Van Helsing

Drive A Stake Through This One

Main Cast: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsdale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham

Director: Stephen Sommers

Well, the special effects were darn good! That’s about the best I can say for this movie. Too bad, I really wanted it to work. It combines Frankenstein’s monster, werewolves, vampires, and a dark hero in a mess of a plot, something to be poured down the drain.

The plot: Van Helsing (Jackman), a roving agent of the church, is sent out to take care of the more mysterious and supernatural beasties too powerful for mere mortals. VH is quite a guy, able to swing around tall churches with his rope gun and take a horrible beatin’ without going down. He quickly dispatches Mr. Hyde at the beginning of the film and is sent to Transylvania in order to take Count Dracula (Roxburgh) down. The count, meanwhile, has already killed Doctor Frankenstein, after hiring him to create the monster.

Dracula wishes to use the creature in a dark plan to bring life to his own kiddies, who hang around in sacks of goo waiting for a stroke of lightning powered through the monster… okay, it doesn’t make much sense. But this is just the tip of this muddled iceberg.

Everything is complicated enough, but more is added to the plate when Anna Valerious (Beckinsdale) and her brother are introduced. The man is quickly overtaken by a werewolf, and the woman tries to save him. She hooks up with Van Helsing, and the hunt for her werewolf brother leads them to the Count himself.

Fair enough. I won’t give much more of the plot away, but I will add a few more comments:

– The director is aiming for the ’20s/’30s old-style Universal horror pictures, but I think he added too many elements. We didn’t need every single monster and beastie. Isn’t Count Dracula powerful enough?

– There are way too many close escapes and completely impossible stunts done by various persons. I laughed in disbelief at some of the things that happened, but Frankenstein’s monster saving not one but two people in one scene is the worst, and the way he did it… never mind. This is a perfect example of the plot driving the characters. It should be the other way around.

Lastly, bad acting (although Roxburgh, who plays Dracula, shines with over-the-top sincerity) and bad laughs put the final nails in this coffin. There are better horror movies out there. Even Underworld, with Beckinsdale in the lead rather than a tag-along, is better.

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