The frustrating thing is that Dracula is probably his most stylized film in years. I can't really think of another film that looks like this one. Everything in the film, including the sets and all of the props, looks glossy and fake. I don't know any other way to describe it. The reason must be the lighting and the cameras they used for the 3D process. (Oh yeah, did I mention this was released theatrically in 3D? Unfortunately, I was forced to settle for plain ol' 2D, which is fine with me. I don't think this film could possibly be improved by thrusting its shitty CGI effects in my face.) However, this stylized look, while at times strangely visually stunning, is nowhere near as artistic as Suspiria or Inferno – it merely makes the film look incredibly cheap.
The only element of Dracula that comes off well is the score by Claudio Simonetti. There is one scene, in which the Count ferociously dispatches several men in a matter of seconds, that displays Argento's trademark flair for gore, but the absolutely terrible CGI does not help matters. There are glimmers of genius behind certain moments, such as the giant preying mantis, but the execution was quite lacking, to put it nicely.
Another major problem is Dracula himself. Thomas Kretschmann was very sexy in The Stendhal Syndrome, despite the fact that he was playing a loathsome, psychopathic killer. Years later, however, Kretschmann just does not have the charisma that is necessary for the part of the Count. Hell, Richard Simmons would make a better Dracula! The acting is pretty terrible all around, including, as much as it pains me to say it, Asia Argento (whose work I normally enjoy) and Rutger Hauer – and they're the highlight! When the corpse-like Hauer finally appears as the most pathetic Van Helsing in recent memory, the movie does pick up slightly, in the same way that your drunk uncle livens up a boring family gathering by regaling you with endless tales of his sexual conquests.
If you view Dario Argento's Dracula as a comedy, as one must also do with his Phantom of the Opera, you're bound to get more enjoyment out of it, because, let's face it, who can possibly take this movie seriously when it features the following line: "He is evil! Do you hear me, Van Helsing?! EEEEEEEEEEVILL!!!!!!"
Let's hope that, for his next film, Argento will go back to making the kind of wild movies he's passionate about – for my money, Mother of Tears was a step in the right direction – rather than lame adaptations of classic novels or tired gialli with as much atmosphere as an episode of CSI.