Van Helsing

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     Most of the time I'm one of those movie reviewers who turns up his nose at certain low-brow movies such as American Pie.  But, I really don't know what those stuck-up movie reviewers were expecting when they went to see Van Helsing. Were they expecting some stylish art-house Indie film about vampires and werewolves? According to Rotten Tomatoes, there were 39 "fresh" and 119 "rotten" reviews for Van Helsing. It is beside the point that Rotten Tomatoes has no interest in including my reviews on their website! Where was I? Oh ya, expectations are so important when going to see a movie such as Van Helsing. This new Dracula/Frankenstein/Wolfman movie was written and directed by Stephen Sommers who also wrote and directed the two recent Mummy movies.  If you saw those "films" you would know that Van Helsing is not going to be a "serious" film. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns were fairly amusing even though they were pretty stupid.  They were carried along by nonstop action, some funny riffs on the old Mummy movies, as well as a nice cast led by Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weitz.  Van Helsing is cut from the same cloth and ends up being a better movie than either of the Mummies.

    Van Helsing tells the story of an updated, younger, sexier version of the famous vampire hunter who was a character in the original Dracula book. He has appeared as a character in 44 movies, played by such illustrious actors as Peter Cushing (in 6 films), Mel Brooks, Richard Benjamin, Peter Fonda, Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Olivier, Christopher Plummer and Rod Steiger. Onto this stage steps Hugh Jackman.  His Van Helsing has to deal with not only Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) but also Frankenstein's monster (Shuler Hensley), the Wolfman (Will Kemp) and even Mr. Hyde (he's computer generated but has Robbie Coltrane's voice).  Van Helsing is the 007 of the undead.  He works for a Vatican version of MI-6 which even has its very own Q (David Wenham) working on contraptions in the basement.  Van Helsing, equipped with the latest in crossbow machine guns, grappling hooks and various cutting and stabbing weapons, sets out for Romania along with Q to take care of business.  Don't worry, he brings along lots of stakes, silver bullets, crosses, garlic and holy water as well. Once he arrives, he hooks up with a beautiful, local, vampire hunter (Kate Beckinsale) to fight off the daily (hourly?) attacks from hungry vampires and wolfmen. Frankenstein's monster is there too but as always he is a unsure as to whose side he is on. Oh ya, Igor (Kevin J. O'Connor) is on the scene as well.

    I have to say that even though there isn't a rational moment in the script, Van Helsing is a pretty amusing movie. For one thing, all the characters, good and evil, seem to be having a such a good time trying to kill each other that the feeling is infectious. There are lots of special effects that are fun but don't worry about looking a bit cartoony. The story moves right along and the script has quite a few good lines. The cast is good, especially Wenham, Roxburgh and Beckinsale.  Beckinsale actually played a vampire in her last movie, Underworld so maybe she is the new Peter Cushing. She has an adorable Romanian accent in Van Helsing. But this is Hugh Jackman's movie and he's very good. Jackman showed in X-Men that he can play an amusing, world-weary superhero and he continues in that vein in Van Helsing. And, he along with Beckinsale provide more than enough eye-candy for both genders. Anyway, ignore the critics, except for me, lower your expectations, go see Van Helsing and have a good time.