Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dracula: The Dark Prince – review

Director: Pearry Reginald Teo

Release date: 2013

Contains spoilers

Not to be mistaken with the year 2000 semi-biopic, this is a film that snuck out on VoD and a Walmart only DVD release.

The problem, however, is it is about the same level of quality as a SyFy original – which is a shame really because setting a vampire film in a fantasy location (believe me this is nowhere near a historical film, fantasy would be the best description for it) is too little often done.

The film cast Prince Vlad Dracula (Luke Roberts) as our vampire and the opening scenes that build the background for us heavily borrow from Dracula (1992), though there are some differences. The Prince, who is beloved of his people yadda, yadda, yadda is a direct descendent of (the biblical) Abel and when his bride Elizabeta (Kelly Wenham) dies it is at the hands of his own advisers. Dracula turns against God, slaughters them and layers the cross with their bodies whilst renouncing God.

Kelly Wenham as Alina
Jump forward a century and a carriage is being escorted through the Romanian night by a group of crusaders. The creatures are coming and so sisters Alina (also Kelly Wenham) and Esme (Holly Earl) are told to ride ahead with a box containing the lightbringer (I’ll explain that shortly) and meet up with Leonardo Van Helsing (Jon Voight). The knights fight against undead creatures known as the Scourge, who are led by a black Knight called Wrath (Vasilescu Valentin), and the good guys are slaughtered.

Ben Robson as Lucian
Meanwhile Esme and Alina arrive at the rendezvous but Van Helsing is not there. They hear movement and are surrounded by a group of brigands led by the charismatic Lucian (Ben Robson). They steal the box containing the lightbringer (the girls defence of it being rather unimpressive given they are demon hunters in training). So as not to lose it Alina offers to pay the brigands if they give them passage to the next village. Lucian agrees.

the lightbringer
At a camp Lucian breaks into the box and discovers what looks like an old walking staff. The girls, who you wouldn’t trust on a secret mission, blurt out that it is a holy relic and the only thing that can kill Dracula. At that point Van Helsing appears but the Scourge arrive also. The brigands are being decimated but Lucian touches the lightbringer with a hand covered in his own blood and it suddenly transforms into a scythe with whirly blades. He, the girls and Van Helsing beat off the Scourge but Alina is kidnapped by Wrath.

Stephen Hogan as Renfield
So Alina is taken to castle Dracula where she realises that Dracula isn’t all bad, after all she is the princess reincarnated. This does distract the Prince from his duty as evil overlord, which irks his servant Renfield (Stephen Hogan). Meanwhile, as well as meeting up with a random Norseman called Andros (Richard Ashton), Van Helsing, Lucian and Esme try to find the magically hidden castle to rescue Alina and destroy Dracula’s evil reign.

Jon Voight as Leonardo Van Helsing
So lightbringer, apparently it is the first weapon, the weapon that Cain used to kill Abel. Lucian is of Cain’s bloodline (hence him being a thief as Cain’s descendants are all murderers, brigands and thieves, just as Abel’s are all royalty) thus it works for him. The logic of Cain’s weapon being able to destroy Dracula because of his ancient bloodline was interesting and almost too clever for its own good. When it starts with nifty devices such as a compass that points to Dracula and the ability to dispel the castle’s illusionary camouflage we really begin to wonder as the cleverness falters and stupidity overtakes it. Making the descendant of Cain the vampire hunter was pretty neat though.

after sun exposure
Dracula is the font of the region's undead and so when he rests they heal. If bitten by a vampire you have three choices; pray for a quick death, drink his blood and serve him or, if you don’t get his blood, become Nosferatu – a twisted creature in eternal agony. Sunlight kills, turning the vampire to stone and then they crumble. Dracula’s only weakness is the lightbringer but, should he get it, he can use it to end death on Earth and make everyone undead.

Luke Roberts as Dracula
As I say the tone of the movie is SyFy, as for the acting... The girls do what they can with what amounts to two pretty shoddily drawn warrior women. Luke Roberts works well as the misunderstood Dracula but pretty poorly as the monstrous creature. Stephen Hogan is literally channelling Wormtongue. A lot of the film is built in cgi, its ok but it does show. I kind of feel it wanted to be castlevania but didn’t quite work out how to be epic. Nude boobs on show, for titillation purposes, just seem gratuitous. The film wanted to do something different, kudos for that, but it seemed to throw a lot in the mix, gave it a quick shimmy and hoped for the best. Its best was about 4 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.


Kuudere-Kun said...

I notice you haven't covered any Video Games yet. I suppose they are more difficult to familiarize oneself with just to mention them for a review on a blog.

While Castlevania is obliviously the first Vampire video game to come to mind. For an Honorable Mention or Vamp of Not I think the Redeads from Zelda Ocarina of Time are noteworthy. They tend to be classified as Zombies first and foremost, but when they attack Link they clearly seem to be sucking the life from him via his neck. And they are frozen by the Sun Song.

In Final Fantasy the only offensive White Magick attacks tend to be most effective against being classified as Undead, which includes Vampires, Zombies and Ghosts of various kinds.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

I have mentioned the odd one in passing (fallout 3 for instance) - but as I don't game on consoles a lot have passed me by.