Dracula-untoldDracula Untold, the latest installment in Prince Vlad’s vampire folklore, goes from the improbable to the impossible. Director Gary Shore, who started his career directing commercials before transitioning to feature film, does a great job of redeeming the dark prince and taking him from his natural anti-hero state into a repentant hero, but the script could stand for a partial blood transfusion.

There is always a suspension of disbelief when one enters into the supernatural world but one vampire (Dark Prince or not) versus an army of 1,000, or even a handful of vampires versus an army of 100,000, toes the line of ridiculousness. Vlad’s dilemma to fight the expansive Turkish army and lead his people into certain death rather then give up 1000 boys into slavery is gripping, as is his sacrifice to a dark force in order to prevail, but this redemptive element ultimately transforms the Dark Prince into the Fresh Prince.

While Dracula has always been an anti-hero tale with deep, pernicious roots in darkness, this prequel into Vlad’s transformation from a Prince into a sanguinary demon with a serious sunlight allergy, takes a warm and fuzzy approach into the hero realm. The now repentant Vlad the Impaler, forced as a child to become a bloodthirsty warrior by the Turks, returns to his homeland in Transylvania to rule his people in peace and be a devoted father and husband.

Any Dracula tale would garner comparisons to movies that have come before it and one that most closely resembles it is the 1992, Francis Ford Coppola directed Dracula, starring Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins and Keanu Reeves. Coppola dutifully stayed true to the classic Bram Stoker melodrama with a secure supernatural stake in darkness, evil and ruin.

In Bram Stoker’s original tale, it’s the one redemptive love Vlad seeks which ultimately conquers even his most base desires and rekindles his humanity. It is evil laid bare with no apologies or excuses to make it more manageable for audiences to enjoy or accept. This unqualified, raw element is lacking from Dracula Untold.

Luke Evans, the Welsh actor from Fast and Furious 6, Immortals and The Hobbit, is an indefectible choice as the face of Vlad Tepes in the Untold version. He compellingly embodies the struggle of light versus dark and good versus evil and his swarthy, rugged features and warrior’s build are ideal.

Vlad’s virtuous, blond wife, Mirena, is played by Sarah Gadon, whose character choice is reminiscent of a Disney Princess. Dominic Cooper as Mehmed, the Turkish Sultan / warlord, is executed seamlessly. He is the quintessential bad guy born to garner audience disdain.

Dracula Untold glimpses into the 21st century in the last moments of the film. The hint of this story seems far more intriguing than the previous hour and thirty-two minutes of film, which becomes a long-winded set-up for this sequel. The present film appears doomed to mediocre film purgatory, making a resurrection for this captivating sequel unlikely.