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IN SHORT: Didn't suck. Much. [Rated R for violence/gore, language and some sexuality. 95 minutes]
When a film is not screened for critics, it's usually a sign of one of two things. The first is that, given that us "critics" are all old enough to be parents to the target demographic of the film, there's little point to showing us something that is aimed strictly at teenlets and twentysomethings. The second, more often than not, is that the movie sucks. We've already reported our findings on that score.
Did you think Cranky would review a vampire movie without using the "s" word? You're all smarter than that.
Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000, hereafter D2K, is not a bad reimagineering of the Bram Stoker tale, but it feels like an introduction and never provides the horror or scares that you expect. What it does provide is an origin for for Dracula, explanations for why things like crosses and silver tend to tick him off, and the requisite trio of vampire babes. Concentrating on story means there isn't as much bloodshed as you'd expect, which made D2K a relatively painless sit for these old bones.
For those needing a connection to the original, or the Bela Lugosi starrer that it inspired, there are nods in spades, beginning with a recap of the arrival of the cargo ship Demeter in London. Its crew is dead. Its captain is lashed to the helm we see Dracula's silhouette in the streets of 1897. A hundred and three years later, we are introduced to Matthew Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer), grandson of Abraham, and very wealthy owner of Carfax Antiquities. His right hand man is Simon Shepherd (Jonny Lee Miller), who tracks down things like 15th century crossbows, which Van Helsing Collects.
Simon has an eye for Solina (Jennifer Esposito) but she's in cahoots with Marcus (Omar Epps) to crack the very high tech security arrangements of the building and steal Van Helsing's treasure, whatever it may be, out from under him. "You don't build this kind of security without a gold mine to hide." What they find is the remains of an old abby inside of which is a coffin that cannot be opened. The crypt in which that coffin lies has its own defenses and the blood begins to flow.
A plane crashes in a swamp outside of New Orleans. Television newswoman Valerie Sharpe (Jeri Ryan) reports that an empty silver coffin was found on board, as well as a number of corpses and a pilot, tied to his chair by electrical wiring. Lovely symmetry. Hot in pursuit is Van Helsing, for New Orleans is where his daughter Mary (Justine Waddell) lives. Mary's roommate Lucy Westerman (Colleen Fitzpatrick) will become babe number three (following Esposito and Ryan) while Mary and Simon continue the family legacy.
Oh, Mardi Gras is underway. What could have been a flood of blood isn't. Even with Wes Craven's name attached, this production is low budget. Gerard Butler, as the Lord of Darkness, looks good in black but there isn't much about him that instills fear. What begins well quickly runs out of steam as Simon discovers Van Helsing's true history and Mary uncovers the secret origin of Dracula. While Plummer and Omar Epps are the bigger names, they don't spend a helluva lot of time on the screen. That leaves Jennifer Esposito to provide the sex appeal that newcomers Miller and Waddell do not.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Dracula 2000, he would have paid...
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