So, "Dracula Untold" is Coming…Why Am I Not Excited?

In 1995, I would find an excuse…any excuse to go to the movies. Specifically, to see Braveheart. It was  practically an affliction, since I never made it a habit to go to the movies on a regular basis. I needed to see it. I needed to have my heart ripped out of my chest. I needed to witness a Peckinpah inspired splatter fest. I needed to be swept up in the romance, and the soundtrack, and the story. It was a perfect movie. It’s a movie that was genetically engineered, meticulously built from the ground up to be an instant classic. Of course, this was made before Mel Gibson lost his mind, but more importantly, as I found out later, the movie is notorious for being riddled with historical inaccuracies. But, that’s okay. Hollywood has always taken liberties with adaptations of original work and history as it actually happened. So, who could complain when the film practically swept the Academy Awards, spawned years of parody, and resurrected a style of cinema long thought extinct?

Still though, if a story is engaging enough, are all the embellishments and tropes really necessary to tell a good story? Do you need to distort time, leave out certain details, add a mediocre soundtrack and get MichaelfrickinBay to direct, if the story is worth telling?

A movie about an unsung hero that helped Robert the Bruce liberate Scotland in the Medieval Era, might have been good enough for a film, but why not throw in a love story, and epic battle scenes to give it that extra zazz? Whaddya mean kilts weren’t invented yet? Timeline be damned.

A movie about 19th Century New York, and how its people shaped America for the next hundred years might have been epic enough, if you ignore the notion that the movie was based on flimsy source material and many conflicting stories. Who cares? Daniel Day Lewis is a god. If you aren’t a physical and mental wreck by the time the end credits roll, then you aren’t human.

“Back away from my milkshake, bub!”

A movie about the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor would have been intriguing enough…then you had to get Ben Affleck…then…well…you see where I’m going with this…MICHAELBAYSPLOSION!!!

No, it’s not the glut of vampire related “literature” polluting the bookstores in recent years that is repelling me from Dracula Untold. I mean, I would go based on the title itself; Dracula Untold. It sounds like every sparkly, pouty, insolent knock off of a blood sucker got their rent raised and forced to move to the sticks. Dracula Untold…sounds like someone peed in Edward’s Corn Flakes. It’s a strong title. It practically bullies me to go see it. So, why aren’t I?

A loyal son and brother who followed in his father’s footsteps and fought his entire life against foreign empires bent on taking over his land, a man who faced treachery from the ever changing political landscape as well as from his own brother, and whose brutal tactics made him legend through most of Europe and made him a national hero in his own country, that should be enough for a decent film. I mean, it worked for Mel Gibson, right?

No? Not enough?

We need to throw in the Bram Stoker myth? Yeah? We need to break out the fangs and mythical beasts? We really need to use the same effects they used in the first Mummy movie? You do realize that movie is over fifteen years old, right? Right? We need to recruit some actors from Game of Thrones to attract that market share audience? Yeah? We need to do all this because the formula says it would be certified blockbuster if you went this way? You say you don’t trust your audience? History is boring and myth is sexy? Throw historical accuracy under the bus again?

Figures.

I don’t know, maybe I’m not justified in my underwhelmed reaction to this movie. I’m sure it will pull in a substantial amount of cash and develop of fickle following of fanboys and maybe a contingency from Team Edward. It’ll probably do well, given the release date, and it will probably be forgotten about by Christmas. But, if my research on the subject is correct, Dracula is not the same person as Vlad Țepeș. I don’t have a problem with a movie that makes a backstory for the world’s most famous Monster. To be sure, if it were true to the myth while having fun doing it, I’d watch the hell out of that movie. The same goes for a Vlad biopic. Cast it right, write it well and don’t insult my intelligence while doing so, then I’m right on board. Bottom line, and I know it might sound snobby, I’d stand in line to see Only Lovers Left Alive than wait for Dracula 2000 to do a rotation on Spike TV.

Why I won’t see this is that I feel it does no service to its audience when a movie starts out with the intention to be based on historical events, and winds up being a cool-dude-walking-away-from-a-Michael-Baysplosion cliché. Do one or the other. They would both be fun/credible on their own merits. But, don’t mash them together and think you’re doing anyone a favor. This is the type of movie that kids watch, think it actually happened, unwittingly vandalize a Wikipedia entry, and flunk 7th Grade History.

Let me know what you think: Harmless escapism, or another in a long line of mindless, Hollywood drivel?

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