Monday, October 20, 2014

Action Hero

Spoiler Alert: This blog may contain information that will spoil your desire to see the movie “Dracula Untold”. I’ve waited a couple weeks to post this so 1) you would have a chance to see it for yourself, and 2) I’ve been so freakin’ busy I haven’t had a chance to write anything!

Anyway, you’ve been warned!


Truth be told, if I wasn’t a Pirate, I would be a Vampire!

As has been mentioned on several occasions before at “Banana Winds”, the Captain has long been a fan of all things Vampire, going back to the days of my childhood lying on the floor in my grandmother’s living room watching “Dark Shadows” on a small, black & white TV screen.  

Yes, while other children were playing “Cowboys and Indians”, I was biting people on the neck!

“I vant to drink your blood! Bleh, bleh-bleh!"

I have seen all of the classic vampire movies, as well as a few that will never become classic vampire movies...

Yes, I'm looking at you, Johnny Depp!

Needless to say, I perked up when I came across the latest offering to the vampire genre, “Dracula Untold”.

It looked promising.

So I was a little surprised when, after a friend asked how the movie was, I replied, “So-so.” I had to think about that for a minute. “So-so?”

First, there’s the “So”:

One of the things I really liked about the movie was that the writers actually did a little research into the history of Vlad Dracul III, the original Dracula. Then they mixed a little history with a little myth and came up with a pretty good product.

But then there’s the “so”:

The movie was not at all scary! This Dracula is not the creepy old guy in the opera cape stalking around in the shadows.

With all due respects to Mr. Lugosi.

And that's okay by me. But in an attempt to cater to target demographics, the writers felt the need to give us  a hunky, young vampire, throw in a sad love story, and deliver a whole bunch of Action Hero type stuff.


To its credit, this story was set in an historical time period, the mid-15th century. From childhood, Vlad was raised to be a fierce warrior. He earned his moniker “Vlad the Impaler” for the gruesome manner in which he displayed his victims.

As the movie unfolds, we find that Vlad has rejected his past and now strives to rule as prince over a peaceful kingdom. He pays an annual tribute to the Ottoman Sultan and hardly even has an army to speak of. He has retired his awesome Dragon armor – probably the best part of the movie – locking it in a closet in a (surprisingly well-armed) monastery.

But as so many such movies go, Vlad is pushed too far. His kingdom is threatened. What’s more, his family is threatened. So he sells his soul to the Devil – or, in this case, to the old vampire living in a nearby cave. He becomes an unstoppable force that single-handedly wreaks havoc on the Sultan’s 1,000-man army.

But the Sultan orders up another 100,000 men. And when Vlad’s wife dies, he goes into a rage. Unable to do anything before sundown, Vlad waits helplessly as most of his townspeople are slaughtered. Then he turns many of the survivors into vampires, and together they decimate the invading Turks.

Yes, there is a climactic fight scene between Vlad and Mehmed II, the Sultan, in the process creating a whole new twist on a vampire’s vulnerability to silver.

But wait... isn’t that werewolves?

Judging from all the shirtless scenes, I’m guessing we are supposed to like the young, hunky Vlad, portrayed by Luke Evans.

Sorry. Not the Captain’s type!

I’m also guessing that as Americans we are supposed to resonate with Vlad’s desire to live in a peacefully secluded kingdom. I don’t suppose it’s too big a jump to accept that a once-ferocious warrior now desires only to live in peace, make love to his beautiful blonde wife, and raise up his young son.

The Captain acknowledges that the will to do good and the will to do evil both reside within the same body. At some point we choose one or the other, but that doesn’t mean the other ceases to exist.

In today’s war-torn world, I sense more and more people are yearning for peace – if for no other reason than that we are growing weary of war.

But far too early in the movie I kept hearing the voice of another reluctant superhero: “Don’t make me angry! You won’t like it when I get angry!”

Ultimately, I’m guessing we were supposed to make the most obvious connection and cheer loudly when Vlad single-handedly wipes out the Ottoman Turks.

Read that “Muslims”…

Yep. War propaganda!

There is even a little warning about the danger of arming those you think are your allies! In the end, they will turn against you! 

Hmmmm. That sounds familiar too!

Good News / Bad News: The writers set us up for a sequel – fast-forward to modern day New York City, where the now 600-year-old vampire is still as dashing and handsome as ever!

I wonder why the old vampire back in the cave looked all pale and shriveled?

Nonetheless, the Captain ponders as to whether Vlad’s propensity toward blood and violence will even be noticed in the modern world.

Or will Vlad become the new Batman? Stalking the city at night... saving the innocent... slaying the evil-doer? 

I sure hope not!

But at least he doesn’t sparkle…