Projections - Movie Reviews
Van Helsing
Van Helsing
Starring Hugh Jackman, Will Kemp, Josie Maran, Elena Anaya, Richard Roxburgh,
Kate Beckinsale, David Wenham, Shuler Hensley, Kevin J. O'Connor, Paul Hogan (in talks)

Stephen Sommers hooks up with the Dracula legend and X Men star Hugh Jackman in this summer’s first big-budgeted cinematic extravaganza. Too bad that Van Helsing becomes an overproduced theme-park ride than a brash supernatural tale. And, the score clamors to be heard, in spite of some good guitar riffs on the chorus.

The “new” Gabriel Van Helsing (Jackman) is earnestly positioned to eradicate the most nightmarish creatures. The Vatican provides him with a secret connection and a ring proves to be important in the plot in which Universal has asked reviewers not to elaborate on key twists happening in the film’s last half-hour. Save to say, the surprises don’t carry much bite and won’t raise the hairs on more than a few. At the outset, there’s some thumping, amusing action between Van Helsing and Mr. Hyde.

This fairly serious interpretation by Sommers has pitted our protagonist against the formidable Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh of Moulin Rouge), as well as his deeply envious, ravenous brides. Arriving in Transylvania, the suave vampire hunter gets help from the tough, corset-fitted Anna Valerious, a thick German-accented Kate Beckinsale. She has family issues, her brother has been bitten by the Wolf Man. And the screenplay, also by Sommers, hinges on a fiendish plot to use Frankenstein’s monster to awaken embryo-like demons.

Filmed mainly in Prague, Czechoslovakia, Van Helsing is CGI and special effects to the hilt in search of real characters and a story with more humor and brash entertainment like Sommers’ vision of The Mummy and its sequel. Its more incoherent rather than a fun, campy horror adventure though some will admit that it has an absurdity to it that invites a guilty pleasure. Some comic relief is given from Friar Carl as a kind of “Q” to Van Helsing as played like John Hannah from The Mummy by David Wenham. Kevin J. O’Connor does his best in heavy makeup as Igor, but to little avail.

Sommers homage to Universal Studio pictures like “Bride of Frankenstein” is really a monster mash with Gothic designs and franchise potential though will little ingenuity and depth. And the agents of Jackman and Beckinsale would do well to help find them new scripts that won’t leave them typecasts.

Van Helsing



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