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Van Helsing

Reviewed by Ogre3000

Welp, this started out great! In glorious black and white, picking up the Frankenstein story at the beginning, but seemingly at it's end too. Villagers with pitchforks and torches storm Castle Frankenstein right after the Monster's "birth," and the usual biz, it ends in a fiery tragedy, man and monster destroyed ('til the next movie in the old days). And yet, the opening is set in Transylvania and we learn that the experiment was backed by Count Dracula and set in 1887. Eh? And Dracula leaves in horrible anger and we cut to...

...Paris, outside the Notre Dame Cathedral. Van Helsing is pursuing an evil of science, Mr. Hyde (the voice of Robbie Coltrane). This version is very much like the one in the comics and movie of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen," a huge, nasty, cigar-smoking hulk simply brimming with delight in his villainy. Mission accomplished, Van Helsing returns to the Vatican (he is a secret supernatural enforcer agent of course, believed to be a mass murderer) for a briefing and rearming that reminded me a lot of 007. Soon, with the help of his "Q," Friar Carl (David Wenham- "Faramir" of the LOTR trilogy) they are off to Transylvania to help the last of a monster-fighting clan, the Valerious family. Next, we see the last two members of the clan, fighting a werewolf and the tragic results. Later, Van Helsing meets the last of the family, Anna and they help fend off an attack by "The Weird Sisters," the brides of Dracula.

Alright, moving on to where this movie went wrong, after about an hour, more or less, the movie really began to drag. It was action/fight, then breathless romance, then more action/fight, maybe a chase or daring escape but quickly it got old. All the characters save Van Helsing, Anna and Carl seemed either blank or over-blown scene-chewing. A few times I winced at their Dracula that would explode with rage suddenly without warning. The only one that turned in a heartfelt performance (besides Jackman) worthy of the "old school Universal Monsters" was Shuler Hensley as Frankenstein's Monster.

And also, it didn't help that so much CGI was used and some of it very lame and overwhelming. Some of the SFX were good, the Monster, the various labs, the entrance into Dracula's true lair, etc. but most, the werewolves, the "Weird Sisters" and their offspring, just awful and very obviously fake.

Welp, I can't recommend it, nor will I see it again (I saw it free to begin with! I wanted my time back!) nor buy the DVD. 1 star divided between Jackman as the haunted Van Helsing and the Monster.

Till next time,
Carl, aka OGRE3K

 

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Writer/Director
Stephen Sommers

Released
May 7, 2004

Cast
Hugh Jackman
Kate Beckinsale
Richard Roxburgh
David Wenham
Shuler Hensley
Elena Anaya
Robbie Coltrane

Full Credits at IMDb

Available on DVD and Blu-Ray