BluRay/DVD Reviews

DRACULA

By • Mar 1st, 2007 •

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(Masterpiece Theatre/WGBH Boston Video) 2006
90 mins. approx / Widescreen / Not Rated

At home, I’m affectionately referred to as “the opposite critic” who will, from time to time, prefer a gushing-over fizzler to the guaranteed Oscar-winner or Summer Blockbuster. I’m not saying that those movies don’t deserve their entitlement, nor did I suggest that I don’t want to see them (I am looking forward to seeing Spidy in May and the Oscars are my favorite awards show!) It’s just that sometimes the hype outweighs the movie. But then again, if I’m a fan of a particular genre or movie, I’ll fight for it every step of the way to defend its “opposite critic” approved rating!

Vampires are my dark love, my first love… last year for a Halloween gift, my friend Barbara gave me a wine goblet that gives the illusion of being filled with thick, sweet blood. Yeah, I have the vampire bug, have had it for quite some time, and don’t see it leaving my gothic and darkly haunting dreams anytime soon. How happy I was, then, to be assigned the DVD review of Masterpiece Theatre’s recent version of DRACULA, a unique and sensual retelling of Bram Stoker’s 1897 classic horror novel that aired on February 11th at 9:00 PM on PBS.

All the vampy key and classic elements are laid in place. Ominous, yet strangely alluring cinematography heighten the dank, gloomy, mysterious castle where Count Dracula (Marc Warren) lies in the shadows…waiting to feast upon the warm and succulent flesh of his unsuspecting victims. The strikingly beautiful, elegant and romantic Victorian Era is fetching with its outdoor garden and ocean scenery, costumes, music and architecture. The doomed lovers-to-be, the heroes, heroines and the shrewd and diabolical villain, breathed exciting new life into Bram Stoker’s infectious masterpiece.

For the dashing and handsome Lord Arthur Holmwood (Dan Stevens) the comfort of wealth, a prominent career, beautiful estate and his young and sumptuous bride-to-be Lucy Westenra (Sophia Myles) are not all that has been bestowed to Arthur. An inherited disease, syphilis, which killed his mother at an early age, has now consumed his father’s life and will soon rear its deadly curse to Arthur, unless he can find a cure to cleanse his poisoned blood. Seeking out this cure will take Arthur to the darkest and most sinister place a man has ever encountered, leading up to betrayal, failure, and violent deaths involving anyone affected by Arthur’s cryptic discovery.

Lord Arthur Holmwood and Lucy Westenra (Dan Stevens and Sophia Myles); Mina Murray and Jonathan Harker (Stephanie Leonidas and Rafe Spall); Dr. John Seward and Abraham Van Helsing (Tom Burke and David Suchet) played their roles with sizzling fresh performances, oozy sexiness, and genuine likeability. Add to that stellar list the elements of seduction, lust, sexual tension, suspense, vicious acts of sheer evil and, mostly, the captivating performance of Marc Warren, who made me have provocative thoughts numerous times (pictures of figs flash before my eyes as I write this), with the fantasy of being his chosen dark angel of the eternal underworld.

Yet with all of that, I was slightly disenchanted with the development of some of the scenes that seemed to play out too quickly, with an accelerated editorial feel. Perhaps that was the intended purpose – a creative method of direction – but I was left with what felt to be stolen moments of what could’ve been crucial and clarity-filled scenes of interest. With that said, I didn’t have to bite down too hard on my bottom lip in fear of a disappointing ending—and that’s all I’ll say about that.

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