Review: Dracula (1992)

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Here’s a thought, how about we don’t just stand there and do nothing while the pretty lady darkens the skies for Dracula, how’s that sound Dr. Van Helsing!

Screenplay By: James V. Hart
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola

I am a fan of the vampire genre in all forms of media. I won’t hide the fact that I revere the Dracula character. It is for that main reason that despite all its faults I still manage to enjoy Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, but I wouldn’t call it a good film. There are many ways that you can go with vampire films, and undoubtedly emo wounded lover is one of them, but it just isn’t Dracula. It’s not a real knock against the film, but I was already having problems with it when I felt like I was watching an episode of Moonlight as opposed to a movie about Dracula.

There’s something to be said for Keanu Reeves in Dracula, I’m just thinking of a way to say it politely. But, I’m not a gracious man and I can’t stay cordial on this matter, he sucked. I’m not even a Keanu basher, I’m really not, but he was playing a California surfer in 1800’s Victorian England, so you should be able to surmise how bad he was. Even actors like Gary Oldman and Anthony Hopkins who are usually bright spots in any film they appear in manage to overact quite badly on numerous occasions. They weren’t bad like Keanu, but they were doing their best to make sure they were as over the top as possible, and just, ugh, that’s what I have to say to that.

The area of most concern in Dracula would be the story, or lack of a story. It’s just, ya know, how about a story that makes freaking sense. Why is Dracula buying up ten plots of land in London? Why does Renfield matter beyond the obvious? Give me something to work with, some kind of intelligible story, that’s all I ask. But, in Dracula that was asking too much, because there was a story, it just happened to be all over the place and not of the intelligible type. Even the score that impressed me for the most part ends with an Annie Lennox song over the credits that made me shake my head in shame, because Annie Lennox is not Dracula, she isn’t even Dracula as seen in this film.

For as much as I didn’t like about Dracula, I did very much like the look of the film. The costumes, set design and directorial style helped add to my enjoyment of Dracula. Not as much as a naked Monica Bellucci mind you, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. I also liked the climax, up until the whole, “kill me” bit. While the story may have been lacking, Coppola did do a nice job of building to the climax so that the carriage chase is tense. Of course, it did also feature my bite line, as Van Helsing stands around like a dope while Mina summons a storm to cover the sun, and ya know, he may have wanted to try and stop her, just a thought! But, it’s only fitting that a mixed bag film like Dracula would have a mixed bag ending sequence.

Dracula doesn’t match-up to any of the well known great vampire films, it doesn’t even match up to the Buffy Vs. Dracula episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I know it sounds like I’m bashing Dracula, but it is disappointing that a film by such a great director about a favorite subject matter of mine ended up missing the mark in so many ways. The subject matter helped me to enjoy this film, but that probably won’t be enough for most people. I’m not about to recommend Dracula to anyone, if you want to see a good Dracula film, this isn’t the one for you, even if I did enjoy it.

Rating:

**1/2

Cheers,
Bill

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