Never has the initial sight of the papyrus font given me such low expectations for a Victorian vampire drama. From the token beginning shot of Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ glistening body rising out of steamy waters to the slo-mo sword fight on top of a Victorian roof, Sky’s Dracula was a Hollywood director’s vision of Victorian London.
Rhys Meyers plays Dracula, under the alias of the American entrepreneur Alexander Grayson, who arrives in London set on revenge against the ancient organisation called the Order of the Dragon, who have taken a leaf from the Illuminati’s book and have become heads of industries and powerful members of society. To make matters more convoluted, an uncanny reincarnation of Dracula’s dead wife turns up, presumably so Dracula has some unobtainable female to stalk throughout the gloomy Victorian nights.
My main issue with Dracula is the dialogue. You would never have guessed it was set in Victorian London as most of the characters sound like they belong in the 21st Century, and some of the Victorian attitudes appear to have been adapted to match. In one memorable scene a woman is participating in a lecture on medicine, but it is hard to believe that she would have been so well received by her male peers in the early 20th Century. The dresses also look like the modern interpretation of luxurious Victorian costume, with feather collars, some rather risqué plunging necklines and bright garish colours to match. Although they are a marvel to behold, when paired with the modern dialogue they make the setting appear like a rather drawn-out Victorian fancy dress ball for the elite.
The one redeeming feature of Dracula is Nonso Anozie (of Game of Thrones fame), who plays Dracula’s right-hand man Renfield. His dry observations about Dracula’s approach to Victorian society and his gentle command of the high-flying society members around him was a refreshing change from the often stilted conversations and forced characterisation of some central cast members.
Overall, Dracula doesn’t yet appear to be anything out of the ordinary. It is clearly a Hollywood take on the legendary vampire, and has set itself out to be a much more modern, action-packed series with a focus of Rhys Meyers flashing his pearly canines and seducing a number of tantalisingly bared necks.
Mind you, at least sunlight didn’t make him sparkle.
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