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Dracula 2000

Reviewed by: David Litton
Genre: Horror
Video: 2.35:1 widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Language: English, French
Subtitle: English, Spanish
Length: 1 hr, 31 min
Rating: R
Release Date: 4/3/01
Studio: Dimension Films
Commentary: Director Patrick Lussier and screenwriter/producer Joel Soisson
Documentaries: None
Featurettes: one featurette
Filmography/Biography: None
Interviews: None
Trailers/TV Spots: Yes
Alternate/Deleted Scenes: deleted scenes and extended takes
Music Video: None
Other: storyboards, audition footage
Cast and Crew: Jonny Lee Miller, Christopher Plummer, Justine Waddell, Omar Epps, Jennifer Esposito
Screenplay by: Written by: Joel Soisson
Produced by: W.K. Border, Joel Soisson
Directed By: Patrick Lussier
Music: Marco Beltrami
The Review: A modern-day gothic bloodlust comes to the screen in "Dracula 2000," a movie that has some good ideas but can't seem to put them in the proper place. It has everything you'd expect from a movie about the infamous legend, including a well-suited cast that fits the story, which has its ups and downs. The modernization of the story has aspects that are appealing and appalling, and while I liked the movie, there are a number of things I didn't care for. Beginning with fantastically foreboding shots of the Demeter, the ship that carried Dracula to England in Bram Stoker's novel, the story immediately segues to the year 2000, in London, where Matthew Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer), a collector and dealer of antiques, is hiding something in a large, heavily guarded vault at his place of business. Not so heavily guarded, though, that a band of techie thieves cannot make their way into the vault, making their way through hallways of fanged skulls and massive collections of antiques, until they reach the end of the path, where a metal coffin lies on a pedestal. Once on a plane, their efforts to open the coffin result in the reawakening of Dracula (Gerard Butler), who claims them all as the undead and causes the plane to crash in New Orleans just in time for Mardi Gras. But, amongst the festivities, young Mary Heller (Justine Waddell) can't seem to shake the overwhelming sense of fear from her mind, along with intensely haunting dreams involving the handsome yet sinister man. As all this is happening, Van Helsing, along with his business partner, Simon (Jonny Lee Miller), make their way to New Orleans in hopes of finding Mary and stopping Dracula from making her his own. It is here that the story's better side kicks in, giving us an intricate explanation for Van Helsing's connections to Dracula, as well as his connection to Mary and Dracula's reasons for wanting her. The movie evolves into a race against time ordeal, where the main question is will he or won't he find her and claim her? There are some good forces at work for the movie, mostly residing in the story, which uses the legend of Dracula as a mere starting point for its own machinations. It lets us know how Dracula came to reside under Van Helsing's watchful eye, but from that point, it gives us new explanations of Dracula's disdain for crosses and silver, relating these hatreds to Biblical times and events. It may seem hokey at first, but upon further thought, it gains credibility. Casting is also another plus, the kind of cast that is not, for the most part, widely known. Christopher Plummer, in the role of Van Helsing, is everything the original character was, and his ability to keep in touch with that fervor is outstanding. Jonny Lee Miller plays a nice hero as Simon, and is convincing in all the right places, including his loyalty to Van Helsing. Justine Waddell is commendably stable as the unstable Mary, and while he's not show-stopping, Gerard Butler does turn a few heads as the title character. There are also some genuinely scary moments that stay in the mind, though they tend to degenerate into gory spectacle. There's the beginning heist sequence that takes place in the crypt where Dracula's coffin is kept, which is dark and ominous, while the sequence involving the opening of the coffin is quite suspenseful. Director Patrick Lussier, who takes a backseat to Wes Craven's top billing as producer (an obvious marketing tactic), gives scenes like this a creepy feel, but cheats us out of genuine chills with some excessive bloodletting and dropping bodies. It is for this reason that the movie is never really scary. Yes, that building suspense is there, but only for seconds at a time. There's also a collection of schlocky thrills intended for quick scares, characters jumping onscreen to a soundtrack pulse, but soon after that, it all dies down again. Predictability is another factor. The movie gets it right with the unexpected outcome for Van Helsing, but with every other character, we know who's going to live and die. The outcome of the history of Dracula's origins is interesting in itself, but not enough to keep our focus away from who will be left standing at film's end. There's a lot to admire about the story and execution of "Dracula 2000," though I'm sure it will never surpass some of its predecessors. Unlike previous films, it deals with Dracula's origins rather than with his actions following his reawakening. The modernization of the legend has its ups and downs, trading good suspense for cheap "Scream"-like gore. I was impressed by the movie's guts... when they weren't spilling out on the floor. --
Image and Sound One of Dimension Films' best DVDs to date in terms of quality. The images, which are dark and full of shadow and dark contrasts, exhibit 0.1% noise, giving us a clean image that is also sharp and full of brilliant colors. The sound is mastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, and could easily be played on a 2.0 receiver to the same exact effect. The soundtrack wraps into the surrounds, which is intrical in many scenes involving dreamscapes and hallucinations, bringing them all to stunning life. A very impacting DVD experience.
The Extras "Dracula 2000" has a lot of nice special features to make it a more-than-worthwhile DVD purchase. In addition to an audio commentary track by the director and the writer, there is a behind-the-scenes featurette which features cast and crew interviews on their experiences during the making of the movie. A collection of deleted scenes and extended takes is made extremely interesting by the addition of commentary for each scene, which provides an explanation for why they were removed. Storyboards show us the way some scenes were first imagined, while showing us some that were completely left out. Audition footage is also included, and a theatrical trailer. You may not think it's much, but the special features on this DVD fit the movie nicely, and take up a good chunk of time in getting through. --
Commentary A nicely done audio commentary by director Patrick Lussier and screenwriter Joel Soisson, which goes into details about the making of the movie and much more. Throughout the movie, not only do the two of them talk about scenes that were left out or placed in other portions of the movie, but their discussion also goes to explain some of the aspects of the story itself. Also included are their revelations of how things were filmed, what went where, and much more. Definitely worth more than a listen.
Final Words: "Dracula 2000" is no "Bram Stoker's Dracula," and it's nowhere near as good as it could be, but it's still a nice package of entertaining cinema. There's enough to keep us interested, though not thoroughly glued to the screen.

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July 4, 2001