Director: Gary Shore
Cast: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon
Release Date: Now Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack & DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7/10
Disc Rating: 9/10
For almost a century, the legend of Dracula has mesmerized audiences with the story of a charismatic royal who feasts on the blood of innocents after the sun goes down. Dracula Untold reveals the man behind the myth in the thrilling, action-packed tale of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (Luke Evans – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Fast & Furious 6), who makes a terrifying deal with a supernatural ally that will allow him to save his family and his country – at the cost of his soul.
Exploring the previously unexplained roots of how the most well known vampire in history came to be the creature that he’s known for, ‘Dracula Untold’ begins with Vlad, a well meaning prince who not only cares deeply about his wife and son, but all of his people. When the feared Sultan demands Vlad’s own son as a Royal Hostage (just as Vlad himself was for decades) in addition to a thousand of the people’s children to be trained and seasoned into mindless warriors willing to kill or die without any hesitation, Vlad takes desperate measures to protect both his family and his people. Granted a dark gift by a murderous and feared ‘monster’ in a cave, Vlad is provided a glimpse at the powers of the creature and granted all of these gifts for himself for three days, at which point he will revert back to his old self. Now he must win a war for the ages in three days in order to save his people, in addition to avoiding a powerful bloodlust now consuming him, otherwise he will be cursed to remain this way for eternity.
Gary Shore makes his feature directorial debut with ‘Dracula Untold’ from a script written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, both first time scriptwriters themselves. Shore does an impressive job with his first job as director (excluding one short he directed previously) and this film is actually quite adequately constructed and executed, better than I would have ever imagined; a fact even more surprising and impressive when considering all of the first time talent involved in crucial roles behind the scenes. The film also benefits from the performances, namely that of Luke Evans (Furious 6, The Hobbit 2 &3) who I’ve really come to appreciate as an actor over recent years and he delivers a pretty solid performance here in the lead (and title) role. The rest of the cast is no disappointment either, including more than adequate performances from Sarah Gadon, Charles Dance, Dominic Cooper and a number of others.
‘Dracula Untold’ is a surprisingly well constructed, action-packed good time; a great popcorn flick that certainly surpassed all of my expectations. While admittedly those expectations weren’t overly high to begin with, I still found this film to a pleasant surprise in just how much fun it really delivered. It looks great, is surprisingly violent and includes some gorgeously shot battle sequences that are incredibly enjoyable. Fans of the film will definitely want to pick up a copy of the Blu-Ray release to add to their collections; it includes impressive high definition video and audio presentations, along with a number of great bonus goodies including Deleted Scenes, Audio Commentary and more (more detailed information regarding the bonus content can be found in the special features section of the technical specification coverage below) which many are sure to appreciate. For those who haven’t yet seen the film, if one evening you’re simply looking for 90 minutes of action-packed fun and not a complex and intricately weaved storyline, I would definitely recommend giving ‘Dracula Untold’ a shot.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘Dracula Untold’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty impressive, especially considering how much detailed activity is frequently occurring on screen throughout this movie. The characters, movement and background details all look sharp and detailed, even the numerous battle sequences and those involving a plethora of bats swarming about hold up quite admirably with nothing but miniscule artifacts or other mostly unnoticeable elements briefly appearing on occasion. All in all, a pretty top notch high definition video presentation that should more than please most.
The Blu-Ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack which delivers an incredible amount of fun. This lossless multichannel soundtrack is incredibly active, consistently utilizing all five channels to their fullest extent and surrounding the viewer with everything from dialogue and battle screams to bats flooding every possible angle, growling and the films score, providing an impressively detailed and accurate soundtrack that sounds discrete and pretty wonderful as a whole. This 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack definitely gets top marks and is also probably the most notable aspect of this Blu-Ray release.
The Blu-Ray release of ‘Dracula Untold’ includes a pretty decent collection of bonus content. Included on the Blu-Ray release is Feature Commentary with director Gary Shore and production designer François Audouy, plus a number of Deleted Scenes (approximately 13 minutes worth in total) and an Alternate Opening, all of which also feature optional Commentary with Shore and Audouy. Also included is a number of Behind the Scenes Featurette’s that explore numerous aspects involved in bringing both the film and this take on the character to life. The Featurette’s include: ‘Luke Evans: Creating a Legend’ (which runs approximately 19 minutes in length), ‘Day in the Life: Luke Evans’ (approximately 10 minutes), ‘Dracula Retold’ (approximately 7 minutes), and ‘Slaying 1000’ (approximately 5 minutes). Last (but certainly not least) we are treated to ‘The Land of Dracula’ which consists of an interactive map that takes the viewer deep into Dracula’s world. It should also be noted that a number of the included bonus content is Blu-Ray Exclusive and therefore will not be available on the DVD release.
*Please note that the above images are taken from the Blu-Ray and resized. They additionally will suffer quality loss as a result of .jpg compression. Larger versions of each image can be viewed by clicking on the image. All images and content included on this Blu-Ray release are the property of their respective owners.