Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Superbit

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Prince Vlad Dracula (Gary Oldman) has requested a visit from a young man named Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves), who is a lawyer by trade. Once Harker has entered his estate, Dracula imprisons him and after he sees a picture of the young man’s fiancee, he forges a plan to venture to England. Of course, his plans are not of the good kind and he wishes to use his future home as a feeding ground, as opposed to anything else. He also wants to locate Harker’s fiancee Mina (Winona Ryder), as she bears a strong resemblance to a lover of his, but one that died several lifetimes ago, but the love still burns in Dracula’s heart. But as he invades the area and begins a cycle of destruction & death, will anyone see the threat in time to prevent it, or even slow it down in the least? If it to be averted, it will take Mina, her friends, and the help of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins), if even that will be enough.

The latest addition to Columbia’s Superbit series is Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which is a surprise choice, at least in my eyes. I mean, all films should be given the best possible audio & video treatment, but with all their titles to choose from, this one seems like an odd selection. The film has its fans and critics like all movies, but this one seems to draw more of the latter, due to a variety of topics & approaches. I wasn’t too taken with the film the first time around, but it has grown on me and I even picked up Criterion’s special edition laserdisc set, which wasn’t too cheap at the time. Dracula has a lot of flaws and is not close to my favorite take on the tale, but I love the visuals and the cast is quite good also. Some of the performances come off as a tad forced, but Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder, and Gary Oldman turn in nice efforts, while Francis Ford Coppola supplies solid direction, though nowhere near his finest work. If you’re a fan of this movie, then this Superbit edition is the one to own, as the flick has never looked & sounded so good at home.

He has helmed some masterpieces in his time, but director Francis Ford Coppola has also been behind some real turkeys, without a doubt. And while Bram Stoker’s Dracula is not even close to his upper tier efforts, it is not down in the dumps with his worst material either, I’d place it somewhere near the middle of his scale. He opted to focus on visuals & mood above all else and that’s good news I think, but to some people, it was a rotten decision. The visuals are excellent however, with some wonderful and eerie production design, as well as superb lighting and camerawork, which showcases that production design in fine form. In truth, I wouldn’t have known this was a Coppola film if his name wasn’t on it, but I think his direction (or perhaps lack thereof) is just what was needed here. Other films directed by Coppola include The Godfather, Tucker: A Man and His Dream, The Outsiders, and Apocalypse Now. The cast here includes Anthony Hopkins (Hannibal, Titus), Winona Ryder (Little Women, Edward Scissorhands), Keanu Reeves (The Matrix, Point Break), and Gary Oldman (The Fifth Element, Air Force One).

Video: How does it look?

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As you’d expect from a Superbit release, the video is improved from prior editions and that includes Columbia’s previous DVD release. I viewed this a couple of times and the differences were quite obvious, as the image is sharper and subtle detail is more refined. So perhaps not everyone would be impressed there, but in addition to that, the colors are more vibrant & rich, the contrast is starker, and the print seems cleaner, though not by too much on the last issue. In truth, this is about as good as this film can look on DVD and as such, it is given the highest score available.

Audio: How does it sound?

As per usual with these Superbit titles, you’ll find 5.1 surround options in both Dolby Digital and DTS, so both camps should be satisfied. I found both tracks to be excellent and while not quite reference level, both come close enough to deserve lots of praise. The surrounds are used often and in creative ways, but the audio never seems forced or out of place, so the mix remains natural and very active throughout. I was stunned by how deep and powerful the bass is here also, as it really kicks and does so quite often as the movie rolls ahead. But this power never overshadows the subtle touches or dialogue, as vocals sound clean and crisp at all times. The DTS has a very slight in a few scenes, but whichever one you choose to use, you should be more than pleased here. This disc also includes subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai, should you need those options.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc includes no bonus materials.

Disc Scores