This Dracula Begins–style sword-and-fangs curio plays like someone said, "What if we took a vampire flick but did a find-and-replace swapping out all that bare-neck sensuality for some video-game ass-kicking?" And so it was, and it was dull, the greatest villain in all cinema bitten on the neck and drained of his hottest blood.
Here's a Dracula who feeds for honor and ravishes no one but his own wife, who has to beseech him to do so. Within a single night, he murders a thousand-man army and manages to pig-stick each corpse upon a pike like an olive on a toothpick. Then he broods: This Vlad may be haunted by his deeds, but what's that count when viewers worldwide are expected to get off on them?
All this might sound pleasantly mad. The opening scenes are: Once Turks again demand Transylvania's children, Prince Vlad (Luke Evans) plunges into the blackest of caves to meet the great Charles Dance, here a master vampire, pale and skeletal in his bad-Jedi robes. This sequence is a creepy marvel. Its upshot: By taking of swig of undead blood, Vlad can gain unholy power for three days. If he makes it that long withoutt giving in to the urge to feed, Vlad will go right back to being human.
So it's a Faust story. But this Vlad is never tempted to want more power, and despite his CGI war crimes he never seems at risk of losing his humanity. Worse, Dracula Untold's resources -- of invention and money both -- seem to have been spent in that opening third, leaving the film's back half a muddle of hard-to-follow nighttime action.