$2.50 Reviews: Van Helsing (2004)

$2.50 Reviews:

Van Hesling

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Van Helsing is a 2004 action film directed by Stephen Sommers. It stars Hugh Jackman as the title character, and Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious. Their mission is fairly simple; Kill Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh), in order to allow Anna's family into Heaven. Along the way, various other mythological creatures will be encountered, primarily in the forms of the Frankenstein Monster and the Werewolf. What results is an incredibly fun and exciting journey, riddled with cliches and cheesy dialogue. That's basically what you can expect from it, and it most certainly delivered.

Gabriel Van Helsing is an amnesiac monster hunter, currently working for the Vatican. He is told that he must kill Count Dracula in order to help Anna's family enter the Pearly Gates. He quickly sets off to Transylvania, meeting and saving Anna from a vampire attack. A short time later, they decide to go hunt Dracula together. This ends up being a wise choice, as it is quickly clear that Anna would not be able to defeat Dracula alone. Along the way there are enough action scenes to fill more than a couple other movies. Van Helsing and Anna meet vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein, more vampires, and somehow manages to keep the plot somewhat coherent.

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Werewolves actually can be kind of scary

Van Helsing is a film that does appear to be trying too hard, despite sticking to a formula as old as every monster that it brings back from the graves of past Universal products. Having so many creatures appear on screen is something that sometimes hampers films. They can make it seem crowded, and often makes the events in the film harder to keep track of. This balancing act of plot vs. creatures is something that Van Helsing pulls off quite well. The amount of creatures never feels overwhelming, and the plot doesn't suffer from too many enemies. The formula that the film uses does make it seem a slight bit forced. "Go here, fight, pause for character development, travel again, et cetera." This doesn't make the film less fun to watch, but does make it seem like it is just going through the motions. This often times tends to disconnect viewers from a movie, a connection that the good acting thankfully brings back.

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The two leads, Hugh Jackman (Left),
Kate Beckinsale (Right)

That isn't to say that the acting is something special, but some of it is certainly noteworthy. Richard Roxburgh's Dracula steals the show every time he appears on the screen. Despite playing a completely over the top character, he does it masterfully. When he begins to walk on ceilings and walls, you end up enjoying it because it is something that you've been waiting for the character to do. Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale are somewhat of a joy to watch, despite delivering a few too many cheesy one-liners. The support cast is also quite impressive, with David Wenham playing Carl, Van Helsing's sidekick, Kevin J. O'Connor as one of the creepiest Igor ever played, and Will Kemp as Anna's brother. Everyone gives a decent-very good performance, allowing some of the films goofier plot points and special effects to go unnoticed.

The film uses a large amount of CGI. Does this entirely work and hold up to this day? Not entirely, but for the most part it still does. The transforming of a werewolf is shown to be incredibly painful, while the transformed vampires look terrifying. Where it doesn't look all that impressive is when the vampires have not transformed, and are going to bite a human. Their jaws protrude outwards from their face, going far beyond what a jaw actually could do, and is so blatantly CGI that it is laughable. That's truthfully the only terrible part of the film, and really doesn't make a huge impact, apart from one scene near the finale where it certainly cuts the tension of what is actually happening on screen. The scenery does look very nice, taking Van Helsing to many different areas, all of which are impressive to look at.

Whether you will like Van Helsing really is determined before you watch it. Can you look past a few plot holes and poorly done CGI? Can you tolerate cheesy dialogue? Is an unrelenting pace something you look for in a movie? Can you turn off your brain for a couple hours and just watch and admire what is happening on screen? If the answer to most of those is yes, you'll probably like what Van Helsing has to offer. If the answer is no, then you might as well just skip it, as you will probably feel like you have wasted two hours of your life. Me? I like this kind of film. It's simply a blast to watch, and I wouldn't really have it any other way.

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Nice review. A few grammar mistakes (you misuse the past and present participles occasionally) but apart from that the writing was good, as per always. Also, there's a bit of an overuse of 'question and answer' phrases, especially in the last paragraph. If you had less of them, I feel the review would be a little bit more effective.

I realise I criticize a fair bit on these, but I like bringing something other than 'good review' to the table, as they always are anyway. Don't take it offensively or anything. :P

As for my own feelings on Van Helsing, I haven't watched it in a long time. I don't remember how I felt about it, even though I do remember a lot of the scenes and plot (which I guess is a good thing). I should probably dig out the DVD and watch it sometime, although my threshold for cheesy dialogue is fairly low.

FargoDog:
Nice review. A few grammar mistakes (you misuse the past and present participles occasionally) but apart from that the writing was good, as per always. Also, there's a bit of an overuse of 'question and answer' phrases, especially in the last paragraph. If you had less of them, I feel the review would be a little bit more effective.

I realise I criticize a fair bit on these, but I like bringing something other than 'good review' to the table, as they always are anyway. Don't take it offensively or anything. :P

As for my own feelings on Van Helsing, I haven't watched it in a long time. I don't remember how I felt about it, even though I do remember a lot of the scenes and plot (which I guess is a good thing). I should probably dig out the DVD and watch it sometime, although my threshold for cheesy dialogue is fairly low.

I made grammar mistakes? :(

Oh well, I'll be honest here. I wasn't really concentrating while writing it. I was more just thinking about the day, what I'll need to be doing in order to be fully ready for school, and other stuff like that. The quality apparently did suffer, but whatever.

Your criticism is helpful. It allows me to improve. I like it, and I definitely don't take offence.

Marter:

I made grammar mistakes? :(

Oh well, I'll be honest here. I wasn't really concentrating while writing it. I was more just thinking about the day, what I'll need to be doing in order to be fully ready for school, and other stuff like that. The quality apparently did suffer, but whatever.

Your criticism is helpful. It allows me to improve. I like it, and I definitely don't take offence.

They weren't anything distracting from the overall quality of the review. People (with the one exception being you) never seem to notice the abundance I make on mine, so I doubt people will care about the few that are scattered around this review.

Nice review!

A personal tip though, would be good if you made it a convention to add an embedded trailer of the movie you're reviewing ^.^

Sinclose:
Nice review!

A personal tip though, would be good if you made it a convention to add an embedded trailer of the movie you're reviewing ^.^

That's a good idea. You think that should be added at the beginning or the end?

Marter:

Sinclose:
Nice review!

A personal tip though, would be good if you made it a convention to add an embedded trailer of the movie you're reviewing ^.^

That's a good idea. You think that should be added at the beginning or the end?

I personally think it would be more fitting to put them at the end. But it all depends on your presentation though.

Good review. I don't agree with it completely, but that's not important. It was brief, concise, and informative. Overall it was well-written.

However, in spite of them being unimportant, I will bring up my disagreements, because why not?

First off, I loathed Dracula. William Shatner couldn't tie Roxburgh's overacting shoes. Dracula came off as pure, obnoxious stupid. I suppose I can see why others would like him, but I can't see myself doing the same.

Second, asking if the CG still holds up seems to imply that it ever did hold up. It was underwhelming even when it was new.

Also, since you make no mention of your opinion on the vampires' transformed appearances, none that I saw anyway, I must say that they were God awful. Especially Dracula's. If they were going to give him a silly looking transformation, they might as well have just went balls to the wall Castlevania-style and turned him into a giant flying seven-headed Satan-beast that breathed poison and shat lightning.

COMPUTER ANIMATION OVERLOAD!!!

The movie looked too fake for me to enjoy it visually or otherwise.
Whatever happened to organic looking special effects?
Here's a good example:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgR9krQRHeA
That shit looked real, because it WAS!!!

Mmm... Me love Freddy Krueger...

Great review, it reminded me of what I thought of the film the second time I watched it (on DVD). An okay movie, with some cool moments but not without its flaws.

There. I told you I'd read one of your reviews :D You seem really into this, I should have read one sooner.

I didn't feel like it suffered from too many bad guys, but I did feel like they shoehorned too many in. Kinda like the "fight, exposit, travel." Except now, it's like "we need to hit X Y and Z before time is up."

But it was a decent action film. Without Netflix, I never would have bothered.

Hmmm yeah Im not gonna see this movie. I heard it sucked when it first came out and while yes I can shut off my brain, I dont think I can do it for this movie.

Well I'm posting a bit late, but great review. One question about the movie though, what was the secret about Van Helsing's past? I think it mentioned he was hundreds of years old, and had fought with the Romans. Do they ever explain it?

voetballeeuw:
Well I'm posting a bit late, but great review. One question about the movie though, what was the secret about Van Helsing's past? I think it mentioned he was hundreds of years old, and had fought with the Romans. Do they ever explain it?

 

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