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November 16, 1992 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-11-16

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The Michigan Daily- Monday, November 16,1992-- Page 9

In Coppola's latest horse opera, "Bram Stoker's Dracula," Bill Campbell, Cary Elwes, Anthony Hopkins, and Richard E. Grant prepare to cut off the head and heart of this corpse. Too bad audiences can't do the same to the movie.

'Dracula': O how

by Megan Abbott
Ihe horror, the horror ... how can a
master director make a film that looks so
sumptuous, tells such a fascinating story,
and promises so much turn Out to be such an
empty experience?
The answer lies somewhere in the morass
that is "Bran Stoker's IDracula." It did ap-
pear that this film might at last be the first
faithful adaptation of Stoker's stunning and
complex novel. And, in a sense, it is. Francis
Ford Coppola and screenwriter unes V.
IHart ("Ilook") retain all the major characters
and plot elements and seem very interested
in one of the foremost issues of the novel -
that is, the way in which men in Victorian
society react to female sexuality.
Unfortunately, Coppola and Hart are also
very interested in sin, redemption, high ro-
mance, Christian hypocrisy, every possible
blood metaphor, the nature of insanity, dop-
pelgangers, mass murder, and lost love.
Stoker's novel doubtless touches on some of
these issues, but this is more than one movie
can handle. And what is lost in the process is
any way of emotionally reaching the audi-
ence, whether to hornify or touch them. A
curious disengagement overtakes viewers

who are bombarded with what is simply too
much of everything.
Surely, one can't deny the power and
sheer beauty of Coppola's vision. This film
looks spectacular. Images of Dracula's in-
carnations, be it wolf or other beast, haunt
the screen. Skies are stained red. Crucifixes
emit hot blood. Each image folds into the
Bram Stoker's Dracula
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola; written by
.ames V. Hart; with Gary Oldman, Anthony
Hopkins and Winona Ryder.
next through seamless special effects. 'T'he
driving force behind these effects is the use
of metaphor and symbol, not Coppola
merely exhibiting his array of filmic tech-
niques. But after two hours, one becomes
utterly desensitized to the high stylization.
The barrage to the senses is too much, and it
leaves no way to connect the story to the
viewers.
Gary Oldman's Count Dracula tries to
provide that connection. His performance
requires utter metamorphoses from wolf to
ancient man to handsome young prince to

the mighty
winged beast. It is easy to see why Coppola Helsing is
chose the chameleon-like Oldman. He man- form an a
ages the most complex interpretation of the IIopkins s
doomed count seen in film yet. With a low, "No, I only
trilling voice and haunted face, he embodies off her hea
the violent and seductive qualities of Moreovf
Dracula. His passion is made quite real. ({)ne poignant R
sees centuries of pain behind his eyes. shapen stra
Unfortunately, all of Gldman's work is insects hee
hampered by the regrettable performance of three utterl
the usually excellent Winona Ryder. 11cr dead sexuai
Mina remains utterly vacuous from begin- Grant ("TI
nino to end. Still a very young actor, she is into his gi
blindsided by such heavyweights as Oldman Cary Elwe
and Anthony Hopkins. Ryder never lets us chemistry
under Mina's skin. Her range seems to and guns,
merely go rom surprise to confusion. In personifiie
fact, Sadie Frost's vivacious and wild Lucy such envio
outdoes Ryder in scene after scene. Frost beloved. If
knows the value of camp in her lusty charac- vigorated1
ter and she embraces it. ten part f

have fallen

asked whether he wants to per-
utopsy on an alleged vampire.
miles and says, quite sincerely,
y want to remove her heart and cut
d."
Ver, Tom Waits surprises as a quite
enfield. In a nice twist, his mis-
aitjacket leads him to resemble the
eats. And as Lucy's suitors - all
y bewitched by her living and un-
lity - the underrated Richard I.
he Player") breathes the most life
ddy character. But all three ((rant,
s, and Bill Campbell) have great
together. With their big knives
they seek out the sexual threat
d by the mysterious count who has
us access to the bedroom of their
i only their vitality could have in-
Keanu Reeves, whose underwrit-
orces him to sleepwalk through
e film .
"Braun Stoker's l)racula" looks
as, with only a fewc exceptions,
acting, the problem remains,
is there? In all the symbols and
utifiul images. Coppola has forgot-
ry. Ie sets the scenario, then for-

gets where it's going. There is none of the
novel's drive or sense of spiraling doom.
Instead, we have a pretty, but empty, picture.
It is partially due to the excessive mix olf
themes Coppola tries to incorporate - the
worst of which is to make the saga o[
Dracula a traditional love story. This generic
theme is destined to fail due to the sheer
"weirdness" of everything that works in
"Dracula." h'lhe fiery eroticism of Lucy, the
eccentric obsession of Van Helsing, the war
for control of the female body. the meaning
of blood-lust - these are all far more
interesting and worthy themes to explore in
"l)racula." And they could.. conceivably;
work in tandem. (Coppola realizes this. But
he uses every theme that works and ten
more, while trying to connect them all to a
hopelessly convoluted and bland love story.
In the end, the old lesson the still-great
auteur Francis FIord C'oppola might find in
his creation, "Dracula," is that if one tries to
do everything one usually ends up doing
nothing. However, it does seem that
Coppola's grand failures are still more inter-
esting than your more average film success.
DRAM STOKER'S I)RACULA is playing at
Ann Arbor 1 & 2 anl .Showcase.

Indeed, the cast as a whole is admirable.
Anthony IHlopkins' Van IHelsing is wickedly
funny. Usually not the most subtle actor,
l-Iopkins radiates a quiet charm and good-na-
tured intellectual quackery as the famed
vampire hunter. I-Ic seems to be having great
fun in scenes such as the one in which Van

much of th
T'lhough
lush and h
formi dab Ic
what else
wildly beau
ten the stom

'Passenger 57' comes in for a crash landing

by Michelle Phillip
I tried to make a sincere attempt
to refrain from drawing any compar-
isons between "Passenger 57" and
"Die Hard." But as you might have
guessed from the trailer, the film is
exactly like "lie Ilard." Except
Black. And in an airplane. Anyone
who has seen any of the "Die I-lard"
movies (and maybe even "U Inder
Siege") will be able to pinpoint the
exact moments that are ripped of-.
This "llie IHrd" meets "Shaft"
meets "Airport '77" stars Wesley
Passenger 57
Directed by Kevin I looks; written by
David Lougheiy and Dan Gordon; with
Wesley Snipes
Snipes as John Cutter, an anti-terror-
ist expert on his way to Los Angeles
to become the head of security of
Atlantic Airlines. On the same flight
is Charles Rane (Bruce Payne), the
Alan Rickman-esque villain, who is
on his way to stand trial for two ur-
plane bombings.
Now of course, the FBI wouldn't
think to use somec of other form of
transportation for a known hijacker,
and this enables Rane to stash his
cronies in strategic places through-
out the plane. Once in the air, Rane
proceeds to shoot his way into con-
trol. Meanlwhile, our guy Cutter has
excused himself to the bathroom.
When he opens the door, he realizes
it is up to him to save the plane.
Don't worry: the entire film
doesn't take place in the plane,
though there is more dramatic ten-
sion when it's in the air. There is
plenty of shooting and killing and
general ass-kicking to go around.
But the overall impact of the film is
hllow. None of this underdevel-
(pped script's potential (yes, there is
a little) is tapped.
The burden of the film falls on
Snipes' shoulders, and he does a
good job of being the action herot. I
mea, he is at bad-ass. At onle point
he s~eshis gun and still beats the

Kevin I-looks direction borders
on the unimaginative. lie has a fetish
for gratuitous zooms and unneces-
sary swish pans. I almost got sick
watching some of the non-action se-
quences. The action scenes are good,
but that is not saying much, since

most films tend to be imnteresting as
long as something is going on. At
times, the movie holds as much cx-
citement as grocely shopping.
['or all his good looks and charm,
Snipes is not enough of a reason to
see this film. The love of action and

adventure is not enough. If, for some
burning desire, you need to see this
movie, do yourself a favor and poke
your eyes out.
PASSENGER 57 is playing at
.Sha c(t.C['.

Ji d i #iu l 1 i I}is a business!
Just ask the Finance staffers...
TIM HUNT, STEPHANY LEWIS, ANDREA STERN
AND HARRIS WINTERS
They help our paper come out daily - Thanks!

'4

z
3
A

Snipes, Bruce Payne and a Hitchcokian carousel in "Passenger 57."
ORDER OF OMEGA
Would like to welcome its new members: 1992-1993
Juniors

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Seniors
Ben Aliker
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