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Van Helsing (2004)

Originally Written
Monday, October 30, 2006

From the director that brought audiences one of the greatest action/adventure films of all-time, The Mummy, Stephen Sommers brings forth an awesome display of pure homage to the incredible and long lasting characters of classic horror film. What Van Helsing suffers from most is misplaced ridicule by critics and viewers alike, who tend to over think this film far too often and are quick to slam it as one of the worst films ever made, rather than understanding want the film is really about and how it succeeds.

Van Helsing is the only film that comes to mind in which such a classic group of horror characters are brought together into one film. The story follows legendary hunter Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) as he travels the world hunting down evil. Van Helsing has been given a second lease on life yet he is not entirely sure the reason, nor does he have any recollection of his mysterious past, although he is aware of the fact that he has lived over many centuries. It is on his next mission that he hopes to discover some answers that might help to unveil the shroud around his forgotten past.

Sent to Transylvania, Van Helsing must discover the lair of villainous Count Dracula and help to end his reign on the villagers before the death of the final two remaining Valerious heirs. Long ago the Valerious vowed to kill Dracula if in return the curse on their family would be lifted and all those in their family line would be welcomed into paradise. In arriving into the village Van Helsing meets Anna (Kate Beckinsale), after the transformation of her brother into a werewolf she is now the sole surviving member of the Valerious family and their last hope.

In teaming up with Anna, Van Helsing hopes to find Dracula and end the curse set upon her family, yet there is one big problem... Dracula cannot be killed by conventional means, nor can he be destroyed by the usual vampire weapons. If they do not find a way to destroy Dracula he will gain the final piece of his abominable machine and bring life to thousands of his offspring which will strike terror upon everyone. Not only does Dracula hold the secret to his only means of destruction but he also holds the secret to the mysteries that haunt Van Helsing!

If ever a film deserves more respect than it actually receives, it is Van Helsing. In any discussion about horrible films or the worst films of all-time I'm never very surprised to see multiple people almost automatically put Van Helsing on the list, and quite frankly it is very annoying. Van Helsing is no masterpiece, but it is in no way a pile of crap either. It sets out to accomplish a specific goal and completes that goal quite successfully. The purpose of the film is to pay homage to the great classic characters in horror history such as Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Wolf Man, Igor, Dr. Jeckle, and Van Helsing, and it's my strong opinion that this film does exactly that.

First off Van Helsing is visually one of the best films I have ever seen, the effects, the locations, the costumes and the sets are top notch which I wouldn't expect much less due to Sommer's previous work. The effects really help to set the mood of this film and truly are amazing. Some people say that the film overloaded on CGI, I totally disagree! Those people must have never watched the Star Wars prequels which contained nothing but CGI. One thing about this film is the CGI effects are so good that a majority of the time they look so real they're not noticeable.

The next strike many people have against the film is a horrible and corny script combined with terrible acting. I will agree the storyline isn't great and the acting on most occasions is average to borderline mediocre, but what these people don't seem to understand is that's how it is supposed to be. This is a homage to the great classic horror films, films that were anything but great stories and top notch acting. It amazes me that people will praise the first Frankenstein film as a classic yet turn against a modern day version that is only meant to bring that classic feel back.

In terms of acting this film doesn't shine, but acting isn't the point of these types of films, it’s the action, the adventure and the characters and that count and this film definitely shines with non-stop action from beginning to end. Hugh Jackman gave a worthy performance as Van Helsing but more to my liking is Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious. Personally I think Kate Beckinsale has never looked hotter than she does in this film, and if your a fan of hers at all or solely smitten by her beauty this film is a must see for you, not to mention she does a very convincing Romanian accent.

Now I am going to shock even myself with this rating, but after multiple viewings over the years my opinion still remains the same. I don't hand out high ratings lightly so let me state my reasons clearly for the final time if you haven't already gotten them. Sommers accomplishes with Van Helsing the same feat he did with The Mummy, which was reviving a classic genre of film by mixing modern day filming with the same classic storylines and characters which is why Van Helsing deserves the praise.

In the end, Van Helsing succeeds at what it attempted to accomplished which was bring a modern touch to some much beloved classics characters yet at the same time still preserve the classic ambiance of the stories and the characters. So while most people tend to overlook the purpose of this film and chalk it up to corny CGI cinema, those who understand what the film is intending to accomplish should thoroughly enjoy this movie and appreciate what it tries to preserve.

9/10

11 comments:

  1. "who tend to over think this film far too often and are quick to slam it as one of the worst films ever made, rather than understanding want the film is really about and how it succeeds"

    you've summed it all up in one sentence. I continue to be pleasantly amazed by how you support some of my favourite movies that some other people would trash without thinking.
    I enjoyed VAN HELSING fully and totally. People just don't get that Sommers is trying to bring the corny but glamorous movies into cinemas, the movies which had made the golden era of Hollywood.

    PS, Beckinsale's Romanian accent is actually rather bad in this movie (I know since Romania is my neighboring country), but Josie Marran, Elena Anaya and Silvia Colloca who star as Marishka, Verona and Aleera have stunning, flawless Romanian accents especially when Marishka is killed and they start yelling her name :)

    Love this review as well, it should be a VAN HELSING manifesto :))

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  2. I aim to surprise! Van Helsing and The Mummy have so much in common in terms of action, comedy, and overall enjoyment. No wonder we love them both! It's one of my favorite Kate Beckinsale films, she's so exotic looking. To me the Romanian accent was pretty good, but then again I don't know any Romanian's so I guess I can only say it sounded convincing to someone not familiar with it.

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  3. you know who had a stunning accent? Speaking as a linguistic expert that I am :) I have to mention Angelina as queen Olympia in ALEXANDER. Her Greek accent really was amazing.

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  4. I've been meaning to see that, and speaking of stunning Angelina looks like a knock out in that film.

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  5. yes, she's pretty much the only reason to watch the whole movie. Her role has been often attacked although I'm not sure why. It must be the same case as with MUMMY and VAN HELSING - a bunch of people who don't understand movies trashing people and projects they don't grasp. She gave a very convincing role, and actually the only inspiring performance in the whole, otherwise amazingly horrible epic.

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  6. I wholeheartedly agree with you on this one. On every goddamn "Worst Film" list, there's 'Van Helsing', either on the #1 spot, or very close to it. I'm not the least ashamed to admit, I love this film (and equally as much, if not more, I love 'The Mummy')!

    Hugh Jackman is great, Kate has never looked hotter indeed, and I can't forget Dracula's brides, either. Visually the film was stunning, and the action didn't disappoint either.

    To hell with the haters, 'Van Helsing' rules!

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  7. @V. Shaft - Right on! I really wish they'd make a sequel to this film but I guess that's overly high hopes.

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  8. I completley agree! Van Helsing is one of the best films ever and the trailer and the reviews do not do it justice. I want them to make a sequel too... but yeah, that probably won't happen. Sieriosly great film. Loved it.

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  9. @Lucy - At one time I believe a sequel was in discussion, but nothing really came of it.

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  10. Nothing came of a sequel because the movie stinks! The CGI is so real as to be not noticable????

    This blog is laughable

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    Replies
    1. Poor Kenny. Thanks for the asinine comment it was "laughable". Now go Google "asinine" so you know what it means.

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