---in a campy sort of way.
First, watch the DVD deleted scenes, extended scenes and audition featuring Gerard Butler. That will get you in the right mood! Then start the film.
The first 30 minutes are a mess. After the opening scenes with Christopher Plummer as Van Helsing, that lays the groundwork for the story, they could have skipped all the scenes about the stealing of the coffin and just had Plummer tell Simon (Johnny Lee Miller) "we been robbed!".
But the young people and the robbery and taking the coffin by plane and it crashing - all could be handled by voice-over. This is just a mess and not one of the actors are interesting or have any charisma. Especially Solina (Jennifer Esposito) going into the vault, dark and creepy and skulls and gad! you get the picture. We are in for a fright! Bah!!! So lame.
Our first great shot of Dracula (Butler), is on the plane when he walks into the section of the plane and reaches out for Solina - and like any sane woman, she goes right to him. The love bite is next. Um Hmmmm! In the meantime, Mary Van Helsing (Justine Waddell - child like and innocent) is having dreams/nightmares seeing Dracula in her mirror. She is speechless, and we are too. OMG! She keeps saying "wake up - you're dreaming" but then he comes close and sniffs her and says "you're real" and I have to pause the film and fan myself.
Troubled Mary goes to the church in New Orleans where the priest is a childhood friend, to get some answers about her Mother and as he is putting the candles out and turns to Mary - it is him, the big D. A gaze to die for. The next is Dracula perched like a gargoyle on the church parapet above the Mardi Gras revelers and he says "Farewell, Princess." Perfect!
Down at street level, he walks among the drunken revelers with a bemused look. There is a giant TV screen showing dancers silhouettes, there are beads and coins tossed at him as he looks on with a knowing smile. He watches the giant screen flash images of atom bombs, rock stars, lingerie ads and women mud wrestling and says "Brilliant." Great satire!
His walk through the "Virgin" record store is iconic, with all the young gals turning to look as he passes by. He gets Lucy, Mary's friend to take him to their home. His comment to Lucy, when she can't come up with a word to describe Mary's mothers decor of the house "catholic?" is priceless. And to her query "would you like some coffee?" he says " I don't drink----------coffee." Timed perfectly with just the right look. And of course, he has her on the bed and on the ceiling! Faint!!!
It is like there are two films here - one a brilliant satire with great lines. And the other an incoherent teen/slasher/blood-fest. But it is almost possible to just start anywhere after the first 30 minutes and the story is interesting and makes sense of the Jesus Christ/Judas theme.
The cinematography has some beautiful scenes. The Red Hall - the curtains blowing and the eastern theme music for the desert and cross scenes. The few lines Dracula(Butler) utters are great and with timing and marvelous expression. "The Bible is propaganda." "You think you can defend her with the Bible." To Mary "Everything I have is yours; and all you are is mine." (Shades of The Phantom.)
Dracula to the Jesus Cross "I give them (revelers below) what they crave most. All the pleasures you denied them." And his gesture to Mary - arm and hand out as the camera pans away and he says "come let us feast" and the kisses. Wow!! Nellie bar the door. I want some of that!
(8/10 - would have been higher but that first 30 minutes is just bad!)
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