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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Dracula Untold serves as the legendary vampire's origin story -- as well as a reboot of Universal Studios' series of classic monster movies. It's more of a war movie than a horror movie, with tons of fighting with both fists and swords, but very little blood is shown (pretty surprising/unrealistic, considering that arms are chopped off and characters are impaled...). There are some jump-shock scenes in which vampires suddenly attack. A character drinks blood from a broken skull. A married couple kisses passionately; they start to have sex but stop. The man is shown shirtless, and the woman wears a dress that emphasizes her cleavage. A woman and a young boy are the victims of violence and oppression.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A child is taken by a sultan to be raised as a soldier; he grows into the fearsome, monstrous Vlad the Impaler. Years later, Vlad (Luke Evans) lives peacefully with his wife (Sarah Gadon) and young son. The current sultan (Dominic Cooper) has kept the peace but suddenly decides to again start collecting boys to train as soldiers. Desperate for power to stop this madness, Vlad makes a deal with a deadly creature in a cave (Charles Dance) for vampiric power; if he doesn't succumb to his thirst for blood for three days, he will revert to human again. If he does, he'll remain a vampire forever -- and also free the trapped creature from its prison. Can Vlad protect his family before his time runs out?
Is it any good?
Officially a reboot of the Universal Monster series, this movie is ugly, dreary, and dumb, focusing on stiff dialogue; endless shaky, gray battle scenes; and jumpy vampire attacks. It may be the dullest Dracula movie yet made. Essentially a bad superhero movie, it's more closely inspired by cheap-looking, disposable films like Legion, Priest, and Conan the Barbarian than by any classic monster movies.
Evans (Clash of the Titans, Immortals) is probably the best thing in the movie; he seems at home in this numbingly serious subgenre, but he's still a far cry from great Draculas like Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee. Forgoing atmosphere, chills, and the iconic character's hypnotic, sensual allure, the filmmakers don't even seem to be aware of who Dracula was or what he was all about. And if this origin story was intended to shed more light on his legend, it was an effort best left untold.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Dracula Untold's violence. How much blood is shown? Does a lack of blood make a movie seem more or less violent? Why do you think filmmakers might include violent scenes but omit gore?
What's the appeal of Dracula? How does he differ in this movie than in other movies or stories?
- In theaters: October 10, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: February 3, 2015
- Cast: Luke Evans, Dominic Cooper, Sarah Gadon
- Director: Gary Shore
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of warfare, vampire attacks, disturbing images, and some sensuality
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.