|Star:||Christopher Plummer, Johnny Lee Miller, Justine Waddell, Gerard Butler|
|Cert / Year:||15 - R / 2000|
A gang of thieves led by Marcus (Omar Epps) break into a hi-tec vault belonging to an antique dealer. After gaining entry to a secondary vault inside the remains of an old abbey which is inside the vault, the crooks discover an old silver coffin. After setting off some boobytraps that would make Indiana Jones cringe Marcus and the rest of his team escape, with the coffin. The vault that they broke into was owned by Matthew Van Helsing within his "Carfax Antiquities" building. Yep you guessed it, the abbey sealed within the vault was Carfax Abbey and the contents of the silver coffin instead of being treasure is certain death (or un-death) in the shape of Count Dracula. After escaping his recepticle Dracula hunts down Mary Heller (Justine Waddell) whom he hopes to take for his bride, but who also happens to be Van Helsing's daughter. With the help of his junior partner Simon (Johnny Lee Miller) Van Helsing must stop Dracula once and for all and save the life of his daughter and put an end to Dracula's dark legacy that has cursed his family. For generations?....
Okay so it's another one of my damned vampire movies, but what the hell I like them. Anyway, that aside Dracula 2000 to use it's original name seeing as we in the UK are a liitle behind with the release, is yet another reworking of the classic Bram Stoker tale of the accursed Count Dracula. The film has a minute homage to the original story in that it begins with the Count's journey to London on the "Demeter" from Varna, and that is where it stops and begins to deteriorate. The story shoots from London in 1897 to 2000 and the offices of Matthew Van Helsing's business "Carfax Antiquities". The opening to the film isn't too bad and it begins to unravel a reasonable story. But then it starts to get silly and instead of embracing the original story and working with it as was done with so many of the other 200 or so Dracula movies. It attempts the unthinkable and that is to rewrite itself and insert a sickeningly religious/Biblical angle. Which although the idea may well have seemed terribly clever in the minds of the writers, namely Joel Soisson and Patrick Lussier it detracts from the whole mythos surrounding this character and merely appears to serve a pretty disappointing ending. With modern vampire movies, such tinkering with legends and so forth is reasonably acceptable but it is a completely different matter when the primary subject of the film is the "original" so to speak.
Despite the film being set in the modern day (or night) it lacks the over all gothic feel that it requires and even when Hammer Horror made modern Dracula movies they adhered to a degree of gothic resplendence. Which for me is a major stumbling block with this movie as it possesses no real horror and is significantly lacking in both atmosphere and tension. I would have to suggest that this film would have been better if Wes Craven had written and directed it himself and not entrusted it to the editor of his Scream Trilogy. Wes Craven has the experience and skill to have made this a great film, even though the film is at times stereotypical of his particular brand of horror. The attractive young women that tend to drop like flies is almost standard and the attack inside of the plane is very Wes Craven in style but there it ends and lacks dreadfully.
A modest cast provide mediocre performances on the whole and Jeri Ryan is one of the worst offenders. She seems like window dressing in the film and her depiction of a vampire is startlingly similar to that of a poutting Borg drone without the bio-mechanical implants and a bit of a camp streak. Jennifer Esposito fares a little better with the harrowing role of a vampire babe and even appears to act now and again before her transformation if that is what you can call it (taking off her glasses and wearing a loose dress does not make an effective vampire). Gerard Butler has one or two brief moments as Dracula but he lacks the essential "prescence" required for the role and makes him almost laughable as the bloody Count. Christopher Plummer provides an excellent performance as Van Helsing, even if the script does screw around drastically with the philosophy and motivation of his character. Johnny Lee Miller plays a good part as Simon, Van Helsing's assistant and steals one or two of the best lines of the film whilst enjoying an almost father and son chemistry with Christopher Plummer . Justine Waddell although more typically seen in "period" or dramatic roles is strangely alluring as Van Helsing's daughter Mary. There is something about her in this role that just works so well, maybe it is the fact that she can actually act. However she like the rest of the cast are dogged by some terrible script and occasionally bad direction.
The direction of Patrick Lussier is far from faultless but he inconsistently manages some good photography and captures some good action choreographed by Koichi Sakamoto (Drive) and Ken Quinn. The film contains some fantastic use of CGI and has some all round good effects throughout which is a bonus in addition to the rock soundtrack featuring Slayer and Linkin Park. The alleged plot really skates on wafer thin ice and the director obviously attempts to run before he can walk resulting in a film that is a little tacky to the more erudite amongst us. Essentially this has to be one of those films that you watch with a few mates over a few beers when you have nothing better to do or watch. It is a shame that two renowned names for horror are besmurched by it, namely Wes Craven and of course Dracula.
I am hard pressed to label the film as Horror as it is hardly horrific or unnerving and far from frightening, you would have to be terribly meek to be scared by this crypto-religious horror non-entity. That may well have been the desire of the film makers as it plays out like any of the multitude of teen slasher flick's available as opposed to a vampire horror movie which for all intents and purposes it should be.
Maybe I am being a little harsh on the film, I know that I may be a bit of a traditionalist concerning Dracula but for me I found this irksome film very tame, a little lame and on the whole unchallenging. Francis Ford Coppola made a better movie with Bram Stoker's Dracula .
|2:35.1 Anamorphic||Decent sharp image|
|5.1 Dolby Digital||Excellent|
|Dull static menu|
|A fair but a bit boring Behind the scenes featurette.|
|Mind numbingly boring commentary track by director Patrick Lussier and screenwriter Joel Soisson.|
|4 Deleted Scenes|
|3 Extended Scenes|
|Set of 8 storyboards|
|Series of poor quality film shorts taken from the main cast's auditions||Not exactly a bad disc for extra's but like the film, it could certainly have been better.|