January 14, 2001 -- Most vampire movies are downright awful, but "Dracula 2000" is better than most, achieving some suspense and a lot of creepiness with some deft direction by veteran horror film editor Patrick Lussier, backed by a lot of flashy special effects and competent acting. You've got the usual blood and gore, paired with low-cut dresses and heaving bosoms.
The title role is played effectively by Gerard Butler, who has that suave, but dangerous look to him. The dashing young hero, Simon Sheppard, is played by Jonny Lee Miller of "Trainspotting." Sheppard is the loyal assistant to Abraham Van Helsing (played by veteran actor Christopher Plummer). The two run Carfax Antiques, formerly home of Carfax Abbey, in England. The business is robbed of a coffin containing you-know-who. Sheppard and Van Helsing head off to America to stop Dracula.
Dracula hangs out in New Orleans, looking for Mary Heller (played by Justine Waddell). He's related to her by blood. Van Helsing and Sheppard try to save her and to destroy the team of vampires that Dracula has created. While the other vampires can be killed, it turns out that Dracula cannot be killed, only held prisoner. That explains why he's still around after all these years.
The movie has a unique explanation for the origin of Dracula, one that I've never heard before. Suffice it to say, Dracula is not his real name. It also explains why Dracula is affected by certain Christian religious symbols. In one scene, Dracula is burned by pages of the Bible, which come shooting out of the book for no good reason. That's about the only surprise in this movie. It is pretty much by the numbers. It is squarely in the vampire genre. It is just better executed than most. There are some in-jokes in the movie. In one scene, Butler delivers a nice takeoff on the old Bela Lugosi line, "I never drink ... coffee."
Others appearing in the movie are Colleen Anne Fitzpatrick as Lucy, Jennifer Esposito as Solina, Danny Masterson as Nightshade, Jeri Ryan (of the "Star Trek Voyager" TV series) as Valerie Sharp and Omar Epps as Marcus. While Justine Waddell doesn't have enough charisma to carry a leading role in the film, most of the rest of the cast does well enough. Veteran horror film director Wes Craven is the film's executive producer and his production company is one of the production companies associated with the film. Lussier and Craven have worked together on several horror films. It rates a C+.
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