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Not as good as it should have been
on October 1, 2012
Van Helsing(released May/04)stars Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing and Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious.This production was sure a roller coaster ride,but not in the good sense.I found it quite uneven,with the two stars playing it right on,with other characters sabotaging their work,thus weakening the whole;down to poor writing.The CGI,as far as creatures go,was also terribly weak.
The story opens in Transylvania and Dr Frankenstein is bringing his Monster to life.The castle he works in is owned by Count Dracula and Dracula wants the doctors creation for his own uses.An argument ensues and the good doctor dies.The Monster takes the doctor to the top of a windmill,which is set on fire by the towns people.They end up crashing down through the structure when the floor beneath them gives way.
A year later we find Van Helsing in Paris tracking down Mr Hyde.He finds him in a bell tower,struggles with him and ends up killing him.He is summoned to the Vatican,who bankrolls Van Helsings exploits.They reprimand him for failing to bring Mr Hyde back alive.His next job will be bringing the Count down.Van Helsing,along with sidekick Friar Carl,travel to Romania to find the Count.They meet up with Anna,the last member of the Valerious family,who have fought the Count for generations.Just before his arrival Anna's brother had been bitten by a werewolf and was now being used by the Count to bring his vampiric children to life.However it doesn't succeed,so the count looks for the Monster to use.
Anna and Van Helsing find the Monster first and spirit him off to the Vatican.Along the way Annas brother attacks the carriage and Van Helsing gets bitten,but not before Van Helsing kills him.Anna is taken captive and Van Helsing must travel to his castle to rescue her.In the attempt,the Monster is captured and taken by the Count to a secret lair.Anna,Van Helsing and the Friar discover a secret portal that takes them directly to the lair.The Monster is rescued but the Counts children are brought successfully to life.Dracula,and a now turned Van Helsing,fight to the finish,with the Count biting the dust.Van Helsing turns on Anna and kills her,but not before she injects him with a serum the Count had to undo the werewolf curse.The Valerious family has now been cleansed and purified.
The problem with a movie,especially Sci Fi/fantasy films like this where the suspension of disbelief is paramount,if you don't grab your viewers attention and pull them into your world right off,or cannot get them back somewhere along the line,then you are in trouble.And if your plot is such that it doesn't seem to know what it wants to do exactly,then you are in even bigger trouble.Does this film want to be serious,or is it sending up the monster genre,or is it a light drama with serious overtones,or....?
The Count played by Richard Roxburgh,to me was almost played in a send-up kind of style.He seemed to be doing a poor impression of Bela Lugosi,not only speech wise,but his entire body language and look was slightly over the top and unconvincing;about as scary as a box of cereal.Then came the monster of Mr.Hyde.Van Helsing's first encounter is in a bell tower,and the huge Mr Hyde is hanging upside down looking at him.Again,giving off no menacing vibes whatsoever,and the CGI being too obvious and cheap.Then we have the character of Friar Carl.If I hadn't known what movie I was looking at,I would have sworn I was looking at a James Bond film,and this was "Q".Carl is the equivalent of that Ian Fleming character,showing Van Helsing around the workshop,chock full of hi-tech gadgetry.Carl also becomes a source of the film's lighter moments,with his naive and meek and mild manner.Trouble is,he didn't add to the story,just detracted from it.Then we come to Dracula's children.These things were like small gargoyles and again the CGI again detracted from their menace.Finally we have the Monster.At Dracula's castle,as he is being taken on the table up to the tower,he starts spouting bible passages.I have never seen a more erudite monster,than the one that appears in this film.It's weird and I found it so out of type as to be totally unbelievable.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 1:85:1 and is clear and crisp.Extras include bloopers,commentary,two featurettes and a you are in the movie short.
All in all a totally disappointing outing for me.The writers had a virtual cornucopia of ideas here to work with,but in the end blew it.Some of the characters were played weakly and went against the film dynamic,the film itself not knowing exactly which way it wanted to go.And it had unconvincing creature CGI effects.Therefore,this picture had no where to go but down for this reviewer.The stars,Beckinsale and Jackman,both played it the way I thought the whole film would be played,but other characters sabotaged it.2 1/2 stars.Not recommended.