Van Helsing
Director: Stephen Sommers

. 2004
Director: Sharon Bridgeman

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Van HelsingThe star of the show is Van Helsing's hat, which has ever so much more character than any of the characters. The lamely cartoony special FX are likely more convincing on a small screen than they were on a big screen.

No aspect of the plot is worthy of analysis. Van Helsing was in great part a feature-length advertisement for a Play Station game of the same name, so that shooting flying girl-vampires is intentionally designed to look like a video game sequence rather than like an event in an actual adventure.

Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) is the Vatican's hired assassin, whose job it is to kill creatures that go knock in the night. This revisionist Van Helsing is additionally an amnesiac who doesn't know how or why he is such a first-rate demon-slayer.

He's definitely not the Dr. Van Helsing of Bram Stoker's novel, who pretty much knew he was an old fart, no mystery about his idenity. But the film's completely different Van Helsing is a promising if pretty juvenile outline for an action character in the great kiddy-flick tradition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Alas, in such a bad script Jackman just isn't very interesting, though he does look so good. His brave village girlfrifend (Kate Beckinsale) is only slightly less boring & about equally good looking.

Crappy stuff all round, but the story does manage to truck out not only Van Helsing's original nemesis Dracula (Richard Roxburg) but also Wolfman (Will Kemp) & the Frankenstein monster (Shuler Hensley), not a one of them better than Van Helsing's hat, though Wolfman comes closest to being pretty good, & the black & white prologue with Dr. Frankenstein is marginally better than the film that follows, by right of evoking Universal Pictures monster movies.

Van Helsing: The London AssignmentThere isn't actually much of a reason for all these characters to get together. The plethora of monsters from sundry better films is purely an advertising gambit intended to make an easily impressed target audience exclaim excitedly, "Oh gee oh my, it's got all of them together, we must all go see it!"

Dumb though it was, I got a full measure of mindless enjoyment from it, even if part of the fun was in laughing at how absurdly bad it is.

The transparent computer FX were nine-tenths of the film with no room left for acting, plot, dialogue, characterization, or anything else. It was practically just an animated cartoon. And in Van Helsing: The London Assignment, we get the same character & the same hat in an actual cartoon voiced by the same Hugh Jackman. The animated tale functions as a prequel to the live-action film.

The cartoon pits Van Helsing against Mr. Hyde when Dr. Jekyll goes through The Amazng Hulk style transformations. The animation design is if anything better than the computer FX for the live-action film; but the cartoon's story, incredibly enough, is even more foolish than the live-action film.

Part of the mystery regards the identity of Dr. Jekyll's lover whose immortality he seeks to establish; her revealed identity is so resoundingly silly I could not believe even a cartoon would fob off such tommyrot.

Continue to next vampire film:
Vlad (2003)

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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