by Greg Muskewitz
Whether it is Wes Craven Presents Dracula 2000, Wes Craven's Dracula 2000, or most simply Dracula 2000, with or without the inclusion of Craven, it does not make this any better of a movie. And if Craven ever had the opportunity to read this script before agreeing to produce it, after all the building with the Scream trilogy, he may have lost himself some credibility.Dracula 2000 went without a press screening, which generally insinuates that even the studio thinks they have an extreme stinker on their hands. Let me be the first to assure you, it is bad, but I've seen worse this year, and that worse was screened.
"Not counting the small dose of Vitamin C, this is a jejune hack-Drac."
We begin with a brief flashback to 1897 to a massacred ship, and then skip forward to present day 2000. If Miramax/Dimension would have waited any longer to release this, they would have had to remarket it as Wes Craven's Dracula 2001. Anyway, in England, Abraham Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer) is housing the casket in which holds the immortal Dracula (Gerald Butler). When a band of (as the press kit puts it) "tech savvy thieves" (which in English means unswallowable technology) offs with the coffin believing it has some wonderful fortune in it. ("If it's worth locking, it's worth taking.") Obviously, they don't realize what they're releasing. Scary? I didn't think so.
Van Helsing and his dubious protégé Simon Sheppard (Jonny Lee Miller) head to America, New Orleans to be exact, when Dracula has dropped in for a visit. Not as coincidental as you may believe, and as if the plodding storyline doesn't emphasize too hard at, Mary (Justine Waddell) is having weird visions that involve Drac. Suggestedly they will meet, but I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that she's Van Helsing's daughter, and has some sort of connection to Dracula (she was born of his blood). Big whoop.
Dracula has of course turned those thieves into zombie vampires, some of which are played by Omar Epps, Jennifer Esposito and Sean Patrick Thomas. Along the way, Mary's adorable friend Lucy (Colleen Ann Fitzpatrick a/k/a Vitamin C) is turned into a suck-face too. Blade this ain't. Good this ain't either.
The story is a shared credit by Joel Soisson and Patrick Lussier, who also directs and edits, but Soisson takes the bill for the screenplay itself. The big issue at hand here is the banality and lack of originality that they display here. This plays like an even badder version of End of Days. There's a lot of allusion and symbolism beating you over the head about The Virgin Mary, and our protagonist Mary, who works at a music shop called Virgin, etc. It's lame. It's downright laughable. And like End of Days (and to a lesser extent, Stigmata) there is plenty of bible dissing ("You believe that propaganda?"). There is an unacceptable amount of coincidence, plot hindrances, and a script full of really bad dialogue. There is absolutely no believability, as the normal, human characters have unending stamina (Miller is hit 30-40 feet across a parking lot, slams head-first into a van, and gets right up off of the ground to resume battle). The more I think about it, the more that I understand their reasoning in not screening this.
The acting, in most cases, goes part-in-parcel with the script and dialogue. Lochlyn Munroe is gone in a blink, while proven actors Plummer, Epps, and neophytes Esposito and Thomas all reek. Over-the-top, under-the-mark. It's like amateur night when your neighbors try to go elaborate during Halloween. Miller is barely passable, and really only Fitzpatrick is satisfactory. Fitzpatrick/Vitamin C (who sings that "Graduation" song), is as far as I know, the same Colleen Fitzpatrick (minus the Ann) from John Waters' classic Hairspray. It makes sense after all, the character was a singer/dancer in Hairspray, and the Eighties timeline makes the (minimal) aging feasible. But to be honest, she looks more like the way I remember Leslie Ann Powers, who played Ricki Lake's sidekick, instead of arch-rival. Regardless, Fitzpatrick has an alluring, sexy presence, and is the only one here who knows how to articulate, and do it well. Maybe it was her formal singing instruction paying off. The one "present" we get from this passe Christmas suck-fest (pun intended), is we briefly get to see her topless. Unfortunately, the excitement does not carry over to the rest.
The Dracula in this, Gerard Butler, is awful. I can't resist it: He sucks!!! He is not frightening, not suave, not creepy, but dull all around. He has to be one of the worst Draculas or vampires on screen ever. Not only does he neglect the laurels of what Dracula is, but Butler is simply a bad, stiff actor. Horrible casting equals horrible results. There is no atmosphere to Dracula 2000 at all. It does not deserve the usage of this classic character's name.
Lussier is a good editor. I liked his work a lot on the Scream trilogy, and especially on Mimic. He's been an editor on Craven's work since Wes Craven's New Nightmare, and I tend to believe that is why Craven has so generously lent his producing efforts. Lussier has assembled a great tech crew, costume designer Denise Cronenberg (eXistenZ, The Fly), director of photography Peter Pau (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), production designer Carol Spier (eXistenZ, Mimic), and composer Marco Beltrami (The Scream trilogy). But the writing here is underdeveloped in every conceivable notion. The explanations they offer and the back-stories they create are hokey and unkempt. Leave poor Dracula alone to his coffin, I'm sure that he'd much rather be there than associated with this.
I still will admit to anticipating anything with Fitzpatrick, and am with much more hope looking forward to Shadow of a Vampire.Final Verdict: D.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4658&reviewer=172
originally posted: 12/30/00 08:37:25