Wow, did this movie suck. I cannot believe I spent money to see this. To say nothing of the two and a half hours of my life that I will never get back. For that matter, I can't believe Universal spent $160 Million and 74 days in Prague alone on this. For Pete's sake, from a distance, it looks perfect. It has Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, David Wenham. Gifted, truly talented, performers, (Jackman: XMen & X2, Oklahoma; Wenham: LoTR:TTT & RotK; Beckinsale: Serendipity and, yes, Some Other Vampire/Werewolf Flick). Not their greatest performances here.
You can save yourself a lot of time and frustration by seeing something else, anything else. Anything. Mean Girls. Well, almost.
Van Helsing is a classic character, woven into the Dracula/Vampire genre. A torch not easily carried, and Jackman is capable. But he's following in the path of some giants. This movie tries to be too much, and falls grotesquely short. There are plenty of synopses available, here are three.
Forget that it should have been shot with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, but for some ungodly reason, was shot in the "big-budget, small-minded" 1.85:1. Why not just release it straight to video so it can collect dust next to Menudo's Greatest Hits? Man, I had such hope for this when I saw the trailers. Ugh! Where did they go wrong? Everywhere.
The writer and the Director are one in the same. Danger, Wil Robinson! Who wrote & directed this rubbish? Stephen Sommers. Sommers (who apparently did not write Howard the Duck, contrary to the stench), wrote and directed both Mummy and Returns, Deep Rising, The Jungle Book, and wrote The Scorpion King, (which I, being a big Dwayne Johnson fan, have nothing but praise for). OK. It can't be this guy's fault, he's obviously got some talent somewhere. Or has a basement full of decent writers locked up someplace.
The CGI. Universal must believe that if you throw enough money at (mediocre) CG, it'll make up for a pathetic excuse for a motion picture. Regrettably, they got the formula wrong and either failed to throw enough money into CG, or more than likely, spent way, way too much. Regardless, Mr. Hyde was a poor-excuse for an opponent. Silly Studios: CG is a crutch, get off it.
Kate's Romanian accent. Enough said.
A friar with gadgets. You're no Desmond Llewelyn, Senator.
Richard Roxburgh. Entirely unworthy and inadequate as Count Vladislaus Dracula. What, was Matthew Broderick unavailable? Gary Oldman was better than this in Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), which was not All It Could Be, either. They can't all be Christopher Lee.
And the producers should all do some serious prison time. Especially Bob Ducsay, both Editor and Producer. How much better off the viewing public would have been if Bob had left this stinking pile of dog feces of a film on the cutting room floor. Thanks, Bob.
There were a few saving graces, such as the performances by Shuler Hensley as Frankenstein's monster, Kevin O'Connor as Igor, and Elena Anaya as one of Dracula's brides (who outlives the others). Allen Daviau's Cinematography (E.T., Twilight Zone: The Movie, Empire of the Sun, Hearts in Atlantis) is great and represents what this film could have been. The makeup is totally on par, some of the effects were right-on, though they're used excessively. The sets and the locations were perfect. The real ones, anyway. Matte backgrounds, especially thouse that look like...are the devil. The ballroom scene was extremely well-choreographed. And to be fair, Beckinsale did everything Jackman did, not backwards, but in a corset and in heels, all while looking like a movie star. Fabulous. As for the acting, well.
Though apparently, for Mrs. Beckinsale, one Vampire/Werewolf/Action/Horror/Fantasy flick is your limit. I hope she's not in Alamo. She may have reached her limit already with Pearl Harbor.
Your Spidey Sense should be telling you to save your money for June 30th. Now there's a million-dollar trailer that you can see here.
Rating: 1/5: Complete Suckage
5/5: Drop everything and go see it today
4/5: Definitely worth seeing in theaters
3/5: Easily worth the price of the matinee
2/5: Last Choice at Blockbuster
1/5: Keep your money, stay home & channel surf