Now I'm not a huge fan of most Vampire films and TV series. The subject has had the life sucked out of it (no pun intended!) so many times, by so many people, who feel they have a unique take on the idea, and often change only one or two variables ever so slightly. It is a fascinating sub-genre of supernatural fiction, but since the original Bram Stoker tale, there have been few stories to stand out, with rare exceptions like Matheson's 'I Am Legend' (The novel).
Dracula 2000 (Or 2001 in the UK) stands out by genuinely doing something unique and different, in the midst of all the Buffys and Blades. There are some very neat twists, not all original, but combined to create an enjoyably satisfying film, though the final revelation stands out as one of the most interesting concepts in recent years, from an otherwise tired genre. For once, the religious undertones of the Dracula myth are used to good effect, truly integrated with the story, while the characters, even the most minor, are often at least amusing and engaging.
Also to its credit, perhaps surprisingly for such a film, are the performances. Gerard Butler makes for an excellent Dracula, while Justine Waddell shines as a convincing and nuanced lead. Christopher Plummer plays an interesting and world-weary Van Helsing, with Johnny Lee Millar as his protégé, plunged too early into the thick of things. Even the supporting cast is strong, with the likes of Jennifer Esposito, Omar Epps, and Jeri Ryan, obviously relishing their roles.
The film is obviously aimed at a young audience, yet while modern, is surprisingly restrained, never trying too hard to woo the all-action 'Blade' or 'Matrix' audience at the expense of its story or credibility. The script is sharp, witty, and intelligent, while Marco Beltrami's score sets the mood perfectly, and Carol Spier's production design gives everything a suitably detailed and textured atmosphere.
It's not a perfect film. At roughly around the 90 minute mark, it sorely screams out for more character based scenes, yet these are small concerns for a movie that can honestly hold its head high, in the overly polluted sea of vampire fiction.