Van Helsing

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Van Helsing
Review (6/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

In Van Helsing, Hugh Jackman plays Gabriel Van Helsing, a monster-hunter extraordinaire who is appointed by The Vatican to head on over to Transylvania to help save the final members of the prestigious Valerious family. To do this, Van Helsing must kill the seemingly invincible Count Dracula. Van Helsing and his comical sidekick Carl (David Wenham, who also played Faramir in The Return of the King) arrive in Transylvania and it is not long before they team up the the vivacious Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) to fight Dracula, three flying vampiresses, an army of mini-bloodsuckers and a werewolf with really sharp teeth. Van Helsing and Anna realize that Dracula's plot to end her family bloodlines is much more complicated than they initially thought. The Count has also hatched a plot to use Frankenstein's genetic make-up to breed his own army of indestructible vampires. What ensues is a bash 'em in, bang 'em up roller coaster ride of a movie that is full of monsters, bosoms and a ton of special effects.

So what can I say about the season's first true summer blockbuster? Well, like many blockbuster's from seasons past, there are things I liked about it and things that I didn't really like. Some of the fight scenes were fantastic - Van Helsing's opening battle with Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde (Robbie Coltrane), the scene when Van Helsing first arrives in Transylvania and fights off the vampiresses with the weapon that fires arrows like a machine gun, the fight with Anna and her brother Velkan (Will Kemp) and the werewolf, and the chase with Van Helsing, Anna, Frankenstein, Carl, two horse carriages and a werewolf - all these scenes made for a quite enjoyable experience and probably saved the movie from being a total disaster. I loved Kate Beckinsale and must admit I have been in love with her for quite some time, ever since I saw her in Serendipity a few years ago. However, that Eastern European accent just didn't do it for me and pretty much made me go limper than a wet noodle soon after she opened her mouth. But I suppose it was necessary being that the movie took place in Transylvania.

What else bothered me? Well, I found the movie a bit convoluted and choppy at times. I found there were a few instances where the movie jumped from one scene to another to another at inopportune moments and before we really had a chance to digest what was going on in the previous scene. The CGI didn't bother me too much, perhaps not as much as it will bother the general public, or at least that is the impression I have gotten. However, we could have used a bit less CGI, like perhaps Frankenstein could have been a real character. I guess there were times when it just seemed too fake but maybe it is about time that we all come to the realization that CGI will never look real. Richard Roxburgh as Dracula? He was okay but in my mind, the character of Dracula should have dominated in this movie and Roxburgh's Dracula did not dominate. He was good but not dominant and that was a disadvantage to the overall impression of the movie. Finally, the storytelling aspect of the movie was lacking. I understand that the story was secondary in Van Helsing. Let's face it, this movie was about action and there was an abundance of action in the movie. But I would have liked a bit more explanation of certain situations - like perhaps Van Helsing's origins could have been a bit better explained. I had no problem with storytelling taking a back seat to the action - but in Van Helsing, the story wasn't in the back seat, it was locked in the trunk and that was not always a good thing.

In the end, I will conclude my remarks about Van Helsing with this advice. Don't take Van Helsing for anything more than what it is meant to be - a loud, action-packed, monster-killing summer blockbuster. There is an abundance of CGI, a lot of silliness and many loose ends. Van Helsing is not the best monster movie that has ever been made and it is not the best movie that will come out this summer - at least I hope it isn't because if it is, we are in for a long summer. But it is worth a venture out to the theatre to kill a few hours on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Don't take this movie for anything more than it is meant to be and you shouldn't be too disappointed with the end product.

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