Van Helsing Review

by Steve Rhodes (Steve DOT Rhodes AT InternetReviews DOT com)
May 7th, 2004

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes
RATING (0 TO ****): *

Welcome to the start of the 2004 movie season. After the stunning success of last summer's high profile film, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, it makes sense to start off this summer's season with its sequel, VAN HELSING.
Oops, I forgot. THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, for all of its hype, turned out to be a box office bomb and a barely watchable movie. And, even if the plot of VAN HELSING sounds a lot like THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, it actually isn't a sequel. It's also not a sequel to a somewhat similar and equally awful picture, UNDERWORLD, which starred Kate Beckensale, the co-star of VAN HELSING. VAN HELSING is by writer/director Stephen Sommers, whose last film, THE MUMMY RETURNS, was yet another bloated and brain-dead action picture. You'll see several of the special effects from THE MUMMY RETURNS repeated in VAN HELSING.

VAN HELSING's story involves Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh), Frankenstein's Monster (Shuler Hensley) and Dr. Jekyll (Stephen Fisher), as well as a couple of vampire killers, Anna Valerious (Beckinsale) and Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman). Actually Van Helsing, whose current weapon of choice is a gas-powered machine gun crossbow, is a killer for hire who is ready to annihilate whatever monsters the Vatican tells him to eliminate. I could tell you more, but, since the script is utterly irrelevant, I won't waste your time. The movie is little more than a long sequence of superhero-type fights. Bring your earplugs because this ungodly mess is as painfully loud as it is mind-numbingly stupid.
The movie plays like one long preview for a video game. The film's CGI sets are as handsome as you'd find produced by the finest game machines.

About the only thing good about VAN HELSING -- other than that it finally lets the audience escape by rolling the credits -- is that Hugh Jackman looks spectacular in his big black hat with a mile-long brim. The hat covers his eyes, which helps to hide his embarrassment for having been associated with this pathetic picture.

VAN HELSING runs way, way too long at 2:13. It is rated PG-13 for "nonstop creature action violence and frightening images, and for sensuality" and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.

The film opens nationwide in the United States on Friday, May 7, 2004. In the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the AMC and the Century theaters.
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