Ok, another Dracula film. Granted, it's Wes Craven, but still... another telling of the same old Dracula tale, right? Nope, not quite. Oh, it had enough of Bram Stoker's original tale in it to feel somewhat familiar, it had the same general cast of characters, but hey... if Dracula showed up in modern-day, chances are he'd do things the same way as before, being a creature of habit as well as of the night. Read on, McDuff, a decent film is a-foot!
The film begins in London, showing the scene of Dracula's arrival, more as a means of setting the tone of the film, really, than for any plot motivation... then moves immediately to the year 2000, same locale. We meet the son of the original Professor Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer) and his two able-bodied assistants, Simon (Johnny Lee Miller) and Solina (Jennifer Esposito), who works as a curator of antiquities (what else, right?). After a brief insight into the relationships of the three, the scene moves to New Orleans, Louisiana where we meet Mary and her friend Lucy (that name should be the tip-off to that relationship, eh?) where they both work at a Virgin record outlet as sales clerks. Mary is having the strangest dreams, it seems, and is heavily medicated to try to combat them.
This review will be shorter than most because I don't want to give any more of the plot away, as it is NOT merely a remake of every other Dracula movie since 1917, it is a story that is an homage of sorts to the original, while at the same time firmly staking (punny, eh? ;) out its own place in the vampire genre. I will talk about the rest of the film, however, while trying not to give too much away.
Christopher Plummer gives the film a scent of credibility as the representative of the Van Helsing line in the movie. He has the clipped german accent mastered in the Sound of Music, but this guy could have given Von Trapp lessons in discipline and command. Johnny Lee Miller is, as he has been for some time, a very good addition to the cast, showing that he, unlike some actors who spring to mind (*coughcoughkevincostnercoughcough*), can keep his accent throughout the entire film. I'm not sure if he's American and he's just a really good linguist or if he's English and I'm overly impressed for nothing. Either way, his acting in this film was superb. Justine Waddell ("Mary") was excellent as the focus of Dracula's attentions, with a very expressive face. Likewise, Omar Epps and Jeri Ryan are good in their supporting roles.
But my pick of the film goes to Gerard Butler ("Dracula")! He plays the old guy with all the flair of Bela, all the style of Langella and all the finesse of Oldman. His delivery is menacing and powerful, his body language simply screams prestige and command, and his movements, while somewhat altered by the camera and special effects, are supple and feline in their stalking grace. He doesn't ham the role, nor does he limit himself to what others would have considered a "safe" range. And the surprise of this films "creation myth" is worth the price of admission.
I give this film an A- for its worth and ideas. It was typical of Wes Craven in some aspects, but overall he made a fine film worth seeing. (Two of my three viewing companions yelped, jumped and covered their respective eyes more than once during the running, so it's a good date movie. :)