A former child slave himself, Vlad broods over this predicament, attempts to "negotiate" with his Turkish terrorizer in a gesture of Obama-like reconciliation, broods again, then obligatorily strikes a Faustian bargain with a master vampire (Charles Dance) who resides in a nearby bat cave. Granted superhuman strength to slay his enemies, Vlad will revert to his human form only if he can resist sucking blood, a crisis of consciousness that, as delivered by first-time director Gary Shore, plays out across a series of mushy heart to hearts—and eyes to neck—with his wife, Mirena (Sarah Gadon), and incomprehensible battle sequences that, in their predetermined sense of momentum, suggest video-game cutscenes.
It isn't the desire for power or infamy, but the tragedy of familial loss, that pushes Vlad toward closing the master vampire's deal in the manner he hadn't originally planned. He thus corroborates the film's insipid commitment to giving Dracula the full-on Maleficent treatment. It is, though, worth mentioning the subtle, if dully solemn, thematic resonance of a shot of three wise monkeys lying on a table in one scene, as Vlad's transformation into Dracula is a rebuke to the more popular understanding of the pictorial maxim as a representation of a person's willful ignorance. But like the scene-stealing Dance, who cuts a mean figure as his ancient vamp delectably dances the long fingernails of his hand along Vlad's sword, it's a mere blip of inspiration in a muggy spectacle of uninspired CGI and hollow moralizing.
DIRECTOR(S): Gary Shore
SCREENWRITER(S): Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
CAST: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance, Diarmaid Murtagh, Paul Kaye, William Houston, Noah Huntley, Ronan Vibert
DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures
RUNTIME: 92 min
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