Echo Bridge Home Entertainment // 2000 // 99 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 27th, 2011
Because "Dracula 2.0" just sounded way too 'geeky'...
The ultimate ancient evil is reawakened when a band of young thieves break into a manor's high-security vault thinking they're about to discover priceless riches and treasures. Instead these techno criminals (including Danny Masterson, Omar Epps and Jennifer Esposito) inadvertently bring the dreaded Count Dracula (Gerard Butler, 300) back to life! Unleashed in the city of New Orleans, Dracula is pursued by his keeper, Abraham Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer, Priest), who must protect his daughter, Mary Heller-Van Helsing (Justine Waddell, The Fall), who shares a special and altogether terrifying link with Dracula.
Dracula 2000 is a rather long and sometimes arduous journey to a most fascinating conclusion. Everything leads up to one of the best and most original reveals this side of The Sixth Sense. I really dug how Dracula 2000 concluded and feel that had the movie been expanded on slightly (both its characters and ideas), it may have steered itself into the territory of instant classic. Sadly, the movie's first hour isn't half as good as its final plot twist that makes it worth your time.
Watching Dracula 2000 over ten years later seems an almost superfluous event. Vampires are, of course, everywhere at this point. You can't turn on a TV, watch a movie or read a book without running into blood sucking demons from hell; be it teen romance (Twilight), adult soap operas (True Blood) or on the literary front (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter). Vampires are the 'in' thing right now, which makes a movie like Dracula 2000 almost blasé in 2011. If it weren't for the ending (which I won't give away here) this may have just been one of the more forgettable post-Scream outings.
The good news is that Dracula 2000 moves briskly towards its final plot twist and features a cast of affable talent that, while never fully engaging, are at least tolerable in their roles, not the least of which is Gerard Butler as the title character. Before he was clobbering heads and taking on Xerxes' army, Butler was roaming the character actor landscape in long hair and a deadly smile. As the titular Dracula, Butler brings a nice amount of charm and style to a role that has been played to death (pun intended). Butler is menacing without every being overtly campy and seductive without being sappy or romantic. Butler's turn as the classic bloodsucker is one of the better things about this movie.
Dracula 2000 features a lot of familiar faces, some of them spending only minutes on screen. That '70s Show's Danny Masterson shows up as one of the initial thieves and Dracula's first victim. Dracula's brides are played by three hot actresses (Star Trek: Voyager's Borg girl Jeri Ryan, Colleen Fitzpatrick AKA pop singer Vitamin C, and Spin City's Jennifer Esposito) who do little but thrust their breasts towards the camera and look really good in flowing white gowns. Hollywood veteran Christopher Plummer brings a lot of needed dignity to the film with his portal of the aging Van Helsing; Plummer is that rare breed of actor who makes even the most trite dialogue ring with conviction.
Dracula 2000 came during a low point of horror movies, when the Scream movies had ushered in a post-modern take on the slasher flick. Because of this, Dracula 2000's horror and gore feel rather light in comparison to something like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and its ilk that would show up only a few short years later. The movie is filled with cheesy dialogue that is just this side of way too corny. Take, for instance, a moment when one of the good guys pulls a cross on one of the baddie vampires:
Evil Vampire: "Sorry sport, I'm an atheist."
(the cross is revealed to be a sharp stake)
Good Vampire Hunter: "God loves you anyway."
(Ka-THUNK right into the vampire's chest)
So, you see the level of witticism we're dealing with here. Dracula 2000 is filled with these kinds of 'punny' one-liners, which is probably what the producers and writers assumed young audiences wanted. Had the movie discarded some of the more comedic elements and stuck with the serious storyline, Dracula 2000 may have been seen as a truly scary vampire story. Surprisingly, Wes Craven lends his name to the promotional aspects of this film (technically, the full title is Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000), though his involvement ending up being minimal (as it was on the late '90s evil genie flick Wes Craven Presents: Wishmaster).
I can recommend Dracula 2000 because when all is said and done director Patrick Lussier (My Bloody Valentine, Drive Angry) had some great storylines that got swallowed up by too many cooks in the kitchen. Dracula 2000 is a great idea tucked in an only passable package. Hey, at least it's miles above either of the I Know What You Did Last Summer movies. That counts for something.
Dracula 2000 is presented in a rather disappointing 1.78:1 1080i hi-def transfer (which isn't even the correct aspect ratio, for crying out loud!). Is it just me or are we starting to move backwards in the home entertainment presentation. We went from VHS to DVD, but everyone wanted the original aspect ratio. Suddenly companies like Echo Bridge are getting their hands on big name movies, but are releasing them in terribly sub-par transfers. This transfer is no different -- it's a step up from DVD on the clarity level, but often looks soft, hazy and just plain dull. It's sad that these distributors aren't putting the effort needed to make these premium discs top notch. If it's important to you to have this film in the OAR, then I'd say skip this Blu-ray.
The soundtrack is presented in an equally lackluster 2.0 Stereo mix. Really, Echo Bridge? 2.0? This is 2011. We've moved on past VHS and DVD. Movies made only ten years ago should have their original 5.1 Surround Sound mixes. This sound mix is just one more huge failure for Echo Bridge. No alternate soundtracks or subtitles are available on this disc.
The only extra features available on this disc is mildly interesting commentary track by director Patrick Lussier and writer Joel Soisson, ported over from the original DVD release (but sans any of the other extra features available on that original pressing). Echo Bridge's mediocre efforts strike again.
Dracula 2000 is an above average late '90s/early 2000s horror movie. Sadly, the same can't be said for this halfhearted Blu-ray release.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Release Year: 2000
MPAA Rating: Rated R