Van Helsing (2004)

vanhelsing_2004_poster
Van Helsing (2004)
  • Time: 131 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy
  • Director: Stephen Sommers
  • Cast: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh

Storyline:

Van Helsing is in the world to rid all evil, even if not everyone agrees with him. The Vatican sends the monster hunter and his ally, Carl, to Transylvania. They have been sent to this land to stop the powerful Count Dracula. Whilst there they join forces with a Gypsy Princess called Anna Valerious, who is determined to end an ancient curse on her family by destroying the vampire. They just don’t know how!

2 reviews

  • Stephen Sommers did pretty well when he made “The Mummy”, but when I saw this, I was so happy that the film had been made, because I had been looking forward to it for a long time, just another huge monster mash, like “The Monster Squad” or the “Abott and Costello” films. This film brought together the classic Monster Movies, like “Dracula”, “Frakenstein” and much more.

    I’m guessing some people hated this film, and thats OK, because it is their opinion and they can stick with it, I on the other hand think it had a good plot, pretty good acting, but a very good amount of suspense.

    Some of the Dialouge was a bit dumb, like the scene where Dracula is babbling about his life, and winging to his wives, he says (or yells) “No, I have no Heart!”, which was really laughable.

    Hugh Jackman does well as the part of Van Helsing, he was a good choice for the role, Kate Beckinsale was good as Anna Valerious, one of the descendants of her Grandfather to kill Dracula, David Wenham was funny as Van Helsing’s Gadget and Weapon provider Carl.

    The Plot was quite good and easy to follow, and it was nowhere near predictable, except the ending where Van Helsing kills Count Dracula, the usual good guy kills bad guy routine.

    I recommend it to all who are a fan of Action\Horror\Adventure films, or movies where they bring back classic film characters, so if you haven’t seen it, go rent it, buy it, it’s a fun film.

  • Hugh Jackman has had his fair share of films people always enjoy. The Prestige (2006) and Prisoners (2013) are of a couple that Jackman is well respected for. With this, Jackman has had a steady career of being cast in various films. By far the one everyone will remember him for though is his portrayal of Logan AKA Wolverine from X-Men (2000) and the numerous sequels and spin-offs that came after. There have only been a handful of features that Jackman probably thinks people shouldn’t bother seeing. By now one of his highest choices would probably be Movie 43 (2013), which received extremely negative reviews. Before this though, Jackman was in another film that isn’t exactly high end either. For that case it belongs to this film, an action fantasy movie that is cluttered with several things that make it a bore to sit through. It isn’t the absolute worst but it gets very tiresome over time. There just needed to be less of what was present and perhaps it might’ve felt smoother.

    Picking up where the animated prequel left off after chasing Mr. Hyde, Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is assigned to go after Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) who’s after an ancient family bloodline lead by Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale). Turns out Drac wants the secret of life created in Frankenstein’s monster (Shuler Hensley). After the financial success of The Mummy Returns (2001), Stephen Sommers came back for this project as the writer/director. This is probably where most of the problem lies. After the waves he made with his mummy franchise, Sommers just went on auto pilot, making action fantasy spectacles that became less and less engaging. Looking back I know my review to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009) needs a re-adjustment because after watching this, the same tropes are fairly much the same in there too. All the plots to the writing (whether main or sub) contain numerous genre clichés that are tired and simply uninteresting.

    Before the leads even physically meet it is foreshadowed that Van Helsing will fall for Anna. That’s no spoiler, it’s plainly obvious. Even the plot itself is overused. Why must every movie that involves Frankenstein’s monster have it be “the key” to whatever the villain is planning? There’s also unexplained mythology about several parts to the plot. Dracula’s weakness and Van Helsing’s backstory largely are just hinted at. Other than that there’s no in-depth look; so why even bother? Another problem is pacing. This movie is over 2 hours long and felt painfully slow, as if there wasn’t even a script to begin with. Plus, the plot dealing with Frankenstein’s monster isn’t introduced until around the halfway point. I, Frankenstein (2014) had the same overall plot, was a half an hour shorter and managed to make the viewing experience feel somewhat more enjoyable because of its trimmed running time. Here it just feels like a slow treck through action scene after action scene.

    The last issue to this creature feature is the cast. Jackman and Beckinsale are probably the only two who play it straight. Jackman was the better half more because he has better quips for certain situations. Other than these two people, every other actor is hammy beyond belief. It’s one thing if a single actor hams it up more than everyone else, but when the whole cast is being over the top, it just feels overly dramatic and in the most silliest of ways. Carl (David Wenham), Van Helsing’s assistant is nothing more than a sidekick. Will Kemp is useless as Anna’s brother. Kevin J. O’Connor as Igor (who looks like he has John Hurt’s makeup from The Elephant Man (1980)) is wasted because it’s shown he has opinions,…but that’s ignored. Shuler Hensley as Frankenstein’s monster is cool looking but does a lot of screaming. The same goes for Richard Roxburgh as Dracula. He by far chews the most scenery; MORE than Richard Grant from Rocky V (1990). It’s ridiculous.

    These are the positives to the film and they do make the viewing better but still not decent enough. Robbe Coltrane voicing Mr. Hyde was nice hearing again. The action, although too abundant, was mostly entertaining. Even though by today’s standards compared to 2004, even the CGI looked fairly good. This goes for the action sequences or the slower moving shots. The cinematography shot by Allen Daviau looks adequate too. Daviau was also the DP for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) and Empire of the Sun (1987). Composing the film score to this action fantasy movie was Alan Silvestri. Turns out for this score, Silvestri does not stick to his usual sound. Here he incorporates some synth into his motifs. He also arranged multiple themes for various characters and scene locations. Now if only his full score would be released, that’d be nice. If you can ignore all the bad things mentioned before you might enjoy this movie.

    Action junkies and Hugh Jackman fans would probably get the most benefit from this film. It isn’t terrible but it has enough issues, with its painful pacing, overzealous actors and foggy writing. The action, music and visuals are good but that’s what most Stephen Sommers’ films have in them. It’s rather boring at times.

    Points Earned –> 5:10

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