Dario Argento’s Dracula

Note: Normally, I would avoid spoiling movies in my critiques, but in the case of Dario Argento’s Dracula, I’m going to spoil the hell out of it.  Enjoy.  Pink=sarcasm.  Just so you know.

Released: 2012, 2013(USA)

Directed By: Dario Argento

Movie Trailer

Rated: Unrated

Thomas Kretschmann: Dracula
Marta Gastini: Mina Harker
Asia Argento: Lucy Kisslinger
Unax Ugalde: Jonathan Harker
Rutger Hauer: Van Helsing

As film fanatics, we get to witness some of the greatest spectacles in movies: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Ben-Hur, and 2001: A Space Odyssey.  But some of the most spectacular movies happen to be total train-wrecks.  You  want to, but you just can’t look away.  Movies like Ghost Rider, Remo Williams, or anything by Ed Wood qualify as complete disasters.  There’s much to be said for Dario Argento’s career as a filmmaker.  He’s directed top-notch thrillers like Susperia, Tenebre, and Deep Red.  However, some of his more recent outings have been less than……solid, as it were.  Mother Of Tears was an absolute disgrace.  Argento’s worst effort by far, however, is his telling of Dracula.  I’m a huge fan of the character.  He’s been played by some of the greatest actors in film history: Bela Lugosi, Frank Langella, Christopher Lee and Gary Oldman.  All of them did an amazing job.  So how did this one get derailed?

Dario Argento’s Dracula begins as a young woman is having a night out with a local friend, and when she starts home, she is attacked by what seems to be an….owl.  A horribly pixelated owl.  Some time later, an accountant by the name of Jonathan Harker(Unax Ugalde) is hired by Dracula(Thomas Kretschmann).  Dracula takes notice of Harker’s wife, Mina(Marta Gastini), seeing as how she resembles Dracula’s old flame.  Harker disappears, people are attacked and mutilated and their only hope is Dr. Abraham Van Helsing(Rutger Haur).  “Help us Van Helsing, you’re our only hope!”  Oh, man.  I’ve seen some pretty bad movies before, but this almost takes the cake.  Where do I begin?  Let’s start with the Italian cast.  I’m not going to lambaste Italy’s actors, because I truly believe that Italy has some fantastic actors and filmmakers.  But in this movie, they suck(get it?).  Harker is supposed to be an Englishman, so why does he have an accent that isn’t British?  I know Keanu Reeves sucked as Harker, but at least he attempted the accent.  We even have a few really talented actors in this film, Thomas Kretschmann, Rutger Hauer, and Dario’s daughter, Asia.  The acting is truly schizoid.  It’s either completely over-the-top, or there’s no effort put into it at all.  Kretschmann underplayed the character at times and completely went psycho at others.  At least it looks like he tried.  Rutger Hauer on the other hand, doesn’t seem like he wants to be there.  His delivery is completely flat.  It’s a shame, because Hauer gave us incredible performances in Ladyhawke, Blade Runner, and Hobo With a Shotgun.  He’s an extraordinarily talented actor but he does worse than phone it in here.  I think the character of Dracula would’ve been a little bit better if they didn’t dub over Kretschmann’s voice, which is very obvious.  I honestly think that Hauer’s voice may have been dubbed over as well.  I’m not sure about that, though.

Story-wise, it barely follows Bram Stoker’s story-line.  It doesn’t even take place IN Transylvania.  That opening sequence definitely wasn’t part of the original story.  Neither was Jonathan Harker’s death.  Yes, Harker dies in this movie.  He gets turned into a vampire and he gets killed by Van Helsing.  If Argento was trying to be shocking, he failed miserably.  It was one of the dumbest things I’ve seen.  Speaking of dumb, check this out:  When Dracula abducts Mina, he turns into….rats?  Nope. Werewolf?  Wrong.  Pinky Pie from My Little Pony?  That would be hilarious, but no.  He turns into a….bug.  But he doesn’t turn into just ANY bug, but a praying mantis.  I had no idea that Dracula was so talented he could transform into a horrendously CG-rendered….insect.  Apparently Argento couldn’t afford to have Dracula turn into bats, rats, or mist either, so Dracula turned into a swarm of….more insects.  He turns into bees.  “NOT THE BEES!”  The CG is spectacularly lame.  I haven’t seen visual effects THIS bad since Uwe Boll’s House of the Dead.  Actually, they’re worse, and that’s pretty bad when you can say that Uwe Boll’s movie has an advantage over one of Dario Argento’s.

Is there anything worthwhile about this movie?  Uhhh…….the music when the credits roll is kinda neat.  Would watching Van Helsing impale one of Dracula’s underlings on a poorly rendered spike count?  No?  How about when the credits roll? Yes? YES!  I win! I win!  What did I win?  Certainly not the hour and a half that I lost watching this thing.  But some of the visual effects were done practically, so there’s that.  It doesn’t feel like a consolation prize.  Seriously though, I understand that Dario Argento’s Dracula is a very low-budget movie, but everything STILL feels extremely cheap.  From the sets to the costume design, it’s like Argento either didn’t bother putting any effort into this film or he was hamstrung by the film distributors.  If anyone attempts to compare this movie with Francis Ford Coppola’s movie, they need to be slapped silly.

I honestly could not stop laughing after the film ended.  This is a movie that deserved to be on Mystery Science Theater 3000.  If you really must see this movie, here’s what you do: Get some friends and some stuff to get drunk on, and then pop the movie in.  Otherwise, stay as far away from this stinker as you can.  It’s really, really bad.  It’s also boring, too.  I’d rather watch Keanu Reeves play Jonathan Harker 24/7.  This sucker deserves a stake through the heart. 2/10.

Preview-Star Wars: The Force Awakens

In 1977, a relatively unknown filmmaker by the name of George Lucas released something to the public that would change the way we look at movies and how they are made.  Star Wars was released to enormous success, so much that it broke records.  This was a film that ushered in a new age of science fiction and fantasy.  No one had ever seen anything like it before.  Sure, 2001: A Space Odyssey influenced many movies, but it was Star Wars that lit up people’s imaginations.  With unique characters such as Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Darth Vader, Star Wars became a world-wide phenomenon.  2001 notwithstanding, Star Wars is one of the most influential movies ever.  It had great characters, a great story, great music and astounding visuals.  It was revolutionary.  For a fairly low-budget picture, Star Wars garnered such a following that merchandise like toys and books were being made.  Following the original film’s success, work began on the sequel: The Empire Strikes Back.  The resulting film actually ended up besting A New Hope in almost every way, and is what many consider to be the greatest Star Wars movie ever made, and it’s hard to argue that point.  Capping off the Original Trilogy is Return of the Jedi.  While not the strongest entry in the series, it’s still an amazing achievement and had amazing action sequences that capped off the greatest movie trilogy.  Here’s an interesting tidbit: George Lucas had originally written treatments for nine movies in total, but he only made six movies.

The Prequel Trilogy began in 1999 with The Phantom Menace, continued with Attack of the Clones in 2002, and concluded with Revenge of the Sith in 2005.  The Prequel Trilogy, while successful wasn’t as critically acclaimed as the original movies, even though Revenge of the Sith took a big step in the right direction.  But shoddy writing and over-use of CG animation, really made the Prequels seem kind of generic and not nearly as memorable.  A few years back, George Lucas sold his company and Star Wars to Disney.  When that happened, they announced a bevy of new Star Wars movies, including the beginning of new film trilogy.  People had been hoping for years to see a sequel trilogy.  In December of 2015, that is exactly what we will get.  Directed by J.J Abrams, the new Star Wars film: The Force Awakens will be released to audiences world-wide.  Today, the first teaser for the film was released:

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m stoked.  It’s a year away, but if this teaser is any indication, The Force Awakens is going to be a hell of a movie.  It’s being directed by a huge fan of the series and features the return of Han Solo(Harrison Ford), Princess Leia(Carrie Fisher), Luke Skywalker(Mark Hamill), and Chewbacca(Peter Mayhew).   The teaser doesn’t show a whole lot, but seeing the Millenium Falcon again sends chills down my spine in a good way.  The Force Awakens could very well be the movie event of 2015.  There a lot of movies coming out next year, and this one just shot up to the top of my list.

Previews of Upcoming Movies

Alright, for these posts, I’m going to be posting news and preview trailers for upcoming movies.  I’m going to be doing multiple movies per post.  These are movies that look very interesting to me.  Let’s get the ball rolling.  For my first preview:


I’m a huge fan of the Mad Max films, except for Thunderdome, let’s not talk about that one.  Mad Max tells the tale of a former police officer in the post-apocalyptic wastelands of Australia.  Max is wandering the wastelands after losing his wife and child to chaos.  The original films starred Mel Gibson as Max, and helped put Gibson on the map.  Mad Max: Fury Road has been in development for years, but it now looks like it’s finally going to see the light of day.  Starring Tom Hardy as Max and featuring the talents of Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult, Mad Max: Fury Road looks likes a very intense ride.  The previous films were known for their car chases and wild stunts, and this film looks to continue that tradition.  Helmed by George Miller, the director of the original Mad Max, Fury Road looks like it’s going to roar into theaters on May 15, 2015.  After years of delays, it looks like it’s really coming together.  I’ve got my fingers crossed for this one.  Please don’t suck.  Please don’t suck.  Warner Bros is releasing the film.


Now this one is a surprise.  I had heard there were issues with the production, but judging from this trailer it looks absolutely incredible.  Set in the future where Earth is just a tiny part of a larger intergalactic economy, a young woman learns that she is being targeted for assassination by the Queen of the Universe.  Starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis and Sean Bean, Jupiter Ascending sets course for the stars on February 6, 2015.  Directed by The Wachowskis of The Matrix Trilogy, this movie looks to become another epic film in the grand tradition of Star Wars.  If the Wachowoski’s play their cards right, this could be a major hit.  Or it could be the biggest box-office bomb since John Carter.  It looks awesome enough.  I hope they get it right.  Warner Bros is also releasing this film.


In 1993, Jurassic Park was released to audiences world-wide.  Featuring state-of-the-art CGI and visual effects,  Jurassic Park became a cultural phenomenon.  Based on the best-selling book of the same name by the author, Michael Crichton,  Jurassic Park gave us a glimpse into what could have been a very unique theme park.  Jurassic World takes place 22 years after the events of the original film.  John Hammond’s(The late Sir Richard Attenborough)vision of a park with live dinosaurs has come to fruition.  Featuring Guardians of the Galaxy’s Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, Jurassic World stomps and chomps its way into theaters on June 12, 2015.  My analysis:  While the first film was incredible, the sequels really didn’t quite live up to expectations.  The films were fun, but they lacked the heart and soul that the original film delivered.  I’m still disappointed that Jeff Goldblum isn’t in this movie.  So sad.

2015 is shaping up to be an amazing year for movies.  While I’ve shown three of the movies that will be released next year, the line-up is impressive: The Avengers: Age of Ultron, the oft-delayed Seventh SonFurious 7, Mission Impossible 5, and the film that moviegoers have been waiting for, and will get it’s own post on this site: J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens.  I’m absolutely stoked for what next year has in store for us.  I hope you guys will be excited too.  This is my first post for upcoming movies, so I hope to have more for you folks in the coming months, along with many more reviews.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

As a kid growing up, some of my favorite cartoons were GI Joe, He-Man, and the greatest of all: Tranformers.  Transformers featured cars that would turn into giant robots and it was glorious.  The original series lasted three seasons and had a movie that changed things up for the third season.  That movie was released in 1987.  It featured a kick-ass soundtrack, an awesome visual style, and a decent story to boot.  But I’ve always wanted to see a live-action version of Transformers.  Steven Spielberg granted my wish in 2007 with the release of the first live-action Transformers film.  Directed by Michael Bay, it was a major box-office smash.  As a result, the movie spawned three sequels.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is the fourth live-action entry into this explosive franchise.  It jettisoned Shia LeBouf’s irritating character in favor of Mark Wahlberg’s Cade Yeager, a wannabe inventor, who discovers an old truck in an abandoned movie theater.  Taking it home, he discovers that it’s actually Optimus Prime, who is in hiding from the CIA, headed by Kelsey Grammer’s Harold Attinger.  Attinger believes that all the Autobots and Decepticons are a major threat to the security of the United States so he’s hunting them all down.  Let’s be honest here: If you’re going into a movie like this expecting a grand story on the level of King Lear, you’ve come to the wrong movie.  The story here is completely disjointed and incoherent.  It really doesn’t make a lick of sense.  It doesn’t really matter anyway considering what’s happening on the screen.

A lot of critics had complained that the previous films didn’t have enough Transformers action and focused too much on the human characters.  It’s certainly a valid criticism.  But here, Michael Bay really let loose with the Transformers.  There’s definitely a lot of action in this film.  The special effects have never been better.  Bay seems to have eased up a little on the hyper-editing that he’s known for.  We can actually see what’s going on this time around.  There’s also plenty of big explosions, which I happen to like.  But there’s a bit of a problem here.  The movie is just too damn long, and it’s filled to the brim with action.  There are few moments where you are allowed to breath before something else gets blown up.  It’s overkill.  I’m generally not one to complain about a movie being loaded to the hilt with action, but Age of Extinction takes it to the extreme.  For a film that runs nearly 3 hours, Age of Extinction is….tedious.  That’s really the only word that can describe it.  I described the importance of film length in my previous post, so I won’t go into it again here.

The writing is just flat-out awful.  It’s pretty mean-spirited.  Humans have turned against the Autobots and are hunting them down and killing them.  Really?  They already did that with Dark of the Moon.  In fact, the events of the previous film factor heavily into this one.  I was kind of hoping that they would start with a fresh story and not turn this one into a direct sequel, which Michael Bay did anyway.  The human characters aren’t nearly as irritating this time around with Mark Wahlberg taking the lead.  He’s certainly a better actor than LeDoofus, and it shows.  He’s not bad here.  The dialogue’s crap, though.  Kelsey Grammer actually makes a pretty decent villain.  Stanley Tucci also does a good job as Josh Joyce, the head of a major tech firm that’s creating Transformers of their own.  See?  That’s another plot point thrown into the mix that really doesn’t make sense.  The visual effects are second to none here, and I have to give them credit for that.  The robot designs are spectacular, especially when they transform.  It’s extremely detailed.  The robots themselves are a hoot, for the most part.  Optimus Prime is awesome as always.  Bumble-Bee is hilarious and bad-ass at the same time as he’s always been.  Ken Watanabe voices Drift and the fact that they have him look like a samurai is pretty fitting.  Instead of Megatron, we have Galvatron voiced by Transformers veteran Frank Welker.  It would’ve been awesome if they got Leonard Nimoy to voice Galvatron again, but he did voice a robot in Dark of the Moon.

 All the preview trailers for Age of Extinction had one thing in common: the Dinobots.  I LOVE THE DINOBOTS!  Grimlock, Slag, and Swoop are all featured here.  They are amazingly designed.  They’re huge and they break stuff very well.  Sadly, they’re totally under-utilized as they don’t even show up until towards the end of the movie.  Although, I’m not entirely sure having them show up earlier in the film would’ve made it any better.  I’m actually hoping that they give the Dinobots a movie of their own, or at least feature them more prominently in the next movie.  When it comes to blowing stuff up, Michael Bay is second-to-none.  He knows his way around an action movie, I’ll give him that.  With this movie, it feels like he’s struggling.  I would agree that he’s struggling when it comes to the writing, that’s for sure.  He’s not hiring good writers.  I honestly think the guy needs supervision.  The first movie that he directed worked, because Steven Spielberg was there to reign him in.  But when Revenge of the Fallen came out, Michael Bay just went bonkers.  At least the fourth film didn’t feature jive-talking Autobots and Decepticons with testicles.  There’s that.  Also, the irritating Shia LeDouchebag was left out.  Overall, Transformers 4 is a lot of fun, but it suffers from a serious amount of excess.  It’s a visually stunning film that really overstays it welcome by at least 25 minutes.  This sucker gets a 7/10.