Bram Stoker's Dracula

Rated: R
Runtime: 2 Hours and 10 Minutes

Reviewer: Dale
Grade: A

Aside from the fact that it ends a bit too abruptly, not letting us get a chance to unwind after its big climax, I would have to say that you couldn't possibly hope for a better Dracula picture than this one.

The film begins with something that I, personally, have never seen before: the origins of the first vampire. It also ties the story in with the whole "Vlad the Impaler" thing that I have been reading about for years. You know what I mean: the stories about Vlad the Impaler, known as Dracul, that Bram supposedly took the name of his famous bloodsucker from? Well, Dracul leaves his beautiful bride (Winona Ryder) to go fight in the Crusades. He defeats the Turks and returns home, triumphant.... only to find that his bride, believing rumors of his death, has killed herself.

Vlad is, understandably, pissed. He has fought for God and now he returns home to find that God has let this happen. He renounces his faith, turns to Satanism, and becomes a vampire. During the course of this movie, I discovered that being a vampire seems to be the Satanic equivalent of being a Born Again Christian. You drink blood, you die and are born again. The only problem is that after that you can't eat anything with garlic in it, your fingernails get real long, and you have a problem with mirrors and crosses and you're not too big on sunlight.

But other than that, it's all shits and giggles.

After the whole renunciation thing, the story skips ahead to the familiar tale: Dracula is planning to move to London, to be on the cutting edge of things, and then he discovers that his wife has been reincarnated as the fiancee of the man who has come to put all his estates in order. This provides him even more reason to go to London (and, as I watched Winona Ryder run through the wind in a flimsy nightgown while obviously not wearing a bra, I did not blame him at all). So he has his "wives" (a bunch of hot, naked vampire chicks, see, I told you that you couldn't ask for more from this movie) keep her fiancee occupied while he goes to London to take the man's lady.

The plot takes a back seat however to the performances and the visuals, which will literally make the eyes pop out of your head. Coppola has never been this experimental, this audacious with the editing or with his camera. The sets and costumes (or the lack thereof) are absolutely gorgeous. The music weaves a hypnotic spell over the whole thing, hooking you and mesmerizing you.

And then there are some really great performances also. Winona Ryder, who I have never gotten really enthusiastic over, is quite good in this movie. And she actually has chemistry with Gary Oldman, who takes the role of Dracula and sinks so deeply into it that you will forget that anyone else ever played the role. He is a force of nature in this film, and not a very nice one. He is evil with a capital E, yet you see where he is coming from. You understand
Dracula and see what makes him tick. There are a lot of terrifying moments coming from him, but there are a surprising amount of sympathetic ones as well.

And Anthony Hopkins is as good as always as the coolest vampire hunter in any movie that I have seen. "Blade" was cool, I am not denying that "Blade" was cool. But did he have the charisma, the coolness, the accent of Anthony Hopkins? Nope. And let's not even bother comparing the two on a level of acting talent. Please. That's beneath us, isn't it?

Yes, there are some hokey moments on display here. I don't think you can make a movie about Dracula and sidestep all the hokey moments. And yes the ending is a bit sudden, and it has an Annie Lennox song over the credits. Where the hell did this come from? I mean, I like Annie Lennox and thought it was a good song, but... Huh? But it is well-acted, often chilling, mesmerizing, beautiful to look at, well-edited, fast-paced, brilliantly conceived and it has a scene where a naked woman has sex with a wolf.

What more do you want?