Van Helsing (2004)

DVD Cover (Universal Collector's Edition)
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Overall Rating 52%
Overall Rating
Ranked #684
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During the late 19th century, the famed monster hunter Dr. Gabriel Van Helsing and his faithful priest sidekick Carl head to Eastern Europe in Transylvania to track down Count Dracula. They end up in a town whose inhabitants are tormented by vampires and they battle with the Wolf Man and Frankenstein's Monster. By his side is the ravishing Anna Valerius, a member of a family committed to ridding the world of evil. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: September 6, 2004
Our thin storyline here starts up with the ending of the original Frankenstein film, where Dr. Frankenstein (Samuel West) has just finished work on the infamous monster known as, well, Frankenstein's Monster (Shuler Hensley). An angry mob has gathered outside and is trying to kill both the doctor and his monster, when Count Vladislaus Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) shows up to join the party. We learn that Dracula and Frankenstein had some sort of deal, where Frankenstein was to be making the monster for Dracula to use as one of his evil minions. Apparently, the doctor didn't know in advance just what Dracula wanted the monster for, and as he finds out, he summons his assistant Igor (Kevin J. O'Connor) to help dispose of the vampire. Turns out that Dracula had already gotten to Igor, and his assistant betrays him to join up with the vampire. Fast forward a hundred years, and we meet up with Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), who is in the process of trying to kill Mr. Hyde (Robbie Coltrane). That's taken care of easily enough, and Helsing moves on to get his next assignment from Cardinal Jinette (Alun Armstrong). The Cardinal tells him of Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale), who is the last of the Valerious family along with her brother. The family has a curse on them, that being that if Dracula is not killed before the last of their family dies off, then none of the family will ever make it to heaven. Helsing must tag-team with Anna and a weapons expert by the name of Carl (David Wenham) in order to kill off Dracula, and there's quite a few obstacles in the way... including Anna's brother Velkan (Will Kemp), who has turned into a werewolf and is stalking our trio.

Aside from a few twists and the end revelation, that's the entire storyline for the movie... which is a bit sad, considering that all of the above takes place in the first twenty minutes of this two hour film. Indeed, the rest of the film is filled with repeated uses of the exact same formula, over and over; action sequence, Carl drops a few comedic-relief lines, action sequence, some lame bit of storyline to get us to the next action sequence, comedic-relief line, action sequence. I went into this movie knowing that it was an action film, but sheesh, better films in the genre tend to have some sort of storyline to keep things interesting; this one seemed to throw random bits in merely as an excuse to get to the next multi-million dollar action scene. Still, things could have at least been saved a bit if the monster legends had been given some decent parts in the movie; that's not the case, either. Frankenstein's monster gets the aforementioned part at the beginning which lasts all of ten minutes, and then he's not seen again until the three-fourths mark of the film, where he becomes the buddy side-kick to Van Helsing and having his importance to the plot coming in just behind that of Carl, who's only there for comedic-relief. The Wolf-Man, in the sense that I was expecting, doesn't even make an appearance. Sure, there's plenty of werewolves to be found (not the expected single one), but they're reduced to minor servants of Dracula. Speaking of which, Dracula is the big part of the storyline but gets none of the action sequences until the final scene of the movie... instead, he just sends his three brides out to do his work. While the brides were entertaining enough in comparison to the rest of the monsters, I had thought the whole novelty of this this was supposed to be seeing Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and The Wolf-Man in one film. The proverbial ball was dropped in that aspect, and hard.

Over on the effects side of things, we're faced with the same type of problems. The action sequences are done up nice enough (I'd hope so with the almost two-hundred million budget), but they suffer from the same thing that the rest of the film does: lack of originality. Seeing the brides fly around and pick people up is entertaining the first few times, but tends to get mighty dull after you've seen it happen a dozen times. The same would apply to watching those same brides do the disappear-and-reappear-behind-the-star effect that was used so often. The monsters are done up in a style which would suggest that the creators seemed to suffer from the big-dick syndrome; there is no such thing as "too big." Mr. Hyde would be a perfect example of this, as his head was almost as big as Helsing's entire body. When you figure in that he was of average size in the original novel, this is quite laughable. The werewolves were done in the same fashion, seeming to be almost twice the size that they should have been; but at least they did look quite nice. Ironically enough, the only character that didn't seem to be over-done in terms of size was Frankenstein's monster, which is ironic due to the fact that he didn't seem to be much taller than the humans here... and he was quite a huge guy in the novel and in other adaptations of the character. The look of this monster was also screwed up on, having him have a flat head and a few stitches thrown into the face. As was mentioned in the film itself, he's supposedly stitched together from seven different men, so why not do something a bit better with that? It surely couldn't have been due to budget concerns.

Overall, avoid this one unless watching a two-hour CGI action highlight-reel is your idea of entertainment. It's not for me, so I'll settle on a 3/10 for this.
Stary_Night_sky #1: Stary_Night_sky - added September 25, 2004 at 10:18pm
Absolute CRAP. Pointless movie and waist of time and money.
Ginose #2: Ginose - added December 31, 2005 at 8:08pm
It's hard to dis-like movies with Hugh Jackman... Hard, but not impossiable.
BuryMeAlive #3: BuryMeAlive - added June 20, 2006 at 5:58pm
It's not the best movie ever, it's not great either, but it's a good adventure movie for rainy days.
MerrysMiko #4: MerrysMiko - added July 31, 2008 at 11:13am
I loved this movie for what it was: action-adventure with monsters thrown in. Also, I'm a big fan of the old Universal classics, so it was fun to see a slightly more modern take on the oldies-but-goodies. The second I try to read something more into the concept or start thinking about the many plot holes or the horrible ending, I want to throw the DVD out the window, but then I think, "Hey, Hugh Jackman can't turn everything to gold" and it stays on my shelf. I do enjoy Jackman as an actor, Kate Beckinsale has been a treat to watch since her debut in "Much Ado About Nothing" (she has come a LONG way), and it cracks me the hell up to think that David Wenham (Friar Carl) went on to play a big butch Spartan in "300". If you want some mindless entertainment you don't have to think too much to enjoy, this movie does just fine. 7/10
Lucid Dreams #5: Lucid Dreams - added February 23, 2010 at 11:43am
Kate Beckinsale is a real bad actress, but she is so damn hot. This movie was alright, like the Swede said it's a good adventure movie for what it was. 6/10
Greg Follender #6: Greg Follender - added March 15, 2010 at 7:35pm
Utter shite...

The review above sizes it up quite nicely... only it's worse.
If a movie can feature a magnetic leading man, three of the greatest classic monsters in film history, and one of the best looking women working in film today... and STILL put me to sleep (between the occasional infuriated screaming jags while hurling soggy french fries at the screen)... it deserves a special place in cinema Hell.

2.5/10... and only that because the credits successfully roll at the hateful thing's finale.
Crispy #7: Crispy - added March 16, 2010 at 6:53pm
YOU get a 2.5 for wasting french fries like an asshole.
Greg Follender #8: Greg Follender - added March 17, 2010 at 11:06am
They were soggy and flavorless... and only useful for either clogging a neighbor's exhaust pipe or throwing at the screen during a awful film.

YOU get an entire stained cardboard container of said shit-fries for your snide comment, courtesy of the McDonalds on 48th and 9th in Hell's Kitchen, New York.

Suck it.
Crispy #9: Crispy - added March 19, 2010 at 2:27am
HA! I like how you're trying to act superior and admit that you willingly got McDonalds in the same sentence. Point. Match. Crispy wins.
Greg Follender #10: Greg Follender - added March 19, 2010 at 10:20am
I think not... while not exactly haute cuisine (look it up, smartypants), the fries at McDonalds can occasionally be worth devouring during a cheesy movie night.

And yet you claim victory on the basis that I lowered myself to eating those fries... while clearly claiming that I "get a 2.5 for WASTING french fries like an asshole"?

You lose.

Crispy #11: Crispy - added March 19, 2010 at 3:02pm
Go on, whine because you backed yourself into a corner. Maybe next time you'll get some quality fries from the word go.
Greg Follender #12: Greg Follender - added March 20, 2010 at 12:32am
C'mon now... just keeping this thing going is just making you look foolish. Take your lumps and go back to the kiddie table... I promise to let you know once we get to the applesauce... (smooch!)
Nostromov #13: Nostromov - added April 27, 2015 at 7:10pm
It's funny, to see negative comments about this movie everywhere; but, if you ask them - why was it bad, compared to what... It's a gr8 (!) adventure, one of my favorites!.. Watch it alone, so presumptuous people won't bother you; I love it, still watch it today - even after SO many viewings. :))
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