The Dark Universe may have sprung up out of nowhere and then ceased to exist almost as quickly, but Tom Cruise’s disastrous The Mummy wasn’t even the studio’s first attempt at relaunching their stable of classic monsters as the stars of big budget effects-driven blockbusters, although they tried pretty hard to sweep Dracula Untold under the rug.
As the most iconic vampire in history and the second most heavily-adapted fictional character ever behind only Sherlock Holmes, putting a fresh or unique spin on the well-worn tale of Vlad the Impaler is a tricky task, but first-time director Gary Shore gave it his best shot. Essentially a historical epic that takes a turn into the supernatural at around the halfway point, Luke Evans gives a solid performance as a legendary warrior and respected ruler who makes a deal with the dark side to keep his family safe.
Dracula Untold was a big swing but ended up being a miss, although you can’t help but admire some stunning costume design. It also at least managed to turn a profit thanks to earning over $217 million at the box office on a $70 million budget.
After filming had wrapped, a hasty epilogue was tacked on that shifted the action to the present day, presumably to leave the door open for Evans’ Dracula to become a fixture of the Dark Universe alongside Charles Dance’s Master Vampire. Instead, The Mummy director Alex Kurtzman disregarded the movie as canon and went about pressing the self-destruct button on the entire franchise, leaving Dracula Untold as a footnote in history.
However, it’s currently the fourth most popular title on Netflix around the world today as curious subscribers check it out in huge numbers, and though it’s far from perfect, it’s certainly got enough going for it to make it worth a watch.