18 November 2003 | jaywolfenstien
Another unbalanced trilogy
So the original plot outline of Dracula 2000 comes to light in its sequel, Dracula II: Ascension. Gripe #1 as indicated by my summary, it's an unbalanced trilogy. Meaning? You get one stand alone film (Dracula 2000), and one two-part film (Dracula 2: Ascension & Dracula 3: Legacy) which go nicely together, requires the other to complete the idea, but really leaves the first one kind of hanging by its stand-alone, self-contained, lonesome. For other such trilogies, see also Star Wars (New Hope through Jedi), Back to the Future, and Matrix.
Unfortunately, Dracula II takes the path of Dracula 2000 and tries to throw a few shockers at the audience, making the same mistake of its predecessor in thinking that shocks and plot twists can replace decent story telling. Even worse, Dracula 2000 used up all the good twists. Jason Scott Lee as a butt-kicking priest? Um . . . that might be cool, and Lee's pretty cool. A film that gives action a back seat in favor of resurrecting' Dracula and letting him subtly use/influence the people around him? I'm down with that. But the film is directed by the same man who did Dracula 2000, and well, Dracula 2000 had a lot more elements that could make it work and, well, you know where this heading . . .
Then I found myself asking questions like, what exactly do those priests do to the vampire bodies in the morgue? What is Father Uffizi's lighter fluid (or holy water, whatever it was) going to do to Dracula's corpse that hanging him in sunlight isn't going to do? If they do something else (not shown) like behead the bodies, why bother burning them?
Or how bout: why wasn't Uffizi mentioned in the original film? Where's the Van Helsing offspring? Why must the actors do that hideously fake and unintimidating vampire hiss? And while they're at it, why do the `so liberating, blah, blah, blah' boastful speech when they turn? Why is this film so cliché in its setup?
I'm all for suspending disbelief for the sake of enjoying a film, but there comes a point where the clichés and questions add up beyond what you're capable of ignoring.
Dracula II: Ascension has 2 big twists to its plot. One is expected, typical of films like this, and incredibly lame - I never would have guessed who was in league with who, let's come out of the closet while we're at it. The second twist is actually very well executed, and much harder to spot. It would've been really great if they just ended the film and the series on that note instead of revving up for the third film, but I get the feeling that without the third film the writers would have opted for a happier, family friendly, resolution.
Oh well, we'll see where Dracula III leads.