Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dracula 2000 (2000)

Who's in it?: Gerard Butler (300, RocknRolla), Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country), Justine Waddell (Mansfield Park), Jonny Lee Miller (Dead Man's Walk, Mansfield Park, Eli Stone, Elementary), Vitamin C (The WB's Superstar USA), Jennifer Esposito (Samantha Who?), Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager), Omar Epps (Major League II, House), Danny Masterson (That '70s Show), and Nathan Fillion (Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, Firefly, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Castle).

What's it about?: A hundred years after the events of Bram Stoker's novel, Van Helsing (Plummer) and a freshly resurrected Dracula (Butler) search for the woman (Waddell) who is the legacy of them both.

How is it?: Much much stronger than a movie called Dracula 2000 has a right to be. I love how it makes itself a sequel to the novel while expanding the mythology in cool ways. I say that it makes itself a sequel to the novel - and it mostly works that way - but there is a weird flashback to Dracula's defeat in the 19th Century that doesn't exactly match up with the way Stoker described it. It's still a cool defeat though. And Van Helsing's method of prolonging his own life into the 21st Century makes sense.

I also love the explanation of Dracula's origin and how it ties together and justifies some of his classic weaknesses. It's a clever bit of speculation and world-building that reminds me of some of the stuff White Wolf Publishing used to do with vampire history in their Vampire: The Masquerade role-playing game, tying vampires back to the Mark of Cain in Genesis. Without going into detail, Dracula 2000 has its head in a similar place.

The cast is pretty great, too. Plummer is the tired, but determined Van Helsing. Miller is his tough, but sympathetic protégé. Butler plays a sultry and dangerous Dracula. And Waddell is the frightened and confused woman who has to figure out how she's connected to Dracula and Van Helsing, then rise to the challenge of finding her own place in the story. Add to all that cool, smaller roles for Esposito, Epps, Masterson, Ryan, and Fillion and you've got a super watchable story.

One thing keeps me from loving it more, though. Mary is obviously a Mina-like character, which is fine, but her roommate's (Vitamin C) name is Lucy Westerman. That's a tough coincidence to swallow considering that Lucy Westernra is also a person who existed in this world. It's a small thing, but it pulled me out of the story when her name was revealed.

Rating: Four out of five Marys


Anonymous said...

I originally found the reveal of Dracula's true identity a bit off-putting, but after beginning to take a more active interest in adaptations of Mr Stoker's Magnum Opus one finds it a bit of a relief after so many creators insist on sticking to the 'Count Dracula was Vlad the Impaler' take on this particular Legend.

While the latter idea is a perfectly decent approach, one would prefer that it not be the default - one of only two major disappointments I can cite against DRACULA UNTOLD is that it sadly failed to show a three cornered duel of wits between Vlad the Impaler, The Grand Turk and the Master Vampire (who, in this take on things, would have claimed the title of Count Dracula as a prize of war); the other should be readily apparent to anyone who has seen the end scene of DRACULA UNTOLD with it's delightful hint of more Count Dance-cula to come (and thoroughly disappointing decent into Mina/Dracula; MINA/JONATHAN for Life & Beyond the Grave!).

This is, admittedly, triggered by my abiding delight in seeing Mr Charles Dance do his usual scene-stealing job of being a thoroughly intimidating fellow (I'd claim to be disappointed at never seeing him cast in the role, but he's been asked to play it in just about every other film he's been cast in and probably deserves a break!) yet even so surely DRACULA Vs THE IMPALER practically writes itself?

Also Ms. Sarah Gadon needs to be added to the list of possible Mina Harkers - partly because I genuinely think she'd suit the role very well, but also because I may be a little enchanted by her screen presence and nursing a desperate desire to sing under her window despite being less than musically gifted. . .

Paxton said...

I was aware of this movie and I always wanted to watch it. I want to like it but so much of it seems like I'm going to hate it. But you've convinced me to give it a shot.

Michael May said...

I think you'll dig it, Pax.

Anon, I've got a post coming up on Dracula Untold and I'm also taking your earlier suggestion to just do a whole post about fan-casting the novel, so I'll save those thoughts for later.

But as a fellow Charles Dance fan, I highly recommend the Amazon series The Widow, if you haven't seen it. He's in it and very dangerous, but using his menace powers for good. One of my favorite roles of his.

Anonymous said...

I'll have to see if I can get a look at Mr Dance being 'more Batman than Dracula' as it were; I'm also looking forward to seeing your post about Fan Casting DRACULA (fair warning, if I like it as much as one expects to my comments may become more Voluminous than a drunken Volstagg played by Mr BRIAN BLESSED). (-;


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