Reviewed September 29th, 2001 by David Nusair
The Dracula story has been told so many times, one has to wonder if there’s even any point in revisiting it. Dracula 2000, while not a great film, at least attempts to inject new (ahem) blood into the story.
Gerard Butler stars as the titular vampire, and as the movie opens, he’s tricked into jail cell by his nemesis Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer). Years pass, and now Plummer (who’s still alive because of being cut by a knife that had Dracula’s blood on it) keeps the immortal vamp trapped in his basement, in an elaborate sarcophagus. His plan to keep him trapped there, though, is foiled when a group of thieves – convinced there’s got to be something valuable inside the coffin; otherwise why all the security? – make off with the tomb. And of course, all hell breaks loose after they open it, unleashing Dracula upon a new generation.
There’s a twist – regarding Dracula’s true identity – that’s revealed near the end of the picture, and it’s certainly an original one. Too bad the same can’t be said about the rest of the movie. First-time director Patrick Lussier has seemingly learned from his mentor, Wes Craven, how to film a horror movie because Dracula 2000 plays like a Scream clone. There’s plenty of fake “whew, it was just a cat”-type shocks, without a single scary sequence or image. But since that’s par for the course nowadays, it’s not surprising nor is it disappointing that this is what Dracula 2000 ultimately winds up being.
Even when Dracula 2000 had just begun filming, the lead role had yet to be cast. Gerard Butler, an unknown Scottish actor, eventually won the part – but is he any good? Yes and no. He’s not a bad actor, but as a menacing and creepy figure he scores a zero. This guy is about as frightening as a bad haircut. The rest of the actors fare slightly better, if only because they’re not Gerard Butler. As Van Helsing, Plummer (as per usual) brings more depth and integrity to this role than anyone could have expected. The rest of the victims... er... actors are basically interchangable, as none really receive much screen time before they become lunch.
While not a truly terrible vampire movie like The Forsaken, Dracula 2000 could have been so much more. As it stands, it’s a fairly diverting – though not at all scary – horror movie.
Audio: This is the very definition of an aggressive soundtrack. Presented with a DD 5.1 track, Dracula 2000 sounds amazing. From quiet scenes to all-out battle sequences, this is a track that, spatially, is almost worth checking out the mediocre movie. The dialogue is never drowned out by the almost constant barrage of audio, and everything sounds crisp and intelligible.
Equally impressive is the 2.35:1 anamorphically enhanced transfer. This is a dark movie, and as such, demands a lot out of its transfer. But blacks are deep and lighter colors are just as impressive. There’s not a single DVD or film related artifact. Very nicely done.
Extras: In addition to a stellar audio and video presentation, Dracula 2000 comes equipped with quite a number of extras. First up is a commentary track with director Patrick Lussier and writer Joel Soisson. This is a very informative track, with the two (who are quite friendly and jocular with each other) providing many interesting tidbits – from casting to the first drafts of the script to the incredibly rushed schedule they were on. Next up are three “extended” scenes, which offer nothing that wasn’t already there. It’s easy to see why they were cut down. There’s also four deleted scenes, including an alternate opening. Nothing too spectacular here (everything is, by the way, exposition-related and there is no new gore – if that’s what you were hoping for). The deleted and extended scenes also include commentary. Next up is a 9-minute featurette on the making of the movie. While there is some of that usual back-slapping between actors going on, there is also quite a bit of behind the scenes footage. Rounding out the package are some storyboards, auditions (Gerard Butler’s incredibly hammy and over-the-top audition is almost worth the price of the disc alone – how did this guy get this part? – and some trailers (Dracula 2000, Double Take, Reindeer Games, Immortality, The Faculty, and the From Dusk Till Dawn, Crow and Scream box sets.
Conclusion: An amazing audio/video presentation and some decent extras make this pretty good buy if you dig the flick and an excellent choice for a rental.
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