Eye For Film >> Movies >> Van Helsing (2004) Film Review
Van Helsing is a veritable compost heap of derivative ideas, flat acting and empty plot lines, overburdened with an unrestrained CGI budget that leaves the viewer glazed with a continuous projectile vomit of mutating monsters and falling masonry.
Written and directed by Stephen Sommers of The Mummy fame, it delivers a slickly familiar formula of invincible creatures of the night that takes an awful long time to stop roaring/hissing/face-mutating before getting down to the business of despatching a deeply annoying band of idiots, masquerading as saviours of the earth, etc. The aforementioned (Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, David Wenham) trio's efforts at avoiding fangs/claws/burning things offer a mildly amusing diversion in guessing from which action flick Sommers has stolen his moves.
Running up walls and somersaulting backwards, as snarling beasties bash their brains out below? Let's see - Matrix/Crouching Tiger/Spider-Man? Ditto spinning circular saws, with silver-tipped blades and crossbow machine guns. Just for a change, what about endless galleries of vampire spawn, hanging in slimy oval clusters all over the place....mmmm.... Alien/Invasion Of The Body Snatchers/Matrix (again)?
OK, let's dress it up in Victorian cossies and make a period drama. Throw the usual suspects - Count Drac and his wifies, Prof Frank and his DIY clone, a couple of werewolves and a few fiendish ghouls - into the mix. Not unlike The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, now that you mention it. In fact, it is hard to distinguish between the two, so interchangeable are their sentiments. And lets make the the sets merge perfectly with de rigeur pixal mountain fortress, a la Lord Of The Rings/Shrek/Harry Potter.
Desperately casting about for something original, there's no point looking at the actors, or plotline, or dialogue. Jackman, as Van Helsing, continues his gay imitation of Clint Eastwood that started in the X-Men series. Typically, he doesn't know who he is, or where he's from, but carries a vengeful streak and can "smell evil". This time, he has progressed to an ankle length great-coat and, in attempting to inhabit the mantle of "the man with no name", exposes a complete lack of talent and has to resort to his old trick of turning into a werewolf from time to time.
Beckinsale, who repeats her Underworld role (see under Female Vampire Slayer), seems bent on perfecting a Catherine Zeta-Jones impersonation, replete with husky Transylvanian accent and serial swinging from chandeliers and the like.
Could this be the movie that finally breaks the back of the CGI takeover of event movies? That reveals the repetitiveness of what passes for action and adventure these days? Or is it just the familiar kerchung of the Hollywood machine that prefers its fairground attractions reliably vacuous and worryingly unimaginative?Reviewed on: 06 May 2004