Dracula 2000

★★★
☆☆☆
Released: 
2000
Director: 
Patrick Lussier
Starring: 
Gerard Butler, Christopher Plummer, Jonny Lee Miller, Justine Waddel
The Setup: 
Dracula wakes up in 2000, finds his lost love, you know the deal.
Discussion: 

I actually saw this when it was out in the theater and thought it was reasonably fun if entirely stupid, and, after watching Francis Ford Coppola's BS Dracula, I thought it was time to watch it again. It turned out to remain entirely stupid but, surprisingly, still reasonably fun. By the way, a bit of trivia on IMDb tells us that Harvey Weinstein took the script to a screenwriter, asking for a complete rewrite because the script was awful, but saying he bought it for the sole reason of it being titled "Dracula 2000," which he thought was instant gold. I guess it does have a slightly better ring that Dracula 1973AD.

So we open with the voyage of the Demeter bringing Dracula to London in, you know, whenever. I guess the reason this is included is to explain why Dracula is in London and not Transylvania. Anyway, then we advance to 2000, where Christopher Plummer runs Carfax Antiques, with his adopted son Simon, played by one-time Mr. Angelina Jolie, Jonny Lee Miller. I'm afraid I find Mr. Miller somewhat inherently humorous. Plummer is Matthew Van Helsing, said to be grandson of the big Van Helsing from Dracula, and he tut-tuts "How my grandfather could have inspired a book...?!" Oh ha-ha.

Anyway, soon African-American thug and boyfriend of Jennifer Esposito as Solina, Marcus, comes in with his cru, which I believe contains at least one rapper, to break in to Carfax's vault. They do, and find nothing inside except this metal coffin. They are all amusingly stupid and declarative, and we soon learn that their ENTIRE plan hinged on the assumption that with all that security, whatever's inside must be super valuable, in monetary terms. One thing that I've never seen discussed is that it flies under the flag of "progressiveness" to have a black character who leads a gang of high-tech thieves who have "power" because they whip out guns at the slightest provocation, but no one pays attention to the racism of portraying these characters as IDIOTS. Marcus is the only major black character in the movie, and sure he's a badass motherfucker, but he's also a total fucking moron, which is what leaves the greatest impression. Incredible.

So they steal the coffin, assuming there must be, like, jewels inside or something, and load it onto some cargo plane headed for the States. This leads into one of the more amusing sequences of the movie, in which Dracula wakes up and kills them all. It goes on for a long time, and you know what's coming, but it proceeds with suspense and amusement, and all the their characters are contemporary idiots anyway, so you want to see them die. Now I was excited to learn that Dracula here is played by Gerard Butler, who was a nobody when this was released, and I remembered him as looking like an unsexy goon, but maybe--? No, turns out it is Gerard Butler, but he's got this horrendous long hair and is just idiotically conceived--in line with the mental level of the whole movie--and is about as sexy as an old tennis shoe. Still, there's a shot of a dead pilot tied to the wheel of the plane, and you realize that this is supposed to be the contemporary updating of the voyage of the Demeter! And there are other ways in which this movie apes the story of the original novel, and sure it has about as much to do with it as Clueless has to do with Pride and Prejudice, but it provides a slight sheen of amusement for the rare viewer of this who happens to have graduated from eighth grade.

Well, the plane crashes outside New Orleans. WHY New Orleans, you ask? I'd be willing to wager ten bucks it's because that's where the Anne Rice vampire novels are set. In N.O., we meet Mary, comely lass who works at the local Virgin store, allowing the movie to coast on the "joke" of having its female targets in shirts labeled "Virgin," and (theoretically) avoid the sheen that this is just all product placement. Needless to say, it doesn't work, and one of the few shocking things about this film is the sheer amount of time the Virgin logo is on screen. Mary has, apparently, been beset by dreams of Dracula, that are growing more and more real, etc. She's friends with Lucy, who is played by brief pop star Vitamin C, and if you watch there is a scene in which she stands in front of a kiosk displaying her own record.

Meanwhile, Plummer has discovered the missing coffin, and is headed off to the States to contain the menace. In here we discover that he is not the grandchild of Van Helsing, but actually IS Van Helsing, who was granted immortality by the scrape with Dracula in which he contained the bugger in the coffin we've seen, and has been alive since then. Mary, by the way, is actually his daughter. We also discover that he pronounces it "Dra-CUL-ya," because as surely you know, if you pronounce common words in a funny way, it means "authenticity." Simon discovers his plan and arrives in the States right behind him, implying that he was seated just a few rows back on the same plane. Van Helsing is just feet off the jetbridge when he sees a news report on the crashed plane, conveniently showing the recognizable coffin and giving its location. Tidy!

So he and Simon go off to this local church, where the relics are being stored (WHY are crashed plane wreckage and dead bodies being stored in a local church? Okay, let's not ask). Simon gets a crash course in vampires, and soon is locked in battle with several of them. In here a local news woman and Solina have also become vampires, so that later they, with Lucy, can become the trio of vampire women we know from the novel. Around now you might start to wonder, "So it was just dumb luck that this plane crashed right outside New Orleans, where Mary happens to be?" Or maybe she has some sort of vampire tracking device? Again, perhaps better simply to accept.

Meanwhile Mary is off at confession, and it could be deep into his performance before you realize--that priest is Nathan Fillion! Bonus. Meanwhile Dracula drops into the Virgin Megastore, where all the lovely ladies openly lust after him. Lucy decides that she wants some of that hair-product greased douchebag for herself, and takes him home, where he says "I don't drink... coffee," a reference to the classic Legosi version, which is such a pip that versions of that line have made it into virtually every Dracula movie made since. He goes upstairs and they soon have levitating-off-the-bed sex (been a while since I had THAT, sigh), because if you can't be with the reincarnation of your immortal beloved, hey, love the one you're with.

So Mary comes home and something seems weird. She heads upstairs and finds the impaled body of Van Helsing--no more Van Helsing!--and meets Lucy and her vampire co-sisters, whose presence magically transports her to the set of the Total Eclipse of the Heart video. We also notice that becoming a vampire also automatically gives you a perm. Mary runs out and realizes that she must escape to a highly-familiar New Orleans tourist destination, so she heads into one of the famous ornate graveyards. Blah, blah, chase, chase, and Dracula escapes with Mary while Simon is left holding his pud.

Oh, I forgot that somewhere in here Simon and Mary went to the library-located-in-a-church (I guess in New Orleans all municipal services are located in churches), where they discover the truth about Dracula's origins--a secret that has eluded Biblical, Literary and Historical scholars for centuries, but is at last revealed in Dracula 2000--that Dracula is actually... JUDAS! You know, the one from the bible. He betrayed Christ and they hung him from a rope that snapped, which... turned... him into the king of the vampires? Hey, I guess it could happen. I don't need to know all the details.

SPOILERS > > >
So Dracula takes Mary to a picturesque rooftop where he drinks her blood and turns her a trifle vampiric, but just a little bit. Simon shows up, and he does battle with the three vampire babes, who are vamping around and tossing their hair as a trio like a blood-sucking Destiny's Child, while Mary has resisted Dracula's advances and we learn, surprise, that being somewhat vampiric means that she now knows Wire-Fu! Geez, free perms, martial arts instruction--being a vampire comes with numerous additional features and benefits! Anyway, Mary hangs Dracula and survives a several-story fall--another vampire benefit--then the sun comes out and fries Dracula. We have a little epilogue in which Simon and Mary have moved back to London and now run Carfax Antiques, and we can tell that Mary has embraced her new life as a vampire-hunting badass, because she now wears black leather pants.
< < < SPOILERS END

It was certainly silly, but it's also pretty good fun, and what more can you really expect? It moves along quickly and has lots of jumps and scares and action and a smidgen of bits recognizable from the novel, and never strains for seriousness or meaning. I'm trying to think if there's any more to say about it, and--not really. It's just dumb fun. So if you like that--here you go.

Should you watch it: 

There's no real reason to except to kill time, but that has value in itself.