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Dracula Untold

It's always fun to go into a film with an expectation it's going to be schlocky and being surprised by a cast and writing that elevate the material and deliver beyond your expectations.

DRACULA UNTOLD is one of those pleasant surprises.

Prince Vlad (Luke Evans) has ruled over a peaceful land for years, surrounded by a loving wife, son and citizens. The visually riveting opening of the film shows us that Prince Vlad spilled a lot of blood to gain that peace, but the current times are idyllic.

When the Turks arrive and demand 1000 young men as soldiers, Prince Vlad finds himself at odds with the Turks leader and boyhood friend Mehmed (Dominic Cooper) and the peace is shattered.

Vlad is suddenly in a position in which victory can only be negotiated by bargaining with the demonic Master Vampire cursed to remain in the nearby mountain.

What follows is an interesting spin on the Dracula legend that we all know, but twisted "Wicked" style to reveal hidden motivations and heroism that paint our Prince Vlad in a very different light than Bela Lugosi's traditional Count.

Both Evans (The Hobbit Trilogy) and Cooper (Captain America) are terrific and Charles Dance (Game of Thrones' Tywin Lannister) brings power and elegance to the Master Vampire role.

It all plays much better than it sounds and it goes many places I didn't expect. The conclusion is especially intriguing.

Universal is rebooting their classic monster films and this is a strong start. Fans of Francis Ford Coppola's terrific 1992 version will note that this film either rips off or pays tribute to some key styles of that film, but its done so well, I'll call it a tribute.

What a pleasant surprise. Much better than it has any right to be, DRACULA UNTOLD has some stylish bite and gets a B.

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