Thursday, April 1, 2010

Review: "Dracula 2000" is 2000 Times Bad

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 5 (of 2001) by Leroy Douresseaux

Dracula 2000 (2000)
Running time: 99 minutes; MPAA – R for violence/gore, language and some sexuality.
DIRECTOR: Patrick Lussier
WRITERS: Joel Soison, from a story by Joel Soison and Patrick Lussier
PRODUCERS: W.K. Border and Joe Soison
EDITOR: Peter Devaney Flanagan and Patrick Lussier
COMPOSER: Marco Beltrami


Starring: Jonny Lee Miller, Justine Waddell, Gerard Butler, Danny Masterson, Jeri Ryan, Colleen Anne, Fitzpatrick, Jennifer Esposito, Lochlyn Munro, Sean Patrick Thomas, Omar Epps, Nathan Fillion, and Christopher Plummer

Patrick Lussier’s (a film editor on Mimic, Scream 2 and Scream 3) Dracula 2000 presents the fabled count as a young, handsome, curly-haired Adonis. Easily the sexiest Dracula since Christopher Lee, Gerard Butler’s vampire overwhelms the helpless screen with his stunningly good looks; no doubt, he’s got to get his props in the looks department. The problem is that his looks make it difficult to accept him as Dracula. Vampires dine on humans for Pete’s sake, and the idea of them as romance novel cover boys is pure silliness. Even Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Gary Oldman had nastiness about them. This vampire’s handsome appearance would have his female (and some male) victims at his neck before he even had a chance to bare his fangs.

In this nouveau version of the classic story, Abraham Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer) is an English antiques dealer. Sometime during the 19th century, Van Helsing successfully captured Dracula (Gerard Butler). He keeps him locked in a well-fortified crypt, and he draws the Count’s cursed blood and injects it into his body to make himself immortal. That way he will always be alive to recapture Dracula if (or when) he escapes, since by this movie’s logic, the Count cannot be killed, and Van Helsing must always be there to save the world.

A small band of thieves led by a man named Marcus (Omar Epps), breaks into the crypt, and later, unwittingly release Dracula as the thieves escape to America. Loose in New Orleans, Dracula tracks Van Helsing’s daughter Mary Heller (Justine Waddell) who shares a psychic connection to Dracula via the vampire blood her father passed to her. Van Helsing’s chases the count, while his own assistant Simon Sheppard (Jonny Lee Miller, Trainspotting) follows him.

Dracula 2000 is by no means special, and the movie proudly revels in being dumb. The filmmakers never seem to aspire to give anything above the ordinary. The movie looks ordinary, and the acting outside of Plummer is poor. One can find in this movie things that one can find in many vampire movies that predate it. This story is so familiar that changing the locale to New Orleans simply isn’t enough to inject something new into the story. The movie doesn’t even try to take advantage of the wealth of stereotypes that setting a story in New Orleans offers: voodoo, Cajuns, jazz, organized crime, Harry Connick, Sr. under investigation again, Mardi Gras, etc. Apparently, the makers assumed that if they simply hiring a young, hot, photogenic cast would be enough to draw in the 18 to 35 set to watch an old story they’ve seen before. Granted that it worked to make American Pie from Porky’s, it just doesn’t work all the time.

And the little jerky “fastmo” camera thing that Stephen Norrington used in Blade to show the high speed at which vampires moved is an old idea beaten to death in Dracula 2000. Omar Epps (The Wood, Love and Basketball) is wasted. No less talented than Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Heath Ledger, etc., only the color of his skin keeps him from getting the good roles and keeps him slumming in crap like this.

Poor Justine Waddell’s character spends so much time swooning in and out of visions; one would swear it was because of drunkenness rather than because she shares a link with a vampire. Her psychic connection with Dracula is more annoying than informative here. Unable to stop, catch her breath, and act because she’s often running away from this Fabio version of Dracula, her potential is wasted. And her romps with Dracula’s buxom crew of vampire sex kittens, led by Jeri Ryan (the Borg erection enhancer late of Star Trek: Voyager), is not as exciting as one would think. Doe-eyed and confused, Mary Heller is a sympathetic figure in a pathetic movie; character and audience are cheated.

2 of 10


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