After dozens of Dracula movies the notion that anything about the bloodsucker is still untold seems impossible. Yet we now have Dracula Untold (PG-13), filling in gaps we never knew existed, or were curious enough to ponder.
Like how aristocrat Vlad Tepes (Luke Evans) became such a type-O personality in the first place. Turns out he was a family man, ruling over a small kingdom looking suspiciously like Ireland. Things are cool until a rival king (Dominic Cooper) pulls a reverse Herod, demanding that the firstborn son of every family in Vlad's kingdom join his army. Which, of course, he'll use against Vlad's kingdom.
Vlad's wife (Sarah Gadon) makes a deal with witches to keep away the marauders, but there's a catch: Vlad must live forever as an undead plasma addict. Thanks, honey.
Reportedly this movie drops clues about Universal's planned crossover universe (a la Marvel's superheroes) featuring its stable of famous monsters. That list includes Frankenstein's creature, the Mummy and the Wolfman. In other words, every monster already remade numerous times but now it's a universe, you see.
Dracula Untold wasn't screened for critics in time for Weekend review. Let me know how it goes.
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KILL THE MESSENGER
Jeremy Renner, a.k.a. the Avenger with nothing much to do, stars in Kill the Messenger (R) as real-life newspaper reporter Gary Webb, who in 1996 exposed CIA shenanigans from a decade earlier.
Seems the agency was allowing cocaine into the United States for sale in poor urban neighborhoods to finance Contra rebels in Nicaragua. Ah, those wonderful Reagan years. Webb became the target of a CIA smear campaign that led to (spoiler alert) what officials called suicide in 2004. Since there were two gunshots in his head, that's debatable.
"Kill the Messenger is an All the President's Men with an unhappy ending," wrote Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter, "a cautionary tale about the potential downside of crusading journalism. ... This may appeal to some but not to most prospective viewers, who, in this Internet age of widespread document revelation, might not get too worked up about the flawed machinations of old-school journalism."
As such, Kill the Messenger opens Friday nationwide in limited release.
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YOU'RE NOT YOU
After Gone Girl unofficially opened awards season, it was only a matter of time before the first movie practically stamping its feet to be noticed would come along. That would be You're Not You (R), featuring a checklist of key Academy Award voter hooks.
Previous winner (twice!), check. Hilary Swank stars as Kate, bravely suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease (check) and going through a divorce (extra credit check). For a caregiver, she hires Bec (Emmy Rossum), who according to production notes is a "brash college student and would-be rock singer who can barely keep her wildly chaotic affairs, romantic and otherwise, together." (Supporting actress long shot, check.)
The notes reveal that "both women find themselves facing down regrets, exploring new territory and expanding their ideas of who they want to be." (Terms of Endearment-style, sisters doing for themselves, check.)
What You're Not You doesn't have is much of a distribution plan, opening Friday at Veterans 24 in Tampa, and video on demand.