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October 10th, 2014

Movie Review - Dracula Untold

Dracula Untold

Starring: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance, Diarmaid Murtagh, Paul Kaye, William Houston, Noah Huntley, Ronan Vibert, and more.

Directed by: Gary Shore Written by: Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless Based on Characters Created by: Bram Stoker Cinematography by: John Schwartzman Music by: Ramin Djawadi

Premise: When the Turks demand Vlad adds a thousand children, as well as his son, to their yearly tribute, Vlad Tepes decides it is too dear a price to pay. Killing several Turks, he turns to Broken Tooth Mountain where he'd glimpsed something evil and very powerful. It is this power he hopes to gain to allow him to save his people. Yet the power has a cost. (Rated PG-13)


1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Luke Evans was perfect for the role - waxing from stern, to concerned, to loving husband and father, to hungry predator with ease. Charles Dance brought great presence to the Master Vampire. Sarah Gadon as Vlad's lovely and perceptive wife, made for a nice foil and wove in well into the themes of light and dark.

2) Special Effects - Thumbs Up: The film had a lot of nice effects. The different ways bats were used were very cool - both in the giant waves and the more personal combat moments. Some neat uses of dark and light as seen through vampiric eyes. The first vaporizing sunlight effect was fantastic. Some of the others weren't as well done, but still looked very good.

There's a nice scene done almost exclusively through the reflections of a sword. What I loved more was the POV being kept on the man holding the sword till his end. A very nice touch.

The art in the priest's book was fantastic! The detail was superb.

3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Down: Is this film in any way historically accurate? Not much. But the fact the supernatural would be involved does give a clue this would be the way of it, so it didn't hinder my interest. Bad writing, however, is a whole other matter.

Aside from Vlad, his wife, and son, there was no development of any of the other characters. The Turks were all cardboard villains. Those around Vlad about the same. And for one or two of them, if you blink while watching the film, you'd miss the only clue to their personalities that you were given.

There was nothing whatsoever to support the request for a thousand children. (If you have an army of over a hundred thousand strong sitting around, what difference would an extra thousand untrained soldiers make?) The fact Vlad and the Turkish ruler had been close friends made the whole thing that much harder to swallow.

Vlad has fought countless wars, created strategies, killed thousands before ever taking on supernatural powers - yet not once were any real tactics or thought, for that matter, ever presented by him. After the slaying of the first group of soldiers once he gained his powers, why didn't he fly straight to the main encampment and kill the ruler in his sleep? The main problem would be gone, his army and people thrown into disarray at the death of their leader, and if they didn't get the hint, he could have come back and slayed the lot without a single fellow countryman ever placed near the danger. I have more on this issue, but will stop here.

The next major affront was the ruler knowing how to combat supernatural Vlad. Since seemingly no one in the country of Transylvania knew about vampires except one priest, how the heck would the Turkish ruler have a clue? The Turks killed everyone they got a hold of. They didn't question or take any prisoners. The one they did take wouldn't hold told them, and didn't know all that much in the first place. And sadder still, they took a being with his incredible power, put him in a place that made him weak, and instead of having him step outside, pick up a spear, and using his magnified senses and superhuman strength to torpedo it through the cloth and into the chest of his enemy, you have him stay inside and "fight" it out. (Yes, they did do some cool things with visuals during that fight, but still...)  

And last, but not least, why the heck would Turkish scouts go to the most desolate mountain to scout for a possible invasion anyway? Now, if they'd mentioned the Turkish ruler having heard rumors of who was trapped there and wanted it investigated to see if he could give himself power, that could have been a fun angle. But, alas, no...

No real surprises or plot twists other than the delectable bit at the end. (Though I realized later that shot was all in sublight - so...huh????)

4) Stunts - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of fancy and destructive stunts by real people and CGI. Integration of both were pretty flawless, making for lots of combat fun. There is some shaky cam action, which always feels like a cheap tactic to me, but most of it wasn't, so that was good.

5) Locations/Cinematography - Thumbs Up: Lots of lovely sweeping views from above or panning shots over open fields in the day and the night. It all plays beautifully with the CGI bats. The land looks mostly unspoiled by people, making for lovely terrain shots and closeups.

My one complaint was the lack of Transylvanian/Wallachian style to the castle or monastery. Wallachia and other Carpathian locations have their own look and local flavor. Yet none of that really came across in the film. They just seemed typical, generic. Too bad.

Conclusion: If you turn of your logic circuits and possibly a couple of others, "Dracula - Untold" is an entertaining film. Some cool special effects and fight scenes as well as some great acting on the part of Lucas Evans, Sarah Gadon, and Charles Dance.

Rating: 3 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price To See Again.)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



(2015) Fantasy

The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

"What are you implying?"

The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


(2014) Urban Fantasy

It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


(2011) Young Adult – Fantasy

Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


“Do you need any help?” she asked. “Just tell me what you want me to do. If you prefer, I’m sure I can round up at least a few people to come over and give you a hand.”

Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

(2008) Young Adult – Fantasy
“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

(2004) Adult/YA – Fantasy Mystery
“He tried to forget his past, but his past wouldn’t forget him”


Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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