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Feb 2, 2013Francis Ford Coppola gives the ageless vampire a terrifying new update in 1992's DRACULA. Coppola uniquely adapts the letters and journal entries from the original novel onto the screen in this stylish retelling. DRACULA may be the single most horrifying film of the 90's. Its lavish set pieces drip Gothic allure while its abominable creature designs have escaped from a world of nightmares. Why, then, did Coppola decide to drag it through the mud by hiring such an inappropriate cast? Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder couldn't have been worse choices as Jonathan Harker and Mina Murray. Judging by the film, one might think that Dracula drains his victims of talent. Their despondent performances dispel the romantic fantasy that is unraveling all around them. The great Anthony Hopkins has his hands in the matter too, with a boisterous take on Professor Van Helsing that comes across as a drunken fool. Despite his dramatic overacting, Gary Oldman proves himself the actor of the bunch, and puts forth a performance that is chilling to the bone. Just one look at his withered old Count is enough to make the skin crawl, and the buxom brides that stalk his chambers are none less frightening. From a visual standpoint, Francis Ford Coppola has directed a masterpiece of Gothic cinema, but for all of its lurid style and grace, DRACULA lacks soul.
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Dracula has the nervy enthusiasm of the work of a precocious film student who has magically acquired a master's command of his craft. It's surprising, entertaining and always just a little too much.
Dracula, which also stars Winona Ryder, Keanu Reeves and Anthony Hopkins, is an evocative visual feast. But the meal is spectral, without the dramatic equivalent of nutritional value.