275 – Van Helsing

Despite awful reviews and box office, this isn’t quite that terrible. Granted, it’s not exactly mind-blowing escapist fun, with loads of unintentionally funny moments, but not an entire disgrace. Maybe it just plays better on hte small screen, where typically our expectations are a little lower than they are for films seen in the theater.

Hugh Jackman plays Gabriel Van Helsing, a man on a mission from the Vatican to rid the world of evil, evil, and more evil. His latest objective is to stop Count Dracula in Transylvania, where apparently the ageless nobleman has been terrorizing the neighboring village, particularly one Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale), who’s the last in her family, and apparently if she dies the Count will be free to live in perpetuity, or something. What’s important is that she’s the last one. And the Count’s forever trying to kill her by sending his three harpies/wives to get her, but they haven’t succeeded.

In addition to Dracula, other literary characters include Frankenstein’s Monster (and Frankenstein himself), Igor, the Wolf Man, and Mr. Hyde, with an allusion to the good Dr. Jekyll. All of whom are meant to distract you from the fact that the movie is a lot of furious anger.

This is one of those movies in which people get thrown off of castle parapets and hurled against walls
– and seemingly suffer nothing more than the occasional owie. I mean, we know
Dracula’s pretty much immortal, but Van Helsing and Anna aren’t, and yet there they are, swinging madly from ropes into plate-glass windows and such. It’s not so much maddening as it’s a sign of sorts, that this is simply not a movie to be Thought About much.

All in all, it’s pretty much a heap of junk. Beckinsale is really pretty good in it – if you liked her in Underworld, you’ll like her here – but poor Hugh Jackman is dull. And it’s just not entirely his fault; the script, from the dialog to the stunts, are boring as hell. Jackman’s not given a lot to work with here; he grunts menacingly, tilts his head with authority, and beats monsters up. Ho hum. At one point, he bears an uncanny resemblence to wrestling’s The Undertaker, and frankly I think the producers here could have just used the ‘Taker instead and saved Mr. Jackman’s prodigious salary. At least then we could have viewed this as a campy piece of schlock, but alas – no.

It’s kind of a comedown for director Stephen Sommers, who gave us the two recent Mummy movies, but those films had far better CGI – and a better storyline. This one gets convoluted toward
the end, and yet it remains precdictable and trite.

**

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