Van Helsing – USA, 2004 – reviews

 
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‘Adventure lives forever’

Van Helsing is a 2004 American action adventure horror feature film about a monster slayer sent to Transylvania to defeat Dracula. The movie was written and directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy and The Mummy Returns). The Sommers Company-Stillking Films production stars Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh and David Wenham.

Plot:

Famed monster slayer Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is dispatched to Transylvania to assist the last of the Valerious bloodline in defeating Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh).

Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) reveals that Dracula has formed an unholy alliance with Doctor Frankenstein’s monster (Shuler Hensley) and is hell-bent on exacting a centuries-old curse on her family. Together Anna and Van Helsing set out to destroy their common enemy, but uncover some unsettling secrets along the way…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“This moronic abomination is not a movie. It’s just a noisy, nasty and repulsive video game-slash- theme-park haunted-house ride designed to appeal to the offspring of warlocks and trolls.” Observer

“At the outset, we may fear Sommers is simply going for f/x overkill, but by the end, he has somehow succeeded in assembling all his monsters and plot threads into a high-voltage climax. Van Helsing is silly and spectacular, and fun.” Roger Ebert

“Writer-director Stephen Sommers (…) throws together plot strains from various horror movies and stories and tries to muscle things along with flash and dazzle. But his film just lies there, weighted down by a complete lack of wit, artfulness and internal logic.” San Francisco Chronicle

” …the hero’s relationship with a sexed-up Beckinsale as the last of an evil-avenging dynasty is kept chastely banter-free and uninvolving. What’s left is a world of industrial Gothicism, nightmare morphing effects, ahistoric gadgetry and Breughel-lite grotesquerie.” Time Out

“Sure, there’s quite bit of action that’s not too shabby and Sommers shows a bit of respect for the origins of his movie with the black and white opening sequence; but the hero in this tale is weak and underdeveloped, the villains have not bite (no, that’s not a pun) whatsoever and the entire thing feels like the lame “Summer Blockbuster” it’s intended to be.” The Video Graveyard

“The opening scene where Van Helsing tries to trap Mr. Hyde is kinda funny, piss poor CGI notwithstanding. And I liked the part where he gets outfitted with weapons by a Q-like monk. Probably the best scene in the film comes when he fights off a trio of Dracula’s sexy gargoyle wives with a rapid-fire crossbow.” The Video Vacuum

Cast and characters:

  • Hugh Jackman … Van Helsing
  • Kate Beckinsale … Anna Valerious
  • Richard Roxburgh … Count Vladislaus Dracula
  • David Wenham … Carl
  • Shuler Hensley … Frankenstein’s Monster
  • Elena Anaya … Aleera
  • Will Kemp … Velkan
  • Kevin J. O’Connor … Igor
  • Alun Armstrong … Cardinal Jinette
  • Silvia Colloca … Verona
  • Josie Maran … Marishka
  • Tom Fisher … Top Hat
  • Samuel West … Doctor Victor Frankenstein
  • Robbie Coltrane … Mr. Hyde
  • Stephen Fisher … Doctor Jekyll (as Stephen H. Fisher)
  • Dana Morávková … Barmaid
  • Zuzana Durdinová … Opera Singer
  • Jaroslav Vízner … Gendarme
  • Marek Vasut … Villager
  • Samantha Sommers … Vampire Child

Technical details:

  • 131 minutes
  • DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS
  • Black and white | colour
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85: 1

Video game:

Vivendi Universal Games published a Van Helsing video game for PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC and Game Boy Advance. The game follows a similar plot to the movie, has gameplay similar to Devil May Cry and the PS2 and Xbox versions feature the voice talent of many of the actors including Hugh Jackman.

Box office:

The film opened at #1 in the weekend of May 7, 2004 and grossed US$300,257,475 worldwide of which US$120,177,084 was from the USA.

Spin offs:

The animated prequel titled Van Helsing: The London Assignment takes place before the main events of the film, focusing on Van Helsing’s mission to try to stop Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from terrorising London.

There was a one-shot comic book, published by Dark Horse Comics, titled Van Helsing: From Beneath the Rue Morgue, that follows Van Helsing on a self-contained adventure that occurs during the events of the film, just after the death of Jekyll/Hyde in Paris but before Van Helsing returned to Rome. In the adventure, Van Helsing deals with Doctor Moreau and his hybrid mutants.

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