Like a roller coaster ready to fly off its rails, Van Helsing rockets to maximum velocity and never slows down. Having earned blockbuster clout with The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, writer-director Stephen Sommers once aga... more »in plunders Universal's monster vault and pulls out all the stops for this mammoth $148-million action-adventure-horror-comedy, which opens (sans credits) 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 thrilled and exhausted 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, ever bore you. A sequel is virtually guaranteed. --Jeff Shannon« less
"All said and done, this film is a tremendous amount of fun. Director Stephen Sommers takes the stuff of our favorite fictional monsters and blends them together to create a highly imaginative reconstruction of the story of Dracula. Resemblances to Bram Stoker's original tale are entirely accidental. Instead we find Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) using with Dr. Frankenstein (Samuel West) to serve some dark and nefarious purpose. Not very far in the background is a werewolf (Will Kemp) who carries part of the answer to the puzzle - when he isn't trying to chew a hole in Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman).
Kate Beckinsale plays Anna Valerious, the last living member of her family, who have been dedicated to exterminating Dracula for some 400 years. Thanks to an oath of her forefathers, the Valerious line is condemned to purgatory as long as Dracula wanders the night. Concerned that this curse is about to become permanent, a secret order of the Catholic Church sends in their best occult assassin - Van Helsing - aided reluctantly by Friar Carl (David Wenham), who plays the mad inventor to Van Helsing's athletic efforts. Gabriel shows up to help Anna, is promptly rebuffed by the woman, whose mind is definitely her own. But the action goes ballistic, and no one gets time to be banished or stomp off.
And of action, special effects, stunts. and computer graphics there is a great muchness. Most of which looks just believable enough to keep the audience staring open mouthed at the screen. An outstanding job is done with Dracula's wives (Elena Anaya, Silvia Colloca, and Josie Maran) and the Frankenstein monster (Shuler Hensley). So good that these characters very nearly steal the entire show. Sets are equally carefully crafted, with a marvelous medieval town and two whole gothic castles. The visual impression of the film often completely overwhelms the story.
The acting is bright, with a slightly crude, sarcastic style of interplay between the characters. The overall touch is comedic, despite the inevitable sour grapes of the ending. Don't look for greatness here. The point is to create an exciting, fun experience, not to recreate the dark and brooding spirit behind the originals. Sommers does well with this tongue-in-cheek, cut-and-run style and Van Helsing proves this once again "
Van Helsing is a fun, tongue-in-cheek, salute to the horror
Steven Hedge | Somewhere "East of Eden" | 04/15/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film is a throwback to those old 50's horror films that had classic monsters doing battle with each other coupled with the wit of the 60's era all combined with the thrills and special effects of today's films.
Entertainment rarely gets better than this. Now stop laughing at my five stars for this kind of film. This isn't the five stars you would give a film like Platoon or The Painted Veil. It's more like the five stars you would you give a film like Aliens or Die Hard. This is fun, thrilling, and engaging entertainment. It's simple popcorn fun that the whole family, for the most part, can enjoy. The CGI can be a little over-the-top, but it is still excellently done and doesn't get in the way of the story.
The film has engaging actors who, while playing their roles with some seriousness, you can tell that it is all tongue-in-cheek and one expects them to wink at the camera at any time. Hugh Jackman certainly carries the film with great charm and coolness that reminds one of Ford's Indiana Jones. Kate Beckinsale is great as his reluctant partner and just looks dang sexy in this role that brings to mind her Underworld character. She just sizzles on the screen. In addition, excellent support is rendered by David Wenham, most known for his roles in 300 and The Lord of the Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy, Richard Roxburgh of Stealth, Kevin J. O'Conner from The Mummy, and Robbie Coltrane who is best known as Hagrid in the Harry Potter films.
The direction is confidently done and unobtrusive. He combines action and horror very effectively. The photography is appropriately creepy and atmospheric. The set designs are elaborate and the score is compelling. The entire film is excellently produced and is what I call a high octane film. This film gets you running on all cylinders. Watch it and have a blast enjoying it for the kind of entertainment it is.
The film is thrilling and suspenseful with the various classic creature battling each other and at times forming uneasy alliances. This is just old fashioned witty and enjoyable entertainment. The repeat value of this film is what also makes this film worthy of a place in your DVD collection."
Van Helsing Vampires
Luka | Santa Barbara, CA USA | 04/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was at the screening of Van Helsing last Tuesday and my first impression is that the movie is quite amazing.
The CGI stuff looks like it needs more work (pygmy bats look quite silly), but the werwolf and the brides are fantastic.
As far as the actors, my praise goes to Mr Richrad Roxburgh who created a new Dracula, whose sadness and hollowness is rather touching.
Kevin O' connor is great as usual, hidden in the heaviest make up you would imagine.
Kate and Hugh team up very well even though Kate's beauty is challenged by the three stunning vampire brides, especially by the charm of the dark head vixen ( Sylvia Colloca, I think).
On the whole, a very good job that will hit the box office!"
Better than I had thought
N. Durham | Philadelphia, PA | 10/22/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"After writing and directing the empty blockbusters of the Mummy and the Mummy Returns, Van Helsing finds him looting Universal's monster vault once again, this time featuring the Frankenstein monster (Shuler Hensley), the Wolfman (Will Kemp), and of course, Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). Hugh Jackman stars as the monster hunter Van Helsing, teamed up with a princess (Kate Beckinsale) and a loyal friar (David Wenham from Lord of the Rings), sent to Transylvania to stop the count from unleashing a horde of bloodsucking offspring. Some spots of the film are deliciously campy, while others stick out as plain dull. The opening is a wonderful homage to the classic Universal monster films, and buffs of classic horror will find plenty of references and homages in the film. The special effects are some of the best CGI seen today, and Van Helsing is more satisfying than Sommers' Mummy films, although underneath the break neck pace and special effects there isn't much left to it. It's still worth seeing and it has a bit of a surprising ending, and a sequel is almost virtually inevitable."
Don't Believe the Negative Comments (Entirely)
Only-A-Child | 04/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Don't let the negative comments scare you away from this film; most of these viewers totally missed the point of the film. This is a actually a parody of the horror genre (like Polanski's "The Fearless Vampire Killers"). So if you don't appreciate parody don't watch it and I'm not guaranteeing that you will find it good parody, just don't dismiss the film because somebody thought it was serious and said or wrote something negative about it-they are probably clueless.
Parody/satire of horror films has a long tradition and ranges from the obvious (see Abbott & Costello, Mel Brooks, and "Redneck Zombies") to the subtle (see "The Fearless Vampire Killers" and "Evil Dead"). Before reading many of the comments I would have grouped "Van Helsing" closer to the obvious, after all the film depicts a Vatican Department modeled on James Bond's Special Weapons "Q" Section. But apparently even something so obvious is not registering with many people, if the true measure of a 'subtle' satire is how many people just don't get it, then "Van Helsing" certainly qualifies.
They went into this project saying something like: "let's use digital effects and a large budget to create the most interesting sets in horror movie history, and then use these as a backdrop for a parody of the "horror genre". When concerns were raised about the expense for just a comedy, they pitched it as a sophisticated parody that would not get in the way of the average viewer's desire to see a traditional vampire movie. Such a dichotomy allows the movie to generate big bucks at the box office while still providing its makers with an outlet for their creativity. But such a dichotomy means there will be a third group of viewers who cannot suspend disbelief enough to enjoy it as a horror film and yet will totally miss the parody angle (the only question is whether they too humorless to find enjoyment in such frivolity or are just a little too dim to appreciate it).
The movie opens with a visually awesome scene of the villagers storming a huge castle and burning a windmill; the sets and the music are great. Except for the overacting and the presence of an assistant named 'Egor' or "Igor" (see Mel Brooks reference), you would not suspect that this is anything but a serious horror film.
The film plays homage to the Karloff/Chaney films, to Abbott and Costello, Mel Brooks, James Bond and The Wild, Wild West. There is a little Phantom of the Opera and even Eli Wallach's best line from 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly' (if you're going to shoot, shoot don't talk). In fact they even lift the vampire ballroom scene from "The Fearless Vampire Killers".
The individual performances are from the William Shatner School of Over-Acting with Dracula's brides totally stealing each scene in which they are featured. I particularly liked Josie Maran (who had that great scene as the cigarette girl in "The Aviator") as Marishka. The costumes are almost as good as the sets. The computer-generated action sequences illustrate all the problems with digital effects, but work fine as satirical devices.
So if you want to see a fun film with unparalleled visuals this is the one. Others who can suspend disbelief and ignore a few campy elements will enjoy it as a straight vampire picture. But if you are can't, are just humorless, or don't know the horror genre you should stay away.
Because there are really two movies here, the first viewing withholds most of the viewing pleasure; once you understand what is happening repeated viewings are even more fun. I suggest getting the "Ultimate Edition" DVD because of all the extras it contains.