Thursday, September 30, 2004

Van Helsing

I just watched this movie on DVD and it was a huge disappointment. This is not a good film. The effects are almost totally unrealistic looking CGI (please, give me a man in a Wolf Man costume next time, not some crappy computer effect), the script was juvenile, the dialogue stilted and that's just for starters.

I love the original Universal pictures that this movie took its inspiration from (Dracula, Frankenstein and The Wolf Man are beloved classics), but the makers seem to have no love or understanding of the genre. The actor playing Dracula was awful, really bad, looking more like an old queen than the epitome of evil. This was a really dreadful bit of miscasting. The Wolf Man was a sorry excuse for a special effect- looking much less convincing than the original from the thirties. Have these people never seen American Werewolf in London- don't they know how it's supposed to be done? The Brides of Dracula spent most of the film as flying harpies that couldn't compete with a Ray Harryhausen effort and were neither seductive nor sexy. Frankenstein's monster was just pathetic. Jeez, if they could rig up Boris Karloff to be the Monster back in the '30s, why on earth did we end up with this sorry being? Herman Munster was scarier- and, again, more convincing.

As for the two leads of the film- Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale; Hugh seems to have had his personality wiped for this feature (he was so good as Wolverine, but he just didn't do anything for this role, though that could be entirely the fault of the awful script and poor direction) while Kate looked as bad as I've ever seen her look. She was supposed to be a gypsy princess but dressed like an extra from Pirates of the Caribbean and her make-up seemed to have been applied in such a way as to make her look older and less attractive than she actually is.

As I've been writing I've been trying to think of some redeeming quality to this film, but none spring to mind. At a few points it mimicked Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula (which is what it should have been called, because it most certainly wasn't Bram Stoker's vision), but that only served to show how bad this is. Coppola's film was by no means perfect but it got so much right- the Brides, the outstanding Gary Oldman as Dracula, the great sets- that it can be forgiven for Anthony Hopkins crappy overacting. No, nothing about Van Helsing strikes me as being good, or for that matter, even average. I didn't like the opening sequence with Jekyll and Hyde- it just made me think of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (a decidedly mundane film, but an awesome graphic novel) and came a poor second to it too. I didn't even like Van Helsing's full auto crossbow. Come on guys, if you're going to give him a Q sidekick, at least come up with some cool gadgets.

Sorry, but this film disappointed me on so many levels that I can't give it any recommendation. The only plus point I can conceive is that it might make me jot down a few thoughts of my own- on what the script should have been like.

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