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Van Helsing (2004)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Stephen Sommers

Starring:
Hugh Jackman/Van Helsing
Kate Beckinsale/Anna
Richard Roxburgh/Dracula
David Wenham/Carl
6 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
An Indiana Jones/Man With No Name type of hero (Jackman) + Kate Beckinsale’s scrumptious heart-shaped buttocks + a scene gnawing Dracula (Roxburgh) + a paper thin script + a truck load of CGI effects = Van Helsing.
THE LOWDOWN
If you’re looking for a historically accurate period piece with a fleshed-out narrative, layered characters or subtle exposition...don’t even bother looking at the poster of "Van Helsing", let alone checking out the film. But if you’re able to have a good time solely with a thick “happy-happy-joy-joy” layer of cake icing while being gifted at suspending disbelief...you’ve hit the right nugget. I personally got a few jolts in the gnards out of “Van Helsing” in an “amusement park ride” type of way.

I hopped in the little red wagon, strapped on my security belt, shut off my brain, unzipped my pants and was driven inside a vast, lush and loud fantasy world. I was smiling like a fortunate dude sucking on Beckinsale’s left butt cheek as I witnessed the sly black n’ white reenactment of the finale of Frankenstein (1931), the mood imbued Transylvanian setting, the updated classic Universal monsters at hand (loved the surprise guest), the various razor weapons, the female vamp hotties, the jaw-dropping production designs (all about that Masked Ball…wow) and the endless barrage of flamboyant, noisy and extensive action/stunt set pieces. Even the overdose of CGI didn’t bother me much since I’ve come to terms with the fact that CG will never look 100% real, especially when it comes to communicating full fledged characters. Although the computer tricks varied in terms of worth throughout, I found the designs (on a set and creature level) to be excellent across the board, therefore compensating for the sub-par executions at times.

Surprisingly, I also found myself laughing like a drugged-up hyena on this excursion! To me, that’s priceless! Some of the one-liners and “comic relief” players (Carl and Igor) sure hit my spot! THANK YOU! The biggest riot of all though was unquestionably Richard Roxburgh’s insane show as Dracula. Many have panned his performance as being the lousiest Dracula to ever grace the screen, and to be honest, when he first popped up...I felt the same way. But as the clock ticked forward, I warmed up to him to the point where I couldn’t help but be mucho entertained by his ham-fisted, no boundaries showcase. At least he had personality! I respect Roxburgh for giving us a unique take on the famous character and for sprinting with it as far as he could. It was a ballsy move and in “safe” summer fluff like this...bulldog balls are always appreciated…by me anyways!

On the sloppy plane of this one’s existence, let’s face it...this rock and roller was nothing more than eye and ear candy with the screenplay being more akin to an outline than a comprehensive offering. The titular character of Van Helsing (Jackman), for example, wasn’t given much to do but react, fight and take off his shirt. Who was he again? Oh yeah, the dude with the kool hat! The same can be said about the bothersome Frankenstein Monster (Hensely) whose constant whining and lazy exposition-dropping grated me. SHAT UP AND PISS OFF ALREADY! Furthermore, the pace of the flick lagged at times. The action got redundant in places and the “story” moments were mostly un-involving since…well…there was no story to speak of. Lastly, the random moments of overacting, the failed physical comedy (I detest pratfalls) and the tackiness (face in cloud a-holes...face in cloud) didn’t go down too well with this jerk. BARFFFF!

It’s hollow, bright, loud, dumb and if you go with it...it's fun. When the end credits rolled, I could say that I got off while watching "Van Helsing", but looking back, not much of it stayed with me. I would compare this piece of celluloid to an eager, yet dumb prostitute. You pay her money, she plays your flute like a pro, you smile, you go home and forget all about her in the blink of a fart. Question is...you looking for a cheap time or not? SUCKY SUCKY...HELSING LOVE YOU LONG TIME!
GORE
Not much gore in this PG-13 journey, but we do get impalings, stakings, off-screen vamp bites, a cut off arm, slashes, flesh ripping werewolf transformations and an army of varied CG beasties.
ACTING
Hugh Jackman (Van Helsing) played it “Dirty Harry” down: kool and gruffly. He did what he had to do, which was sadly not much. At least he looked kool! Kate Beckinsale (Anna) let her thick accent and her derriere do most of the acting. Great acting on the butt’s part! Richard Roxburgh (Dracula) was the highlight for me. Once I got used to him, I truly enjoyed his wild, unpredictable and original take on the Count. David Wenham (Carl) was mostly a hit as the “comic relief” Monk (or is it Friar?) Shuler Hensley (Frankenstein Monster) underwhelmed me. I never felt the required pathos from the character and his lines irritated the pants out of me. Sommers regular Kevin J. O'Connor (Igor) owned “dead pan” wise as per usual: the man was side-splitting! Josie Maran (Marishka) had awe-inspiring cleavage while Will Kemp (Velkan) was lifted off the pages of GQ. Do with that what you will.
T & A
We get lots of yummy cleavage and nipples breast shots off the trio of vamps. We also get Beckinsale acting with her sweet bumper. The ladies get shirtless men with the prize being ex-porn actor Hugh Jackman showing off his stuff.
DIRECTING
Sommers went "all out" in the polish the shoe with the shine department! He went bonkers with zany angles, awesome moments of slow motion madness, excessive, yet well executed, action bits while backing it all up with lots of energy.
SOUNDTRACK
We get a deafening yet winning score by Alan Silvestri that supported the action bang-on!
BOTTOM LINE
With $150 million budget, you would think they’d hire a good script doctor to smooth things out, but what can you do...this is what we got. My advice: don’t go see "Van Helsing" with a shovel up your ass and expect to have a good time! Try a tub of popcorn and a brain number instead. This sucka was nothing more than a basis to show off revamped Universal Classic Monsters while machine-gunning extravagant, scotch-taped action sequences our way. And you know what? I found ample entertainment in that! If you’re looking for more, I suggest you rent the Universal Classics again, hit up "Monster Squad", "Waxwork" or wait for "Dracula 3: Legacy" to hit video shelves (in August 2004). They all sport some of what “Van Helsing” put out, but in a way more fleshed out and grounded manner.
BULL'S EYE
In 1994 “Van Helsing” was initially supposed to be a direct sequel to Coppola’s "Dracula" (1992) with Anthony Hopkins in the title role. As the project got pushed back, that idea changed to become this film.

The budget for Van Helsing was around $150 million.

Expect an NBC spin off TV Show (currently titled "Transylvania.") to hit your tube in the Fall of 2004. Stephen Sommers is writing the script for the pilot and will executive produce the show which will be about a Cowboy fighting the forces of evil.
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