In Dracula Untold, Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) becomes prince of Wallachia and Transylvania in the 1400s. He is a peaceful ruler who loves his family. However, he has to pay tribute to Sultan Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) and the Ottoman Empire. Vlad’s past with the Ottoman Empire is dark; he was a prisoner of the Ottoman Empire as a child.
Vlad and his soldiers discover a helmet in a stream, which leads them to believe there are Ottoman scouts nearby. The stream leads to Broken Tooth Mountain, and Vlad and his men encounter a creature with red eyes and pointed teeth-a vampire.
When the Ottoman contingent visits, Vlad assumes he wants the usual tribute, but Sultan Mehmed believes Vlad and his soldiers are responsible for the disappearance of 1,000 Ottoman scouts and demands 1,000 boys (including Vlad’s son) for the Ottoman Empire.
Vlad goes back to the cave to meet with the vampire and makes a deal to enable him to defeat the Turks, but the price is his humanity.
Although I did like this movie, Vlad isn’t the Dracula from Bram Stoker’s well-known novel. Eastern Europe has always interested me, so I like the historical setting of Turkey (the Ottoman Empire), Romania and Hungary. I find old stories told from a different perspective interesting; the idea that Vlad is motivated by love for his family and country is a good theme to work with. The movie was filmed in Ireland so the location and imagery is beautiful. The castle is appropriately dark and mysterious and there is lots of action.
There are potential problems with any attempt to put a new twist on old stories however. Although I like the historical setting, the dates for the Ottoman Empire’s conflict with Romania and Hungary aren’t accurate, but I don’t think the point was to be historically accurate. The movie is set in 1442, and Vlad was born in 1431, so he’d have been pretty young. I found the scenes with the Master Vampire somewhat confusing (although Charles Dance did a great job in the role). I understand the idea is for Vlad to free the Master Vampire by becoming Dracula, but there are some holes. Vlad’s connection with the Master Vampire isn’t clear, other than obviously he is someone Vlad goes to for help. But how does Vlad know who the Master Vampire is, where to find him, or that he can help? I did some research and found out the Master Vampire is based on a Roman, Caligula, who is supposed to be a vampire, but his tie-in with the story isn’t explored.
Overall entertaining but not deep or unique, and it’s not something I’d rush to see again.