Bram Stoker's Dracula This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   This movie is rated R. Those under 17 must be accompanied by an adult.

What do you think of when I say "Dracula"? A distinguished gentleman wearing a silly cape? A wolfish man-beast that lusts for the rich blood of humans?

Francis Ford Coppola, the director of Bram Stoker's "Dracula," sees the King of Vampires a different way. His Dracula is a cursed man who searches for true love.

Wait a minute, you say. True love? This grisly fiend who uses veins like soda straws?

Yup, Coppola proves with his new movie that Hollywood can take a perfectly good horror story and turn it into another assembly-line chunk of romantic rubbish.

In this "Dracula," a plasma recession in Transylvania makes the Count (Gary Oldman) look for another feeding ground. He finds London, and requests that real estate agent Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) tutor him in English customs. Leaving Harker in the desolate Castle Dracula, the vampire heads for England.

Once there, he falls in love with Harker's fiancee, Mina Murray (Winona Ryder), who bears a striking resemblance to Dracula's deceased wife. While courting Mina, he feeds off her best friend Lucy (Sadie Frost). Thinking she has some strange disease, Lucy's suitors ask the brilliant Professor Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) for help.

Van Helsing immediately realizes the cause of Lucy's malady and tries to save her, but he is too late. He then vows to hunt down and destroy Dracula forever.

Calling Coppola's film Bram Stoker's "Dracula" is misleading; Stoker never paired Mina and the Count as a love interest. Coppola's changes hardly do much to improve the film; actually quite the opposite. Dracula is reduced to a lovesick schoolboy and Mina gets lamely reincarnated from Dracula's wife.

Gary Oldman ranks as one of the best vampires ever. As the old Dracula, Oldman seems to almost be the embodiment of pure evil. His guttural accent and malicious laugh grate against your skin like a paring knife. Once he reaches London, though, Oldman is left with soap opera-like lines and a two-dimensional character.

The special effects are first-rate. Coppola seemed so intent on the visuals that he ignored the plot. Decapitations, elongating fangs, deadly mists and glowing eyes are all good effects, but do nothing for the movie.

Anyone who has not read the book will be dumbfounded by the number of names and places, half of which are never explained.

After the first half-hour, the film rapidly decays into a sappy love story instead of the tale of horror that was intended by Stoker. The characters are ignored, as are any attempts at a subplot.

Simply put, this "Dracula" bites. n




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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