Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Keanu Reeves
Have I Seen it Before: I’m sorry, I got distracted by the question. I heard a voice whispering for me to see him, whatever that means.
Did I Like It: At this point, I may be burned out on the Dracula mythos (for any number of reasons). But even so, this movie is interested in doing a lot things not necessarily seen before in Dracula films, that I think it all holds together.
First of all, this movie is a marvel of casting. Between Cary Elwes, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins, Richard E. Grant, and Billy “The Motherfuckin’ Rocketeer” Campbell, the call sheet is like a mid-90s party and everyone is invited.
Even Keanu Reeves, who history and assumption assumes is miscast in the role of Jonathan Harker equates himself well in the proceedings, if his British accent is occasionally wavering, but not in a Kevin Costner sort of way. Gary Oldman is a well-oiled acting machine, bringing vivid life to all of the dread count’s various shades. The only member of the cast who seems in over their head is Sadie Frost as the ill-fated Lucy Westerna. One can’t help but wonder if a bigger star, like a Michelle Pfeiffer* or Julia Roberts** might have offered a more memorable performance.
The movie that surrounds these performances feels a little long, even though it comes in at just a little bit over two hours. This may be a byproduct of the Coppola aesthetic. Still, there is a playful quality about the film. Beginning with an aesthetic pulled directly from F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1992), slowly but surely transitioning into a more modern (or at least, modern for the time) monster movie with sumptuous photography and makeup work meant to startle more than inspire dread. Coppola loves movies so dearly, and he wants us to love this one too. His efforts at seduction are mostly, if not entirely successful.
*Although in that universe, we would have likely been deprived of her performance in Batman Returns, and I don’t think that is a Faustian bargain I am willing to make.
**Which I’m not that in favor of, mainly because Julia Roberts has been and always will be a frightful bore. Prove me wrong.