Van Helsing

Posted by drew On August - 15 - 20101,895 views

I have a love/hate relationship with this action/horror mash-up. It starts off promisingly enough (in glorious B&W) following a group of angry Transylvanian villagers as they storm Dr. Frankenstein’s castle. The scene is wonderfully enhanced by Alan Silvestri’s thundering gothic score.

Why are the aforementioned villagers so pissed? Well it seems that the Doc has been robbing graves in an attempt to create life. This scheme has been funded by a certain Count Dracula. As you can see, we’re firmly in the realm of classic horror here. There’s even a weasely hunchback named Ygor (well played by Kevin J. O’Connor.).

But the moment color enters the film, it starts to go downhill. We’re introduced to the titular vampire hunter played by Hugh Jackman. Ya’ see, Bram Stoker’s Professor has been reinvented here as a “Wolverineish” anti-hero, complete with memory loss and long lifespan. He works for the Catholic Church, smiting evil and killing monsters. As he’s just finished off the repulsive Mr. Hyde (one of the movie’s better scenes) his next assignment is to kill Dracula.

Going into plot details beyond that is a waste of time. It’s nonsense involving werewolves,Frankenstein’s monster, and Drac’s trio of sexy (if shrieking) vampire brides. The movie even ends by shamelessly ripping off a scene from the Lion King. This is one of those flicks that doesn’t make any sense, nor does it try to.

Still, it is relentlessly entertaining in a couple of ways. The gothic sets and costumes are wonderful, as are many of the stunts and special effects. Due to the production values alone, this is a gothic horror show to end all gothic horror shows. It’s style over substance turned up to 11.

Then we must take into account the so-bad-it’s good factor. The dialogue is laughable bad and there’s plot holes big enough to fit Castle Dracula in. Yet because of the gleefully hammy acting, I found myself embracing these flaws instead of scorning them. The actors are clearly having more fun than any professional film critic will allow themselves to have.

Long story short, this is one of those turn your brain off movies. If I started picking this apart, this review would be 100 pages long. There’s a lot that’s bad here. But if I get into the right frame of mind, I can enjoy an entertaining romp through some pop-cultural sludge. ‘Nuff said.

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