Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dracula 2000 - 2000

Director:                      Patrick Lussier
Story:                        Joel Soisson &
                                   Patrick Lussier
Screenplay:                Joel Soisson
Cinematography:         Peter Pau
Editing:                      Peter Devaney Flanagan &
                                  Patrick Lussier
    Design:                  Carol Spier
Original Music:          Marco Berltrami

Dracula                                 Gerard Butler
Abraham Van Helsing           Christopher Plummer
Simon Sheppard                  Jonny Lee Miller
Mary Heller                           Justine Waddell
Lucy Westerman                  Colleen Fitzpatrick
Solina                                  Jennifer Esposito
Marcus                                 Omar Epps
Trick                                   Sean Patrick Thomas
Nightshade                           Danny Masterson
Valerie Sharpe                     Jeri Ryan

I admit that this one is a guilty pleasure.  I also admit that the main pleasure for me is the star, Gerard Butler.  And I blush to admit that my admiration for his performance is not due to his abilities as a thespian.  Damn, is he fine!  The scrumptious Scotsman plays the Big D, brought back to life (or at least motion), in modern day New Orleans

I won’t spoil the big reveal for the one or two of you out there who may be considering watching this one.   They come up with a nutty explanation for the whole vampire thing, including the aversion to silver and religious objects, which doesn’t bear very close examination.  When I heard it, I groaned and then laughed, and then waited for the next blood-letting.  The less said about it the better.  Let’s just move on, shall we? 

The plot is a little convoluted.  It starts in London and goes down a long road to get to how and why Dracula is back on the loose.  It turns out that the Stoker novel, was actually a true story.  Van Helsing captured his nemesis and has kept him prisoner all these years.

The first part of the movie is a sort of crime caper.  A gang of thieves gets wind of some kind of “treasure” being kept under severe lock and key, and goes to elaborate lengths to steal it.  They don’t really know what they are doing of course, which leads inevitably to confusion and disaster.  It’s always entertaining to watch a bunch of nitwits get in WAY over their heads. The anticipation in watching this unwind is at least half the fun. 

Due to their hapless intervention Dracula regains his youth and vigor after a little breakfast blood, and turns into Gerard Butler and is lookin’ really, really good.   Oh my…excuse me a minute.  I have to go get a cold compress for the nape of my neck.  Ok, I’m back.

It also stars the equally toothsome and athletic Jonny Lee Miller (once married to Angelina Jolie, but then who hasn’t been?).   He is in the employ of Christopher Plummer, an actor who can bring more dignity and depth to any role than it deserves.  Mr. Plummer  plays an antiquities dealer who is actually the original, long lived AbrahamVan Helsing.  Don’t ask.  Omar Epps is wonderful as the criminal ringleader, and later seems to be having a great time as an energetic and very funny vampire.  He has a great fight scene with Jonny Lee, and learns a valuable lesson from which we can all benefit:  “Never, ever fuck with an antiques dealer!”

By the way gentlemen, don’t worry that you have been forgotten - there are several attractive ladies who spend a great deal of time in various states of undress, or may-as-well-be.   Dracula picks up three “brides” along the way – Jennifer Esposito, Jeri Ryan and Colleen Ann Fitzpatrick.  After some initial reluctance to become a vampire girl group, they get down and enjoy the undead lifestyle.  They sport lovely fangs, they cavort, caper, seduce and murder, all the usual stuff.  And one of them gets to have a roll in the hay on the ceiling with Dracula.  Gee, I’ll be right back, I need to refresh my compress.    

I have heard some belly-aching about Mr. Butler’s Scottish accent, along the lines of “Hey! why in hell would Dracula have a Scottish accent, huh???”  Frankly, I don’t hear any particular, identifiable accent, so I couldn’t place Mr. D’s place of origin which  fits for someone who is as long in the tooth as he.

Due to the fact that I am a New Orleans aficionado, I have to make a couple of comments about the setting since the movie was filmed partly in and around the City that Care (and George Bush) Forgot.  It is fun to see some of the usual places – Jackson Square, Decatur St., St. Louis Cathedral, the old Virgin Megastore (no longer there), Lafayette Cemetery and what looks more or less like the French Quarter.  The blending of real location shots and Toronto soundstage shots is pretty seamless.

So, three soulful kisses from me.  It looks good, the action scenes are a kick.  It sounds good, though the music does get a bit turgid.  The ending manages to be lame and heavy handed at the same time.  But, the whole thing is fun, as long as you turn off your brain and don’t ask a lot of questions.  And the sexy quotient is right up there at summer-in-Chicago-heat levels.  But, if you don’t like it, you can bite me.  I have to go now, it’s time to re-watch “300”.  I do so love the study of the Greco-Persian wars.  As long as I have a cool compress available. 

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