Friday, 8 May 2015

Vampire Week Day 4: Dracula 2000

It is said that this film was sold on its name alone, surprising considering the flood of films that slapped 2000 onto the title at the turn of the millennium, from Pokemon 2000 to Blues Brothers 2000, how would one more stand out. But having said that I do think this film is some bloody good fun!

Dracula 2000 (or 2001 in countries such as mine that got it a year late) is a 2000 action horror film directed by Patrick Lussier that takes the classic character of Bram Stokers novel and transports him to modern day.  Interestingly enough the novel does exist in the films universe, been a fictionalised account of what actually happened over a hundred years ago.

Dracula (Gerard Butler) isn't the only character from the book in the film but Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer) is also here, having discovered he can use Dracula’s blood to stay alive he runs an antique shop in London with the vampire locked up in a coffin deep beneath building, where he has been held for over a hundred years after they failed to discovered a way to permanently kill him. But one night a gang of high tech thieves break into the vault and take the coffin believing it to be filled with treasures, of course while on a plane Dracula awakens after some of the thieves blood spilt onto the coffin. After attacking the thieves and claiming one (played by Jennifer Esposito) as his first bride he causes the plane to crash in the Louisiana swamp, in a nice nod to the source material one thief has been lasted to the planes controls much like the captain of the Demeter was in the book. News woman Valerie Sharpe (Jeri Ryan) is on the scene of the crash, Dracula kills her cameraman and makes her his second bride.

On Dracula's trail is Van Helsing as well as his assistant Simon (Jonny Lee Miller), they go to where the body's from the crash are been stored and find they have all been turned into vampires, killing some but the others fleeing Van Helsing and Simon flee before the police show up and Van Helsing explains to Simon about capturing Dracula, using his blood to stay alive and guarding the body for a century, he also reveals he has a daughter living in New Orleans called Mary (Justine Waddell).

While all this has been going on we have also been following Mary and her life in New Orleans, who for her hole life has been haunted with nightmares of Dracula which now that he is free have become hallucinations.  Due to her father injecting himself with the blood of Dracula she has been born with a telepathic link to the vampire, making her of his blood as well. Realising Dracula is after her Van Helsing and Simon race to save her.  She also has a room mate Lucy (Vitamin C) who eventually becomes the third bride of Dracula.

This film isn't perfect, I'll start by saying that and that I'm also not blind to some of its weaker aspects, but I still really enjoy it, I feel the directing and cinematography are solid, especially one amazing visual where a close up of an eye looking into a retinal scanner turns into a vault door.  The performances are great from the whole cast, and it is a great cast.  Especially enjoyable are the scenes of Christopher Plummer's older Van Helsing going up against the eternally young Dracula providing a great contrast.  Jonny Lee Miller is an enjoyable leading man to follow, Simon is a good lead been dragged into this mad world of Vampires and stepping up to the challenges.  Justine Waddell's Mary is also great, starting off as Dracula's prey and eventually taking on her fathers legacy and fighting back.  Of course any adaptation of the character lives and dies on their Dracula and Scottish actor Gerard Butler steps up to the task brilliantly creating a sexy, threatening and yet also tortured version of the classic villain. And of course Jennifer Esposito, Jeri Ryan and Colleen Ann Fizpatrick (possibly better known by her stage name Vitamin C) are great as Dracula’s trio of seductive brides.

New Orleans was a great setting for the film, also setting it at Mardi Gras was great as it filled the city with parties and bright colours, as well as the city simply been beautiful.  I know this isn't the first vampire story to be set in new Orleans but it's a place I've always liked and find it a welcome setting in any film I've seen.

There are some great lines in the film, a couple personal favourites are Dracula saying "I never drink... coffee" which is a homage to the line from the 1931 film; "I never drink... wine."  And I also love Millers line; "Never, ever fuck with an antiques dealer!", as well as been both hilarious and badass it apparently started off as a joke the actor would say on set which the director liked so much he worked it into a scene.

Finally I have to mention the reveal in this film about Dracula's origins, without giving it away I will say I understand why some people dislike it and why it turns them off the film, but personally I think it was a fantastic and unique take on the character.

As I said at the beginning this film is some bloody good fun, an enjoyable little action horror ride with great visuals and a good cast. Though if it isn't your cup of tea you can try the 'Dracula 2000 Drinking Game', take a shot every time you see the Virgin logo, and you will see it, at lot, Mary and Lucy work in a Virgin Megastore so there are a number of scenes in and around the shop, as well as Mary sleeping in her work T-shirt.  Trust me, you'll be hammered before you even get to New Orleans!

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