly expensive, but it’s a shallow film trying to tell an epic tale. It needed 20 more minutes of heart and fewer accoutrements. I wanted to care; the film made it impossible.

HOWE: I thought some of the special effects were pretty good, especially when the swarms (or is it flocks?) of bats went into battle, I haven’t seen that before. The old vampire in the cave was pretty creepy. Plus, it looks like we are going to be getting a part two. Yippee for us.

– Taylor gives Dracula Untold 2 fang holes out of 5.

Howe gives it 3 silver coins out of 5.

The feature is currently playing at the Galaxy Cinemas in Vernon.

Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears in The Morning Star Friday and Sunday.