I know that this movie has been a pet hate for a couple of friends who used to do a great movie double bill podcast, so when Van Helsing appeared on TV, I had to see if it really was that bad. Yes. It's that bad. I could end the review there, it's almost not worth taking time over, but hatchet jobs are so much more fun than fawning over the latest Chris Nolan film. So here goes.
It starts off in an almost promising way. It's quite a nice idea for the beginning to start at the end of Frankenstein, hypothesising what might happen next. However by the time it cuts to a year later and Van Helsing is introduced it all goes to shit. So the promise only lasts about 5 minutes then, it soon fades and crapness abounds.
Even Hugh Jackman can't polish this turd of a film. He desperately tries to channel his inner Wolverine into Van Helsing, but there’s really nothing to work with in the boring plot and clunky dialogue. Richard Roxburgh as Count Dracula tries to ham it up, but really just fucks it up. Having been perfect as Faramir and even good in 300, David Wenham is woeful as friar Carl. I guess Kate Beckinsale is meant to be eye candy, but she is as far from the almost identical character of Selene as possible; if that's possible.
There is also plenty of rubbish plotting. Why does VH work for Alun Armstrong in The Vatican? Why is Q-branch from James Bond underneath the Vatican with David Wenham’s ropey friar heading up the research? I suppose at least friar Carl does a better job than Q ever did in Bond (see Octopussy). Why do we see Kate Beckinsale in the clouds rejoining the rest of her dead family, why, why? NB, this is not a Carl Weathers and alligator waving at Happy Gilmore kind of a moment, this is a serious naff cheesefest kind of a moment! Why, when Dracula walks up walls and onto the ceiling, does it look like it predates the special effects that allowed David Bowie to do it in labyrinth 20 years earlier?
So many parts are lifted from other movies: Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolfman are obvious, but Labyrinth, The Good The Bad and The Ugly and James Bond too? So many other parts are nonsensical, not followed up or just plain stupid they're too numerous to mention.
Stephen Sommers must take the blame for most of this as both writer and director, but the same is true of The Mummy, so I don’t know what went wrong this time. Overall this is just worth avoiding, the first 5 minutes do not make it worthwhile seeing. But, you know, that's just, like, my opinion man.