Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bram Stoker's Dracula. A-

I haven't read Bram Stoker's original 'Dracula' so I don't know if Francis Ford Coppola follows the original vision of the story or if he creates his own. But regardless, this version of 'Dracula' is a reminder that film is first and foremost a visual medium. Even if the story and characters don't hold up, the visual quality makes this one of the director's finest achievements. The images on the screen, bloody as they may be, are very appealing. This is a movie where we are almost forced to notice and appreciate the costumes, the makeup, the set design, and art direction. The dazzling imagery is impossible to ignore and it all comes through brilliantly through Coppola's camera. And even if the story has some problems, it still manages to hold our attention. The basic premise is that a man named Jonathan leaves his fiancée Mina to become Count Dracula's client. But Dracula (played by Gary Oldman) proceeds to take Jonathan prisoner and then goes to England to prey on Mina. I wasn't crazy about the final twenty minutes or so when Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) leads a crew to stop Dracula, who has fled by ship. It was clumsily handled and didn't possess the slow, creepy quality of the rest of the movie. Still, as a visual piece 'Dracula' is a masterpiece. And if the story isn't, it's still competent enough to keep the movie in near-perfect territory.

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