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Van Helsing (Widescreen Edition) (2004)

A movie directed by Stephen Sommers

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Breakneck Pace For A Neck-Sucking Villain

  • Oct 25, 2004
"Van Helsing" hasn't got the best special effects in the world. Sure, it has a ton of effects in it, but none of them are that special to watch. In fact, many of them are pretty fake-looking. But that only adds to the charm of this movie if you ask me. This is supposed to be an homage to the monster movies of the past, and I think that "Van Helsing" manages to capture the essence of those flicks pretty well. First of all, consider that the special effects in movies such as "Dracula" and "The Wolfman" were groundbreaking in their day, but are now looked at as sophomoric in effort when compared to the CGI-techno-plaster-anime-wingy-ding effects of today. "Van Helsing" seems to be tipping it's hat at those old effects, all the while wrapping them into some modern CGI a la "The Mummy" with Brendan Fraser.

The acting isn't earth-shattering, but it is fun to watch. Hugh Jackman has this "John Wayne, tough guy with heart" thing going throughout this film. Kate Beckinsale is a damsel-in-not-so-much-distress who manages to whip a little tail on her own. David Wenham plays "Carl," Van Helsing's sidekick monk, er, friar, who happens to be a whiz-bang inventor full of tricks and treats for our hero to use. Frankenstein's Monster is given a light, but loving, treatment in this flick. Mr. Hyde has a cameo(he looks quite a bit like Hyde in "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"). The Wolfman makes a number of brief appearances, all of which are done in full-frontal CGI-glory. The Brides of Dracula are rather pesky in this film, and garner most of Van Helsing's attention. They keep him and the townspeople of Transylvania busy looking at the sky, just waiting for one of them to swoop down on a hapless citizen. Dracula, as is with most of the old movies, takes center stage as the leader of the pack of villains. He's played in a hokey fashion by Richard Roxburgh that hearkens back to Bela Lugosi's original, stiff presentation of the Prince of Darkness. Roxburgh, as well as the rest of the cast, seemed to enjoy himself throughout the movie.

Character development is almost non-existent, but if you are a fan of the creatures these films are based on, you really don't need much background information. Also, the plot is reed thin, but all you really need to know is that Van Helsing hunts the bad guys with a supernatural flair, and stops at nothing to catch them.

This movie isn't great, but I'm giving it four stars because it does remind me of the old days when a vampire bat flew in on a very visible piece of string and the Wolfman transformed frame-by-frame. It's worth four stars just for bringing those memories back. It's excessive, quick-paced and light on plot, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

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More Van Helsing (2004) reviews
review by . May 09, 2006
Obviously this movie got mixed reviews. Either viewers loved or hated it. I cannot understand the hate.     First of all, this was a typical Stephen Sommers film - you take a film classic and remake it with sarcasm, better effects, and you poke fun at the campiness of it all. Apparently some people were expecting something more Gothic, or serious, or historically accurate. Well, guess what? That has been done to death - no pun intended. What Sommers does here is far more entertaining: …
review by . October 21, 2004
Even though I enjoyed the Mummy (2 more than 1), I expected more than I got from this flick. The stars are capable and engaging.   The dialog is a little over campy at times for a "serious" vampire movie, but on the whole moves along briskly if you ignore the fact that it is hopelessly modern for the 1887 setting. Likewise, the techno gadgetry is an engaging tip of the hat to the Bond flicks, but "nitro" glycerine had been invented long before this date, and we have a "gas powered crossbow …
review by . May 06, 2004
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Good FX     Cons: Bad story, dull acting, and bad lines.     The Bottom Line: A good idea gone horribly wrong.     Across Europe in the late 1880’s Van Helsing is name uttered with respect and fear. To some, Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), is a saint who does the bidding of the church. To others he is a murderer and as such is a wanted man in many nations.      As a knight for a secret order based in the Vatican, …
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Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #32
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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Like a roller coaster ready to fly off its rails,Van Helsingrockets to maximum velocity and never slows down. Having earned blockbuster clout withThe MummyandThe Mummy Returns, writer-director Stephen Sommers once again plunders Universal's monster vault and pulls out all the stops for this mammoth $148-million action-adventure-horror-comedy, which opens (sanscredits) with a terrific black-and-white prologue that pays homage to the Universal horror classics that inspired it. The plot pits legendary vampire hunter Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) against Dracula (the deliciously campy Richard Roxburgh), his deadly blood-sucking brides, and the Wolfman (Will Kemp) in a two-hour parade of outstanding special effects (980 in all) that turn Sommers' juvenile plot into a triple-overtime bonus for CGI animators. In alliance with a Transylvanian princess (Kate Beckinsale) and the Frankenstein monster (Shuler Hensley), Van Helsing must prevent Dracula from hatching his bat-winged progeny, and there's so much good-humored action that you're guaranteed to be thrilledandexhausted by the time the 10-minute end-credits roll. It's loud, obnoxious, filled with revisionist horror folklore, and aimed at addicted gamers and eight-year-olds, but this colossal monster mash (including Mr. Hyde, just for kicks) will never,everbore you. A sequel is virtually guaranteed.--Jeff Shannon
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Director: Stephen Sommers
DVD Release Date: October 19, 2004
Runtime: 131 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios
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