Van Helsing Stephen Sommers

Stephen Sommers' Van Helsing is a truly astonishing film. You will marvel at the ridiculous amount of money spent, the over-the-top computer graphics and the cumbersome, trying script. Who knew a movie with Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman could be so lacklustre? Honestly, Abbott and Costello gave it a better shot. Gabriel Van Helsing works for the Vatican secret service. He's sort of a supernatural James Bond — there is even a scene with the 19th century Q (in this case, a friar named Carl) handing him various weapons and gadgets to fight the undead — waging war against the forces of evil. He's sent to Transylvania to help the Royal family in their battle against Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). When a werewolf bites her brother, Anna Valerius (Kate Beckinsale) is the last in the line of vampire hunters, so Van Helsing and Anna band together to stop Dracula and his minions while trying to solve the mysteries of both their pasts. There are extras a-plenty but they aren't very interesting. The commentary just reminds us that a ridiculous amount of money was spent on special effects rather than script. I had hopes that "The Legend of Van Helsing" would cover the various interpretations of the character over the last century but after a good start with Tod Browning's version it goes right back to Sommers' version. Hugh Jackson is funny and I admire that he moves from Wolverine to Peter Allen biographies but there's only so much you can say about a guy who is essentially a comic book character (or rather, a poorly drawn comic book character). (The fact that the first level of the Van Helsing X-Box game is included as an extra says it all.) Van Helsing is the best argument against the proliferation of computer graphics in movies: no one knows where to stop and the movies suffer for it. They think we won't notice that the movie is crap if there's enough flash. Rent Ray Harryhausen and The Clash of the Titans instead. Sure, it might look fake but imagination can make up for a lot. Plus: bloopers, more. (Universal)