Bram Stoker’s Dracula – 4 stars

Francis Ford Coppola’s take on the Dracula story is wild, occasionally campy, and very funny.  It also has a few scares, but one gets the sense that Gary Oldman’s Transylvanian count is not to be taken too seriously.

After all, he appears in, by my count, 7 guises, including a nifty pile of rats, and he is enjoyably over-the-top in all of them.  Not to be outdone, Anthony Hopkins as Van Helsing is near giddy in his thirst for scene-chewing and vampire heads.

In its first half, the picture feels very Baz Luhrmann meets Saturday-at-the-movies serial, but it settles into a more leisurely pace in the middle, as Dracula attempts to take root in London and the opposition grows around him.  The picture is a gas, and the rejection of a serious, brooding vampire is welcome.  Well, perhaps it is not quite a rejection – Oldman tries so hard to be otherworldly, he just may be the last one in on the joke.

The film is also surprisingly erotic, as is evidenced by poor Jonathan Harker’s seduction at the hands of Dracula’s babes and the complete, sensual overload delivered to Winona Ryder and Sadie Frost as they fall under Dracula’s sway and use all of their wiles to get at necks.

Speaking of, Harker is played by Keanu Reeves, who was then fresh off of two Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure movies.  If you thought Kevin Costner had problems with an English accent in Robin Hood, you have to check out this performance (both Costner and Reeves are listed in the Top Five Most terrible British Accents, and rightfully so).  Reeves can hold his accent – barely – for one line, and then, he’s one syllable away from being all San Dimas and “duuuude” and then, he’s back to a dramatic and unconvincing “Carfax Abbey” and then, he’s dropped it again.  Reeves appears so uncomfortable, you can feel that stoner, slacker Bill just dying to get out.  Even if you hate this movie, watch it solely for Keanu’s solitary struggle.

Great, grandiose soundtrack as well:

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