Sunday, November 15, 2015

1002. DRACULA (1992)

Running Time: 128 minutes
Directed By: Francis Ford Coppola
Written By: James V. Hart, based on the novel by Bram Stoker
Main Cast: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves, Richard E. Grant
Click here to view the trailer

Note: So this is kinda' weird coming back to this format after saying my final eulogy to the project a couple weeks ago. However, as noted in my finale notes, I intend to set out to watch the rest of the movies that have appeared in other editions of THE BOOK, other than the fifth edition that I was working out of. The thing is though, is that I really had no intention of starting this so soon. It wasn't until I was halfway through Coppola's 1992 adaptation of Dracula that it dawned on me that this was actually a BOOK movie. So...what the heck...let's get down to business. The numbering will continue from 1001, meaning this is 1002 and anything that follows, that is a BOOK review, will have that special numbering sequence...


So I've reviewed the Max Schreck version, the Bela Lugosi version, the Christopher Lee version, the Klaus Kinski version and now, I present, the Gary Oldman version of Bram Stoker's classic tale - Dracula!

Seriously though, if you MUST have a plot synopsis, you can click any of the links I just hooked up to and re-read those reviews, because I've told you four times now what this story is about and it's not as if everyone on Earth doesn't already know the story of Dracula anyway. So yeah, it's a new era here in the blog and apparently, I'm a lot sassier! But seriously, it's not necessary for me to go through it again, right? Dracula's the vampire, Harker's the human, Dracula wants Harker's girlfriend/wife, it's a whole, undead love triangle sorta thing...

The first ten minutes of Coppola's 1992 remake of a remake of a remake of Dracula, are pretty B.A. I commented to Ruth right away that this thing LOOKED brilliant and that I was actually excited to revisit this one, as I'd seen it previously - many, MANY years ago, back when I was just a tike. However, my hopes for a blow away movie were quickly dashed as beautiful images turned to mediocre acting from two of the four leads and a tedious story that I've seen way too many times. Like, seriously, if I never see another Dracula adaptation for as long as I live, that will be fine with me. I mean, I really liked Herzog's version that I watched earlier this year and THAT'S something that I'd like to take another look at, but not for a very, very long time. At this point, I could recite the tale of Dracula in my sleep and while Coppola's version does stray where the other movies didn't (werewolf rape, for example), it doesn't stray far enough to make this feel like anything but a rehashing of something we'd seen time and time again.

I will say, however, that this was a far more adult version of Dracula than we'd seen before - or at least that I'D seen before. It worked in a fair amount of nudity and a much more advanced makeup & special effects team, to make for a much scarier version of Dracula that I think we've ever seen. Despite not caring for it, it's hard for me to deny the extreme talent of Gary Oldman and it made me wonder, as I took a quick phone break to look up his filmography, why he never made it bigger - especially post-1992 and post-Dracula, where he easily wins the award for most badass Dracula of them all. I'm pretty sure all the girls watching this got, at least, a little crush when Oldman dawned the top hat and circular, blue sunglasses and set out to woo Winona Ryder. However, Oldman's Count Dracula wasn't just badass, as the actor dawned several faces to give us the most versatile vampire we've ever seen - sometimes a handsome, Johnny Depp looking playboy and other times a straight up monster, a la something from the mind of Greg Nicotero.

Speaking of cast, don't get your hopes too high, as Oldman is easily the best part. Sure, you've got Anthony Hopkins in there too and he's never bad, but you've also got to put up with Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, both of whom suck the giant meat misile. I mean, is there anyone out there who actually likes Reeves? If so, to each their own and I'm sure you have your reasons, but I just don't see it. I didn't even know he was in the movie and as soon as I heard his voice, I was like "oh shit, not him". Yes...HIM! Ryder looked like a million bucks here, but unfortunately her role required her to open her mouth, which immediately killed all of her charm.

The bottom line is that this is a damn chore to get through, at least it was for me. I found it to be more adult, which was a nice change of pace - but ultimately, it was the same story we'd already seen a half dozen times to similar effect. In fact, I'd call it worse than those other attempts. While this film looked like a Picasso come to life, I still preferred the pale gray colors of Werner Herzog's vision. Where this film gave us the tale in a it's classic form, reintroducing us to classic characters like The Count, Harker and Van Helsing, it won't have the same authentic feel as renting the 1931 Bela Lugosi version, While this film showcased Anthony Hopkins doing a fine job as Dr. Van Helsing, he still didn't quite knock it out of the park like Peter Cushing did in Terrence Fisher's 1958 imagining. In fact, the only two reasons to get behind Coppola's Dracula is 1) Oldman and 2) the cinematography (yet, as I said, I prefer the Herzog version for sheer style) and yet, those two things aren't enough to get past the fact that this sucker drags like death.

RATING: 3.5/10  Wowie zowie. I guess they took it out for good reason then. Man, I was really hoping to like this one too. I'm going through a bit of a Coppola phase right now and I can say with certainty that so far, this is his worst.

November 15, 2015  11:47pm

1 comment:

  1. You have to suffer for your task at times don't you? I mean .. thinking how I would feel about having to sit through 5 versions of 'The Searchers' .. or 'shudder' .. 5 versions of 'Sound of Music'' (mind boggles at the thought of the silent version, and of the Herzog version of SoM).
    OK lets get this clear .. I really like this one. Not as much as the Bella version, but this is so different, (to me) it's almost another film. Magnificent performance from Oldman and - as you say - stunning photography. I also agree that the weak spot is Keanu .. but maybe not as much as you found him. So there I am .. agreeing with just about all of your main points .. other than the end result.
    Thanks for doing this 'in the old style' .. on it's own!


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