Friday, June 4, 2010

#18 Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1993)

"A star studded, but ultimately disappointing film"

Our final Dracula movie this week is the Francis Ford Coppola film “Bram Stoker’s Dracula”. This is one of the more recent Dracula films, and the one I am most familiar with. While my reviews of Dracula and Nosferatu were my first screenings of those films, I have seen this particular film several times, the first of which being 5 years ago after I read the original novel. At first viewing, I rather liked the film, I was 14, and this movie was gory, erotic, and generally cool. Now, after having seen this film again, with perspective, and with a different sense of good and bad, I have different sentiments about this film.

The story in this film is the closest to the story of all of the movies here. The story begins with a prologue of sorts. It talks about where Dracula came from, how he was a Hungarian prince, who defends against the incursions of the Ottoman Turks. During the battle, his wife, his one love in the world, receives false information suggesting Dracula died in battle, and so, wracked with grief, she throws herself off a cliff. When Dracula finds out what happened, he forsakes god, and in the process, turns himself into a vampire. Cut to 1890s England. Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) is told by his boss to travel to Transylvania to close a deal with one Count Dracula, who has been buying up property around London. The rest you’ve heard three times now, and this film is essentially the same thing, just with more sexual moaning, more nudity, and more blood. The only other difference is Dracula is made more human, and there’s a love story between Mina and Dracula that plays a much bigger part. One thing I do like about the film is that, like the books, the film is told largely through diary entries, which I thought was a very cool effect.

I found the acting in this film to be rather spotty. On the one hand, Gary Oldman as Dracula is absolutely stupendous, one of the best Dracula performances ever. Keanu Reeves, on the other hand, is not so good. As always, Keanu Reeves is completely bland and uninteresting. Winona Ryder I found to be off and on. Sometimes she’s good, and other times she’s very campy. And Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing I found to be silly. I cringed every time I heard him say “Ja”. The shooting is absolutely stupendous. There are a lot of cool shots, and a lot of cool effects in this film: scenes such as Dracula climbing down the castle, and effects such as Dracula being green mist, or the shots with the old fashioned camera.

On the whole, I did not like this film. This is actually the first of the films on the list that I didn’t really like. That’s not to say the film is bad, I just didn’t find it good, especially compared to the other two Dracula movies. One thing that truly annoyed me about this film is the gratuitous nudity in the film. And don’t even get me started on the sexual moaning. This film definitely could pass as a porno, and when I’ve been watching a lot of movies that do these stories great without blood, violence, or nudity, it just feels excessive. Why is this film on the list then? I think it’s because of all of the big names in this film. Reeves, Ryder, Hopkins, and Oldman, added to by the biggest of all of them, Francis Ford Coppola, that legendary director. This, if anything, is the reason why, I feel at any rate, that this film is on the list.

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