Dracula 2000

Dracula 2000 (2000)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Jonny Lee Miller, Justine Waddell, Gerard Butler
Extras: Commentary Track, Deleted and Extended Scenes, Storyboards, Featurette, Auditions, Trailer

As the name implies, ’Dracula 2000’ is a modern updating of the classic vampire tale, but it’s also a pseudo-sequel to Bram Stoker’s original tale. The film opens in London, where Matthew Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer), grandson of the Abraham Van Helsing from ’Dracula’ has the great vampire sealed in his vault. Unfortunately, a group of thieves, assuming that there must be gold in Van Helsing’s great vault, instead find Dracula’s coffin and take it with them. This group, led by Omar Epps, then board a flight to the U.S. Once airborne, Dracula (Gerard Butler) awakens, and the flight takes a detour to New Orleans. Once there, Dracula begins a search of Mary (Justine Waddell), with whom he shares a mysterious connection. Meanwhile, Van Helsing, and his assistant Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) are hot on the trail of Dracula and hope to stop him before he reaches Mary.

While ’Dracula 2000’ offers an exciting opening, with the robbery, and an interesting conclusion (which gives Dracula a new origin), the middle plays like any other vampire film. Dracula wanders around in black clothing and creates a harem (Jennifer Esposito, Colleen Ann Fitzpatrick (AKA: Vitamin C), and Jeri Ryan (AKA: 7 of 9)), while searching for Mary. Van Helsing and Simon are always one step behind Dracula and are constantly having the stakes knocked from their hands when they’ve had plenty of time to kill the vampire. Director/co-writer/co-editor Patrick Lussier has edited many of Wes Craven’s films, as well as ’Halloween: H20’, so he knows how to shoot a horror picture and gives the film a nice, lush look. And, to his credit, there are some suspenseful scenes. But, the majority of the film feels like something that we’ve all seen before, and while it does try to infuse new life into the ’Dracula’ mythos, ’Dracula 2000’ does little to modernize the vampire film.

While ’Dracula 2000’ didn’t exactly knock ’em dead at the box office, Buena Vista has given the film a decent DVD release. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and is enhanced for 16×9 TVs. The image is sharp and very clear, giving us a transfer that is essentially pristine. There is no distortion or noise, and the picture is stable throughout. The colors are very lush and rich, and as is to be expected, the reds, which dominate the film, look great. The audio on this DVD is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. While this track offers sufficient audio quality throughout the movie, it really comes to life at the 1:08:00 point, a scene, which can well be used by many as a surround sound demo! Also of note is the hard rock soundtrack, which offers nice bass response throughout the film.

This DVD is loaded with extras, starting with audio commentary featuring Lussier and co-writer Joel Soisson. This is a pretty good commentary, as the two give scene specific comments throughout and are fairly candid in their talk. Be warned, however, that at times Soisson’s comments come from the right front channel and depending on your speakers, may sound very muffled. We next have a 9-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, which offers interviews with cast and crew, and less clips from the film than the average Disney featurette. For you missing footage fanatics, there are four extended scenes (with optional commentary by Lussier) and four deleted scenes (with optional commentary by Lussier and Soisson). One of the deleted scenes is a longer version of how Van Helsing captured Dracula in the first place. One of the eight storyboard sequences offered on the DVD is the original opening for the movie, which wasn’t shot due to budget constraints. In a unique move, we get videotaped audition footage featuring Gerard Butler (apparently trying out for ’Jesus Christ Superstar’), Justine Waddell, and Colleen Ann Fitzpatrick. And, finally, the DVD includes the theatrical trailer for ’Dracula 2000’, which is presented full-frame.