10/28/13

DRACULA II: ASCENSION - REVIEW


Well that franchise died quickly...

Now I'm not going to pretend that Dracula 2000 was a masterpiece that reinvented the entire horror genre but it was certainly much better than this!

The first film was pretty trashy but it had its charm: you had Christopher Plummer as Van Helsing, Dracula checking out Virgin Megastores, it was ludicrous but kinda fun. Dracula II: Ascension is not so much ludicrous, although it most definitely is, as it is altogether poorly conceived. The main problem with this sequel, for me, was the plot. Why would you make a Dracula film called Dracula II and have the iconic vampire strapped helpless by a net for 99% of it?! Really, the film should have just been about Jason Scott Lee's badass priest going around the world killing vampires, and you can tell it wanted to be. Unfortunately, it had to also somehow link itself with the first film AND prompt a sequel so what we're left with is a film which is nothing more than a bridge between something enjoyably dumb and something slightly less enjoyably dumb. Nothing happens in this movie! Dracula is revived and his new Billy Idol-esque appearance is never mentioned, then he is chained up and used for scientific research by a guy in a wheelchair wanting to harness the vampire's strength. Oh and you also have a whole bunch of forgettable characters including some woman who gets bitten early on and only feels the effects right at the end of the movie because it's more convenient plot-wise. Meanwhile, Jason Scott Lee walks around doing cool stuff and being all intense yet never really being important as a character and Jason London offers a little comic relief while waiting for a more substantial role in Dracula III: Legacy.

The film has a couple of interesting ideas which could have helped make an entertaining vampire movie but it never uses them properly. It's literally just running out the clock before Dracula III gets made and Rutger Hauer signs that bloody contract. The pace of the film is snail-like and the lack of anything unique or involving becomes distracting very quickly. Don't worry if you space out or start doing chores in your house while the movie plays, you're not losing your mind: the film IS in fact that dull. Now I won't be too harsh with it seeing as it's a cheap direct-to-video sequel but still, a better script could have easily made this a fun little flick. The idea that Dracula isn't really in this movie doing stuff should have been a blatant clue that something was amiss writing-wise. I'm no Dr Screenwriter but that would seem like an obvious call to rewrite the damn thing, right there! The most surprising thing about this movie, apart from Dracula's make-over and near-complete absence, is its ending. I'll give the film that, it tries something that very few films dare to try: the bad guy wins and there's no closure for anyone. This is indeed as frustrating, soulless and abrupt as it sounds and it would have been daring had the rest of the film made sense with it but as it stands it's just clumsy and a cheap way of trying to lure you in for another sequel. I guess maybe the film couldn't have had closure if it wanted it since nothing happens in it!

If you enjoyed Dracula 2000 and you're looking for more modern Dracula shenanigans, you might want to wait for a new franchise to begin or skip to the third film which, at least, had Rutger Hauer in it. Barring a couple of decent special effects and lols, this Dracula II is derelict and, ultimately, best avoided altogether.

Nothing to see here.

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