The Castlevania franchise shouldn’t be new to anyone. Even those who have never laid hands on a game controller should have some knowledge of Castlevania. It’s been a solid video game series for almost 30 years now. Well, a few years ago, the latest Castlevania game, Lords of Shadow, was released. This game took the story back to the beginning of the great war with the supernatural. The protagonist, Gabriel Belmont, led by a mysterious guide, must give up his soul to win back the wife that has been taken from him. Spoiler alert, he becomes the one and only Dracula.
Which brings us to Dracula Untold. Luke Evans plays the historical warlord Vlad the Impaler. He has long since given up his warring ways and wants to rule his small kingdom of Transylvania in peace. His uncertain alliance with the Turks is shattered when the Sultan asks Vlad for 1,000 boys from the kingdom (including his son) to fight for the Turks. Vlad retaliates in the only way he knows how, with bloodshed. He realizes that his actions will bring the destruction of his kingdom and he must make certain sacrifices in order to gain the necessary strength to defend his people and save his family.
This is basically the superhero origin story of Dracula. He slowly discovers new powers throughout, but is feared by the people who swore to defend.
We rarely see mention of the Vlad historical take in Dracula movies. Even here, it’s merely a reference to history which soon becomes a fantastical leap where one man can take on an army of thousands.
Now to link Castlevania to Dracula Untold. Long haired protagonist who has tried to absolve himself of his warring sins, is eventually given no other choice to finish his quest, than to give up his soul and become the prince of the night. Meanwhile, he is only a pawn of a more devious immortal being. I honestly feel that this shouldn’t have been called Dracula Untold. Had it just been “Castlevania,” the critics would actually call this one of the decent video game adaptations.
The majority of critics have torn this movie apart. I think that’s what actually helped me enjoy it. My expectations were incredibly low. I admit, the movie drags in the second act. However, it is the kind of medieval action movie that you’d find yourself watching with your dad when you both feel like watching a cheesy PG-13 flick. I mean that in the kindest way possible.
The aspect that really sells Dracula Untold is the dedication, especially on behalf of Luke Evans. He is fully-committed to the ludicrous-at-times script and gives it his all. He makes this movie more than it deserves to be.
If you’re looking for a October-themed movie, this one is clearly better than Annabelle. It doesn’t attempt to scare you. Rather it pulls off the Maleficent approach of creating a backstory of one of the greatest movie monsters. Except, unlike Maleficent, it’s not a complete train wreck.
Castlevania: Dracula Untold is a solid rental. It’s one of those 2 1/2 star movies that is harmless and pretty fun to watch. It kind of won me over.