Van Helsing : Movie Review

Van Helsing (2004) - Movie posterHugh Jackman is notorious monster-hunter Gabriel Van Helsing. Employed by a shadowy Vatican based evil-fighting organisation he’s sent to Romania to help Anna Valerious, gypsy princess, destroy Dracula.

Van Helsing is an ambiguous character constantly walking the fine line between monster-hunter and murderer. But after two outings as Wolverine, and now as Van Helsing, Jackman has clearly perfected the hero with a tortured soul and delivers an impressive performance.

Beckinsale is also on excellent form. However whilst their characters are superficially engaging, the non-stop action prevents us from fully understanding them and consequently it’s difficult to truly empathise with them.

Van Helsing begins as a fun and visually dazzling no-brainer action flick that works well as a simple vengeance (vanquish-Dracula-and-free-my-family-from-eternal-purgatory) story.

But when writer director Sommers introduces a Dracula megalomania subplot the film becomes a far more complex proposition. Sommers appearing to have been influenced by monster-movie-with-high-concept-script-specialist Ang (Hulk) Lee.

The plot strands eventually become rather numerous and confusing. And my brain, that had been happily coasting in neutral enjoying the fighting and action, had difficulty quick-shifting up into high-gear.

It’s these faults, along with the dreadful performances from David Wenham and Richard Roxburgh, that sees Van Helsing failing to live up to its early promise, although Allen Daviau’s cinematography is absolutely perfect at times.

Ultimately the movie is impressive and ineffectual in almost equal measure. The clearest illustration of this being the opening and closing scenes: a delightful pastiche of early Hollywood monster movies and a hideously heavy-handed instance of faux-poignant direction respectively.

3 stars out of 5

Author : Kevin Stanley