Dracula Untold review

Dracula Untold

Dracula Untold tells the ‘other side’ of the tale about Dracula. Sort of. Let’s have a look at this re-envisioning of the Dracula Myth.

Plot

The hero of this story is Vlad the Impaler. Many of you will immediately recognise that this is, in fact, the historical figure attributed with being Count Dracula. It should not come as a big surprise then, that this story tells of how Vlad became Dracula.

Vlad is a benevolent ruler of Wallachia, which is a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans kidnapped him as a child and trained him as a merciless killer. After years, the Ottoman sultan Mehmet returned him to the throne as a puppet ruler.

At the beginning of the story, Vlad hunts down some Ottoman scouts and finds their corpses in a cave with some kind of blood-sucking fiend. A nearby priests claims that the fiend is a very powerful cursed being, trapped there by magic. Then we learn that the scouts preceded Sultan Mehmet. Mehmet has decided that he will have more of the children of Wallachia, to train as a new generation of killer – including Vlad’s son.

You can guess the rest of Dracula Untold’s plot from there. Vlad rebels, but he is not strong enough to defeat the sultan. Where can he turn…?

Yeah, the plot is pretty bland and unimaginative.

Historical stuff

Vlad III did in fact rule Wallachia, and Ottomans did raise him. He also had a war with Mehmet II. However, Dracula Untold does not really tell the ‘untold’ story of Dracula. It tells a mostly made-up story. I guess ‘Dracula Made-up’ didn’t do well in focus testing.

Taking inspiration from historical events is fine, but completely messing them up is not very classy. Especially when you make the bad guys people of colour.

Mehmet was actually pretty lenient toward his people. The Turks did take children as slaves, and enrolled them in the army, but they were paid well and got good pensions. They came to rival the Ottoman aristocracy. Slavery is wrong – of course – but given that these slaves were better off than if they hadn’t been made slaves… I don’t know.

Vlad, on the other hand, is not known as ‘the impaler’ for impaling his meat before eating it. No, he impaled 23,000 Ottoman prisoners of war. Ottomans did raise him, but not as a slave. He was a political hostage and trained in science and philosophy. His younger brother – also a hostage – actually converted to Islam.

So, the plot was not just bland, but inaccurate, and possibly racist.

Characters

As I explained, the characters are not historically accurate. They are also pretty flat. Dracula is a good guy, forced to do evil deeds to save his son. Mehmet is just evil. The rest of the cast is… so forgettable none spring to mind.

The writers could have chosen to make Mehmet the benevolent ruler, and Vlad the anti-hero who is so damaged he plunges his country into war for being raised a prisoner. Unfortunately, they didn’t. They chose to combine an already bland plot with even less interesting characters, and it shows.

Unfortunately, the movie seems to focus most on the myriad ways to show clouds of bats.

Conclusion

If you like to watch clouds of bats whirling around, and Luke Evans brooding, this is a fun movie. By all means, grab some beers, and have fun with this movie.

However, if you want to watch a good movie, don’t bother.

Martin Stellinga Written by:

I'm a science fiction and fantasy author/blogger from the Netherlands