We've all become God's madmen, all of us.
Let's cut right to it, Bram Stoker's Dracula is a polarizing movie, and it's not hard to see why. On the one hand you have some absolutely lush visuals, its positively drenched in atmosphere, and has stellar performances from Gary Oldman, Anthony Hopkins, and Tom Waits. You'd be hard pressed to find another film adaptation of the novel that follows its source material so closely.
On the other hand, you have Keanu Reeves.
I read up on the process of making this movie, something I don't usually do, but I found certain elements of it too compelling not to investigate further. Francis Ford Coopola saw this film as a true period piece and felt that the special effects and editing techniques should match those of the era he was emulating. He doesn't usually follow storyboards for his pictures, but did so here, going so far as to animating them and editing in scenes from the 1946 French version of Beauty and the Beast. He showed this to his SFX team, showing them what he wanted his movie to look like, saying that he didn't want to use any modern day computer generated or aided effects. The SFX team declared the task "impossible," so Coopola fired them. He brought in a new team and stayed true to his vision, the payoff clearly visible in the beautiful dreamlike quality present throughout the entire film. Great sets, costumes, and make up complete the visual package, Dracula's bat form being an all-time favorite monster makeup of mine.
And then there's Keanu Reeves, his hair is a different color nearly every time he's on screen.
Oldman's turn as the Count is exactly what he should be in this film, with just the right amounts of sympathy and menace. There will never be a better Renfield than Tom Waits. Renfield is such a minor character, but he's iconic to the mythos and Waits is nothing short of definitive. I love Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing. He's somewhat emotionally detached from the grisly work he must do, and he adds a level of humor to Van Helsing that you don't often see.
So with so many great actors packed into this thing, WHY IN THE HELL WOULD YOU PUT KEANU REEVES IN IT? See, I know there's an answer to this, just as their is to his ever changing hair color, but I'm not buying it. His English accent might, might be the absolute worst accent I have ever heard in any movie, TV show, etc. Fortunately, most of his role doesn't require him to do much but be flat, but man, whenever he needs to express, well, anything, really, the movie damned near falls apart right then and there. Oh, and Winona Ryder isn't all that great either.
As it stands, I still think this is my second favorite Dracula movie ever made (first goes to Horror of Dracula), and certainly the best adaptation of it if you're judging it against Bram Stoker's novel.
SCARE RATING: 2.5/5
OVERALL RATING: 3.5/5