I'll give the folks at Universal Pictures credit: they've been paying attention. Rather than simply trot out Dracula for the umpteenth reboot, the studio has decided to create an interconnected cinematic universe around its classic monsters, beginning with the world's most famous vampire in DRACULA UNTOLD, which feels like a combination of a superhero origin story with "Game of Thrones"-style scope.
Rather than drawing Dracula (Luke Evans from THE HOBBIT series, FAST & FURIOUS 6) as a villain, first-time feature director Gary Shore makes him a heroic figure, fighting for the survival of his Transylvanian people against the invading Turkish hordes, led by Sultan Mehmed (Dominic Cooper from CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER), who wish to take 1,000 young boys from Dracula's (real name Vlad) people to turn into child soldiers.
In order to gain enough power to take on the Turks, Vlad travels into the mountains nearby where there is a cave with a monster inside. Turns out, it's actually an ancient vampire (Charles Dance), who grants Vlad vampire powers (and weaknesses) temporarily, but if he drinks any blood, he'll stay that way forever. Assuming the great love for his people and family (including wife Mirena and son Ingress, played respectively by Sarah Gadon and Art Parkinson) will stave off his bloodlust, Vlad takes on the entire Turkish army single handedly using his new power (he gets a lot of millage out of turning his body into a flock of bats).
When it becomes clear that Vlad cannot function during daylight hours, the Turks and those he's protecting begin to suspect his vampiric tricks and adjust their tactics accordingly. And for a PG-13 film, things get rather gory with blood, burning vampires and just general grossness. A bit of the story's drama is undercut by the fact that we know the renamed Dracula will not die, but the filmmakers find other ways to keep us guessing about the fates of other, less interesting characters. Outside of Evans, and possible Dance (a "Game of Thrones" veteran), none of the characters is particularly interesting enough for me to care whether they lived or died.
According to the blurb about DRACULA UNTOLD provided by Universal, the film "heralds a ... rebirth of the age of monsters," which I'm fine with, as long as the studio finds a way to incorporate Abbott & Costello. But future monstrous endeavors are going to have to do more than just borrow tropes and ideas from familiar superhero films and fantasy series.
There isn't much to get excited about with DRACULA UNTOLD other than where things might go from here. I get it, doing something new with vampires today is tough, but there are other monsters in the Universal army that might inspire some original ideas from other filmmakers. Let's hope so. If the idea of this new universe strikes your fancy, you might enjoy this jumping-off point. Otherwise, stick to the more human stories out right now.