Van Helsing

May 7th, 2004








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Van Helsing

Van HelsingStill of Hugh Jackman in Van HelsingChaka Khan at event of Van HelsingStill of Kate Beckinsale and Richard Roxburgh in Van HelsingStill of Hugh Jackman in Van HelsingStill of Kate Beckinsale and Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing

Plot
The notorious monster hunter is sent to Transylvania to stop Count Dracula who is using Dr. Frankenstein's research and a werewolf for some sinister purpose.

Release Year: 2004

Rating: 5.7/10 (94,513 voted)

Critic's Score: 35/100

Director: Stephen Sommers

Stars: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh

Storyline
Van Helsing is in the world to rid all evil, even if not everyone agrees with him. The Vatican send the monster hunter and his ally, Carl to Transylvania. They have been sent to this land to stop the powerful Count Dracula. Whilst, here they join forces with a Gypsy Princess called Anna Valerious, who is determined to end an ancient curse on her family, by destroying the vampire. They just don't know how!

Cast:
Hugh Jackman - Van Helsing
Kate Beckinsale - Anna Valerious
Richard Roxburgh - Count Vladislaus Dracula
David Wenham - Carl
Shuler Hensley - Frankenstein's Monster
Elena Anaya - Aleera
Will Kemp - Velkan
Kevin J. O'Connor - Igor
Alun Armstrong - Cardinal Jinette
Silvia Colloca - Verona
Josie Maran - Marishka
Tom Fisher - Top Hat
Samuel West - Dr. Victor Frankenstein
Robbie Coltrane - Mr. Hyde
Stephen Fisher - Dr. Jekyll (as Stephen H. Fisher)

Taglines: Adventure lives forever.



Details

Official Website: Central Partnership [Russia] | Official site [uk] |

Release Date: 7 May 2004

Filming Locations: Downey Studios - 12214 Lakewood Boulevard, Downey, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $160,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $51,748,040 (USA) (9 May 2004) (3575 Screens)

Gross: $300,257,475 (Worldwide) (2004)



Technical Specs

Runtime:



Did You Know?

Trivia:
The place where Van Helsing and Anna fight Dracula's three wives is the same place where they filmed Frankenstein (1931) Dracula and The Wolf Man. The place is call the Court of Miracles and this place is also found at the studio tour at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Goofs:
Plot holes: When Anna and Velkan are fighting the werewolf at the beginning of the movie, there are about a dozen people helping them. Who exactly are these people, and where do they disappear to for the rest of the movie, when Anna could have used more of their help?

Quotes:
[first lines]
Dr. Victor Frankenstein: It's alive. It's alive. It's alive!



User Review

Double-O Van Helsing, Superhero

Rating: 10/10

First a word of warning. There are a number of people who would be best advised to avoid Van Helsing. If you dislike cgi, if you're a purist, if you're looking for something "realistic", or if you're looking for a slower-moving, understated film that's a deep character study, you'll more than likely hate this film.

Set around the turn of the 20th Century, Van Helsing features the titular hero (Hugh Jackman) taking a break from his usual "monster slayer" activities, which are commissioned by the Catholic Church, to pursue a grand plot initiated by Dracula (Richard Roxburg) involving the Frankenstein Monster (Shuler Hensley), the Wolf Man (Will Kemp), and the two last surviving members of a Transylvanian family that has long been battling the vampire.

Van Helsing is a fast-paced, computer graphics-laden horror/adventure/fantasy film wherein Universal re-imagines its core stable of classic horror characters. I actually like cgi, I'm not a purist, I love the genres--I'm not looking for realism, and I love fast-paced action-oriented thrill rides as much if not more than I love character studies.

As for the character remakes, Van Helsing becomes a slick retro-Matrix-styled macho action hero, part James Bond/007, part Indiana Jones, part Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a secret Catholic Church order filling in for the Watcher's Council and the Bond "Q Branch" combined. Dracula becomes a suave, scheming, mad scientist who looks like a romance novel hero. Frankenstein's Monster becomes much closer to Mary Shelley's depiction of an intelligent, loquacious, tormented, slapdash victim of a misguided doctor. And the Wolf Man, when wolf, becomes a cgi generated over-sized, super-agile, hyperactive beast. That should already turn off all of the purists.

The look of the film is lush, with lots of unusual point of view shots, exotic locations and computer-generated environments. CGI is used extensively for the human characters in the film as well as the monsters--it's frequently employed to enable physics defying stunts and amazing, far-ranging "computer camera" transitions. Van Helsing provides a good argument for such extensive digital assistance, as many of the visuals would be simply impossible to achieve through any other means and substituting some of the creatures with mechanicals, animatronics, special effects makeup and the like would have caused the film to go far over its already outrageous estimated budget of 160 million.

The plot, while not deep on characterization, couldn't be more full of events and action. Combined with the extravagant visuals and quickly changing, sprawling locations, the result is epic in scope. Director/writer Stephen Sommers, who was also responsible for remaking the image of another classic Universal character in The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001) (probably the reason the Mummy is not present in here), begins Van Helsing in a black and white scene that wonderfully recreates the feel of the James Whale-lensed Frankenstein films, including referencing a number of shots, scenes and characters from those classics.

After the titles, we move into a color-filled world ala The Wizard of Oz while we're treated to a brief character-establishing scene of Van Helsing battling Mr. Hyde in the bell tower of Notre Dame. Sommers then quickly whisks us away to the Vatican, where Van Helsing receives his orders.

This whirlwind beginning can be almost overwhelming--it certainly is visually--and it takes a moment to get up to speed and catch our breath, but once we settle into the town square of Transylvania, we're enraptured by the story and the pacing reaches a more sustainable level. Although fantastical at heart, the performances from the principle cast members help anchor the film in "reality". Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Roxburgh, Henley and David Wenham all turn in nuanced performances that imply the depth of character that the film does not have the time to fully explore.

The intense action throughout the film combined with the cgi and spectacular sweeping camera moves often gives Van Helsing a feel somewhere between a comic book film and a video game. That fact might turn some viewers off, but as innovative, suspenseful, exciting filmic art, this is years ahead of most other recent releases. In fact, the sophisticated technological wizardry and entrancing epic storytelling is somewhat reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings films, which makes me wonder just what other viewers see in those to enable them to consistently sit high on the IMDb Top 250 list while Van Helsing struggles to attain a slightly above average rating. Perhaps Van Helsing deserves a more tempered first or second viewing from those who have summarily dismissed it due to unjustified expectations/preconceptions. This really is an outstanding film that at least deserves to be appreciated on a technical level, and should be easy enough to enjoy for its action-oriented storytelling prowess as well.




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