Only genre fans need bother with Patrick Lussier’s unfortunately titled “Dracula 2000”, about the titular bloodsucker (Gerard Butler) making a comeback in the year (what else?) 2000. The screenplay by director Lussier and co-writer Joel Soisson, who has made his bones writing genre movies, makes for an effective and exciting — if wholly lacking in any scares — movie.
“Dracula 2000” informs us that the Dracula legend is very much real, and that for the last 100 years or so antiquities dealer Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer) has kept the bloodsucker locked away in a super duper vault while trying to find new ways to kill the undying menace. When high-tech thief Marcus (Omar Epps) and his gang breaks into Van Helsing’s building and steals Dracula’s coffin, believing it to be filled with valuables, Van Helsing has to pursue. Helping the aging vampire hunter is Simon (Jonny Lee Miller), an employee at Van Helsing’s company and something of an adopted son.
Meanwhile in New Orleans, with Mardi Gras in full swing, young Mary (Justine Waddell) is having terrible nightmares. We learn that Mary is not only Van Helsing’s estranged daughter, but that through some strange plot points she also has some of Dracula’s blood running through her veins. It’s this blood that has attracted Dracula to Mary, and besides invading her dreams the bloodsucker wants to possess her. Can Van Helsing and Simon stop him in time?
“Dracula 2000” takes the standby Dracula myth and gives it a good spin. The re-invented history of Van Helsing and Dracula is quite good, and you would need to have seen many uninspired retreads of the vampire/Dracula legend in order to fully appreciate Lussier and Soisson’s background work here. Of note is the casting of Christopher Plummer, who makes a very intriguing Van Helsing, a man who has taken the burdensome task of keeping Dracula locked away upon himself. His decision has cost him his wife and daughter and most of his life, and as a result Van Helsing is on the verge of physical collapse. Still, the old man soldiers on to the bitter end, determined to carry out his duty.
Jonny Lee Miller (“Plunkett and Macleane”) makes a good heir to Plummer’s vampire hunter, while Justine Waddell suffers from too much moping and internal anguish. Of course this is the fault of the screenplay, which requires her to do little except have nightmares and look freaked out. Also, Mary’s sudden ability to do gravity defying stunts courtesy of wireworks toward the end is a bit much.
Speaking of which, “Dracula 2000” has some of the most horrendous wireworks since the technique traveled to America. I mean, it just looks awful. To say that all the flying around is a bit fake is an understatement; they’re just horrible. Director Lussier also makes some terrible gaffes with continuity. Of note is a scene on a plane, where continuity errors abound. Was someone awake during the editing process?
“Dracula 2000” isn’t a horror movie. It’s never scary, and I don’t think the filmmakers were actually going for scary. (If they were, then they failed miserably.) As an action film, it works much better. Jonny Lee Miller makes an effective vampire hunter, and while Gerard Butler (“Reign of Fire”) seems to be much too restrained, he makes a good opponent to Miller’s Simon. The movie also throws in three sexy vampires under Dracula’s command, played by Jeri Ryan, Jennifer Esposito (“Backflash”), and Colleen Fitzpatrick. Talk about giving in to temptation!
“Dracula 2000” is not the worst vampire movie I’ve seen, but it’s definitely not the best either. There are some very good moments, most of them featuring the frail Van Helsing as he attempts to battle the fast and deadly vampires. Also, I appreciated the background given to Dracula’s aversion to silver, crosses, and God, as well as Dracula’s “true” origins. Not bad work, but it could have been much better.
Patrick Lussier (director) / Patrick Lussier, Joel Soisson (screenplay)
CAST: Omar Epps …. Marcus
Christopher Plummer …. Abraham
Jonny Lee Miller …. Simon Sheppard
Justine Waddell …. Mary Heller
Gerard Butler …. Dracula