Originally posted May 17, 2004

front Title: Van Helsing
Tagline: Adventure Lives Forever
Rating: PG-13
Running time: 132 minutes
Writer: Stephen Sommers
Director: Stephen Sommers
Stars: Hugh Jackman (Van Helsing), Kate Beckinsale (Anna Valerious), Richard Roxburgh (Count Vladislaus Dracula)
Sub-genre: Action
Quick vote: enjoyable

The plot according to me: Long time monster hunter Van Helsing joins up with the last in the family who is at war with Count Dracula to try to finally rid the world of the evil vampire.

Vampiristics: A main vampire, 3 vampire brides, hundreds of minor vampires, and thousands of vampire babies. Some decent fang shots, some bad fang shots, no real notable feedings.

My opinion on the movie: The movie starts out with a sort of remake of the end of Universal’s 1931 Frankenstein, with a few changes made to set up the remainder of the movie. The movie then forwards to it’s current time where you see Van Helsing chasing his latest monster. At this point you will see that the movie will be very computer generated effects heavy with Mr. Hyde being a larger than life human not unlike the recent Incredible Hulk. Admittedly, I was a little taken back from this at first, but as the sequence went on, Mr. Hyde ends up being pretty entertaining and I enjoyed the fight as a whole.

Similarly to Mr. Hyde, both the wolf-men and vampires were 100% computer effects when in their monster form (Frankenstein, on the other hand, has very little computer help). The Brides of Dracula came out the best of all the main monsters, which is good since you see the most of them in monster form. The Wolf-men, while visually impressive, did the least for me (possibly because they were more wolf than man). Speaking of visuals, the sets and backgrounds were really well done, but the one visual that really turned me off was the way the vampires elongated their mouths when in “human” form. It was fine when they were monsters, but just looked too cartoony when they were not.

Special effects aside, the movie has a basic yet workable story but is really driven by the action sequences. It does make an attempt at a deeper plot-line, having to do with the origins of Dracula and Van Helsing, but comes out feeling forced and not really necessary. The final battle was actually a bit disappointing, saved only by the cut-away scenes involving Frankenstein; but I really enjoyed the very end, which nicely wraps up the half of the story involving Kate Beckinsale’s character.

While this movie is no masterpiece, and an average vampire movie at best, I definitely recommend it to anyone that enjoys a good super-hero like action movie.

Since Van Helsing: The London Assignment is not a vampire movie at all, I’ll talk a bit about it here. What it is, is a half hour animated episode that expands on Van Helsing’s hunt of Mr. Hyde (which is used as an introduction segment in the actual movie). Although it’s a cartoon, it does not tone anything down for the kids, in fact, this may be even more mature than the movie itself. The animation is well done, the story is interesting, and all the characters are voiced by their counterpart from the movie.

One thing I noticed is although this takes place before the movie, there are a few references that seem to break the continuity (such as the crossbow, which appears in the cartoon, but Van Helsing supposedly first sees in the movie). This is a little sad considering the cartoon is so closely tied the movie, but nothing to lessen your enjoyment of either.

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