Time: 130 mins.
Won Academy Awards for Best Costume Design, Sound Effects Editing and Makeup. Nomination for Art Direction.
SYNOPSIS: A young lawyer, assigned to a gloomy village in the mists of eastern Europe, is captured and imprisoned by the undead vampire Dracula. Inspired by a photograph of the lawyer's betrothed, Dracula travels to London and begins a reign of seduction and terror in an attempt to win her love.
BOTTOM LINE: This is definitely Coppola's best film of the last decade. Of course, when you consider what one has to compare it to THE RAINMAKER and JACK that's not exactly a glowing endorsement. It's a visually stunning, darkly mysterious and fairly accurate version of Bram Stoker's horror/pulp classic with one major flaw the casting of Keanu Reeves.
Before you get on my case, I do think Reeves can act, this part just isn't within his range. Much like Mr. Cruise, he is very good at playing a certain type of character. An intelligent, uptight English gentleman is not one of them. Everything from his bearing to his accent is just wrong, wrong, wrong. I understand the need to employ stars that will help fill the seats, but certainly they could have found someone better suited.
I applaud Reeves for trying to stretch his acting muscles, but he ruins the mood of the piece, which dances precariously on the line of utterly intoxicating and ridiculously overripe as it is. Not that he's the only one guilty of bad acting. Ryder isn't much better, but she manages to keep it tolerable. Granted she isn't given much to do except look lovely and behave sweetly. Oldman and Hopkins are brilliant as always as the master of the undead and the hunter trying to wipe him from the face of the Earth. Sadie Frost seems to really enjoy her role of vampiric concubine, giving the part real sex appeal and energy. It can't have been easy making sex with a werewolf look believibly scary.
The art direction, costumes and cinematography are amazingly beautiful, bringing you into another time and place and keeping this flick from being yet another lame horror movie. Lest you think this is merely a quaint period piece be forewarned. This is one of the bloodiest films I have ever seen. After all, Dracula wasn't known as Vlad the Impaler for nothing, however, I don't think it was exactly necessary to convey the horror. Cutting back on the buckets of blood would have made the ending less ridiculous and more heartfelt. Overall, this version is an intelligent, visually exuberant, if imperfect, retelling of a classic tale that, like it's lead character, just won't die.