Van Helsing (2004)

Directed by Stephen Sommers

Years ago there was a song or album title something along the lines of “Too much is never enough.” Well, that’s wrong. Too much is not only too much but it also makes for a wretched movie.

Like Van Helsing. Wow! Does this one ever stink out the place!

But you know, you could live with a few bad movies if they didn’t have such wasted potential, again like Van Helsing.

On the surface, it seems like a good idea – a big movie that pulls together all the old Hollywood monsters hunted by the master monster hunter, Van Helsing. Sounds good enough – but what if you also throw in some very good actors?

Now, there’s a movie with potential.

Unfortunately, some nitwit got a hold of it and turned it into some misguided orgiastic homage to old horror movies. Clearly, they didn’t understand what made those movies good.

Probably the biggest thing those older movies had going for them was our belief in them. When first seen, probably when we were very young, they were credible.

We believed in the monsters and the situation and were therefore tingling with the suspense of it all.

Well, there is absolutely no suspense in Van Helsing and it’s as frightening as apple pie. But less interesting.

Kate Beckinsale and Hugh Jackman in Van Helsing.

You might argue that the problem is the lack of a story. I would counter by saying that isn’t quite so.

There is a story – in fact, there are about fifteen half-baked stories bubbling up but none taking hold as the primary one. The story bits are borrowed from all the legends and back stories of Frankenstein, Wolf man, Dracula and on and on.

Van Helsing can’t decide which one it wants to focus on.

In fact, the movie confuses the parts with the whole. The parts should accent and fill-in the film, not be the whole of it. That just makes a muddle.

It’s also possible the film opens itself up to some litigation. Anyone who works in CGI must be thinking of suing for the very bad name this movie gives computer generated images.

Again, it confuses this cinematic enhancement with the whole of the film. So Van Helsing gorges itself on special effects that aren’t really so special. They just undermine any credibility the movie might have had.

Is the movie supposed to be a funny take on monsters? Possibly. But if so why is it so singularly unfunny? That’s one accomplishment that is pretty impressive when you consider how witty Hugh Jackman can be. How did they manage to bury that?

If Van Helsing has anything going for it that would be Kate Beckinsale in leather boots and a corset.

Now that’s lovely.

Sadly, it doesn’t make a movie.

(And on the subject of Kate Beckinsale – what’s up with her these days? She’s a fabulous actress, has been steller in a number of great dramatic films. But when it comes to big Hollywood blockbuster movies she seems to have a nose for real stinkers like Van Helsing and Underworld.)

© 2004 Piddleville Inc.

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