Van Helsing

2004

Action / Adventure

Synopsis


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Cast

Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing
Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious
Richard Roxburgh as Count Vladislaus Dracula
Shuler Hensley as Frankenstein's Monster
720p 1080p
850.75 MB
1280*688
English
PG-13
English
23.976 fps
2hr 11 min
P/S 21 / 90
1.75 GB
1920*1040
English
PG-13
English
23.976 fps
2hr 11 min
P/S 16 / 37

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Brandt Sponseller 10 / 10

Double-O Van Helsing, Superhero

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.

Reviewed by Axel-9 7 / 10

Silly, lacking in plot, but good fun

It's big, it's dumb, it's cheesy as hell, but I found it to be enormous fun. This was made to be a roller-coaster ride and by that token it should be judged.

Actually after the opening pastiche of the Boris Karloff Frankenstein movie, I thought this had the potential to be a 5 star movie. It was very atmospheric and had me hooked. However the film never really captures any sense of magic from there onwards.

The main body of the movie does go on a bit, and it could have done with some attempt to create engaging characters. Plot and story are not always necessary for fun movies, but you do need characters with a level of interest to capture the mind, otherwise you tend to find yourself not giving a s**t. I felt Van Helsing did verge into this territory, but for the most part it's so fast paced this doesn't matter so much. The points where it does try to introduce plot are the moments where it really does fail. In fact there is too much going on that is never really explained, and I think it would've been better not to have bothered at all, than use the nonsense Sommers resorts too. For example the attempts at backstory to Van Helsing. Better to have one of those interlude chatty scenes you have in the Indy films, where it establishes he's a dude, rather than the poor attempts at angst and pathos. Really bad was the moment he gets upset over Frankie's Monster. What the hell was that all about?

Hmm maybe I took that a bit seriously, but the movie knows what it is, why try be something else. I also thought that that masked ball sequence was a natural conclusion, the eventual finale at the castle felt like an add on, which lacked any real punch.

Far better was Van's introduction to Transylvania, with the benefit of some neat angles and panning shots, the crossbow battle with the brides was cool. The coach chase was exciting without being exhilarating, but kept the flow going, so it's a shame some more bad plot gets thrown in, especially when it was involving the underwritten Velkan. That's the film's main problem - overkill of characters, with little space given to any of them to evolve.

Finally a word on the CGI. I thought it was very good, especially the morphs that were used. The very first moment Drac starts to turn made me jump a touch, and when the vampires turns into their fanged, contorted state it looked pretty scary to me. The wolfman transformation, with the ripping flesh looked genuinely painful. At this point I was thinking the CGI was genuinely stunning. I'd have preferred the finale if it had just been Van vs Drac though, having CGI characters fight felt uninvolving, and Drac in snarly state was far better than the beast he turns into.

This is a movie to genuinely switch of the brain and enjoy. At times there's too much going on and perhaps a bit too much swinging about for my liking, but it's an adrenaline filled ride. I'd probably give it 7 out of 10.

Reviewed by georginaashdown 7 / 10

Good stuff

Having watched the film (more than once)i must say that i think that the person who wrote the comment "A Stupid and Extremely Disappointing Movie" is being silghtly childish. You cannot watch a film like Van Helsing with out taking it with a pinch of salt - it is a movie with vampires, werewolves and the frankenstine monster in at all at once for goodness sake. So you cannot go in to it thinking in a literal sense. You have to accept that it is not going to be some ground breaking epic and that it is just a bit of fun - but at the end of the day that doesn't matter, because if you go in with the right attitude and you enjoy it, then what does it matter that it is a bit "off" in places. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and would definitely recommend it to any one who likes action/fantasy films and is up for a bit of fun!

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