Saturday, May 08, 2004

Van Helsing

[Film] Summer approaches topside and as generally happens this time of year cinema-goers can look forward to a couple of months of big releases. There're more than a couple of big sequels this year (Shrek 2, Spiderman 2, Harry Potter 3 and The Bourne Supremacy) and this seasons 'epics' Troy and The Day After Tomorrow are being heavily promoted. I thought with Kill Bill Part 2 and Van Helsing coming out in quick succession that the blockbuster season had already started, but I was mistaken, it stalled.

Van Helsing is a monster movie that's not content with just one monster, but should have opted for fewer characters and better quality. It pits Hugh Jackman's titular monster hunter against Count Dracula, who puts together a crew including his vampire brides and a couple of werewolves for some devilish plan. Along the way, Van Helsing also encounters Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde and Frankenstein's monster, gets assigned a sidekick and develops a love interest.

Starting out well enough with a black & white introductory sequence that reminded me of old Hammer horror flicks, it descends into CGI-dependant sub-averageness. For an action/horror movie the plot lacks any suspence and there seemed to be a bunch of sub-plots splintering off but not really going anywhere as the film progressed. I was left wondering what I was meant to be giving a shit about: whether Van Helsing & Friar Carl (or anyone else for that matter) lives or dies, the salvation or damnation of the Valerious family or if Dracula's plan comes off or not (though for most of the film we're left wondering what his plan actually is). The scoring worked for me, but I started to wonder if the director had a fetish for faces with the frequency of close-ups that the audience is subjected to (Fangs, fangs and more fangs. OK, they're vampires. We get it. Get on with it.).

It's now easy to see why the domestic media is focusing on the Jackman/Wenham Australian connection; it's a pretty bad film that's only mitigated by Jackman and Wenham. Jackman gets to play the glib action hero, Wenham the Q-esque comic relief. I hope Kate Beckinsale had fun doing stunts and wirework because her accent & dialogue delivery is truely awful. But she's not alone on that front; next to the reliance on special effects (what's with all that swinging around on cables at the end?), the sheer amount of laboured exposition makes VH a trial to sit through.

Only see Van Helsing if you needed The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen more than air. Hopefully the franchise will find salvation in its animated prequel Van Helsing: London Assignment in the same way that I found The Animatrix more enjoyable than The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions.

Posted by Dean @ 5/08/2004 11:15:00 pm

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Posted by Blogger Dean @ Saturday, May 15, 2004 3:42:00 pm #
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