August 16, 2012

Dracula 2000 (2000)

"A group of thieves break into a chamber expecting to find paintings, but instead they release the count himself, who travels to New Orleans to find his nemesis' daughter, Mary Van Helsing."

One of the best things about having already reviewed a movie with a slightly different title in the UK is that I can review it all over again without messing up the way Blogger automatically assigns a URL to the post. An even greater thing is that, several years on from when I originally wrote that review, I now get the chance to write a better one which doesn't suck quite as much even if the movie itself still does.

Having rewatched "Dracula 2000", a movie directed by Patrick Lussier not Wes Craven (as the artwork on the Miramax DVD might fool you into thinking), I grudgingly have to admit that I sort of enjoyed it. It was still pretty bad, but maybe not quite as horrible as I may have led you to believe. It was certainly no worse than "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992) apart from all the blatant product placement for "Virgin", but it wasn't quite good enough to compete with "Blade" (1999). Let's face it, when it comes to vampire action-adventures, nothing can beat "Blade" anyway.

Dragging "Dracula" into the modern world has always been problematic for filmmakers. Although I love "Dracula A.D. 1972" and consider it to be the best of the Hammer "Dracula" movies , I'm the first to admit that it has a lot of flaws which would make it a "bomb" for the "real" movie critics. Similarly, "Blade: Trinity" (2004) was also quite a failure even though there wasn't a whole lot wrong with Dominic Purcell's updated character within the internal logic of the movie. In "Dracula 2000", Gerard Butler played Dracula very well indeed, but it was such a very different kind of Dracula that I don't think a lot of people were willing to accept it.

The thing is, I love vampire movies. It doesn't matter how lame and formulaic most of them may appear to be to other people, I'll usually still get something out of them. Vampires movies, unfortunately, are the least scary part of the horror genre and we can all count (no pun intended) the number of terrifying vampire moments which we've seen on the fingers of one hand. The fault lies in the source material since everyone goes back to Bram Stoker's novel for their inspiration even though it was more of an adventure than a truly horrific story even at the time he wrote it.

Thus, "Dracula 2000", as a re-working of the major elements in Bram Stoker's novel, suffered from being dated, clich├ęd, formulaic and, obviously, derivative of every other vampire movie which has ever been made. It wasn't as if everyone didn't already know this so, of course, it had a sense of fun about it and even some intentional comedy. I haven't watched the sequels yet to see if the same style continued (hopefully not), but the fact that it spawned two sequels means that somebody else liked it other than just Wes Craven himself.

My main reasons for liking "Dracula 2000" were as basic (or just base) as being very appreciative of the updated "bloofer" ladies. With Jennifer Esposito, Jeri Ryan and Colleen Fitzpatrick all fanged-up, how could anyone not enjoy this movie? They certainly made poor little Justine Waddell look plainer than one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's relatives in comparison. Trust me, now you have that image in your head, you will never be able to look at her the same way again.

As for the story itself, it was a bit silly, but what would you honestly expect from any Wes Craven produced movie which brings Dracula into the 21st century? How would you do it any better? I could happily lose the incongruously comic moments, but that's just my preference.

I hated the way Christopher Plummer pronounced "Dracula" as "Drah-coo-lee-ah" like a five-year-old child who misheard the name would, and I couldn't bear Jonny Lee Miller's fake London accent (he's from Surrey), but I can let those things pass since a Scotsman (who was yet to become a lot more famous) was playing Dracula.

The effects were good. There weren't enough of them, but, they worked. You don't need much more than a a load of fake teeth, some make-up and buckets of blood for a vampire movie anyway. The CGI, when it happened, was also okay.

I wasn't keen on some of the music. In particular, there was an awful rock band who appeared on a screen outside the Virgin Megastore. Dracula may have exclaimed, "Brilliant!" although, clearly, they weren't. There wasn't a lot else to the soundtrack other than crappy bands in the background so it was what it was.

There really isn't much more I can say about "Dracula 2000" since this is the second time that I've reviewed it. The mystery of Dracula's origins still seems very clever to me and I liked that, but, I'm still not going to change my rating much. "Dracula 2000" was a slightly below average movie when I first watched it, and it's still an entertaining yet slightly below average movie today.

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