> Volume 6 > Number 19


Stephen Sommers

Hugh Jackman
Kate Beckinsale
Richard Roxburgh
David Wenham

Release: 7 May 04

Van Helsing


If thereís anything good to come out of Van Helsing, itís the movie tie-ins. Where most movies have McDonalds happy meal toys and action figures, Van Helsing gets DVDs that are worth suffering through this film at least once. Sets of The Wolf Man, Frankenstein, and Dracula, as well as their sequels, are now sitting in video stores around the country, a fitting choice to detox following a multiplex screening of this horrible Universal film.

Like last yearís League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the premise of the entire film is built on the bastardization of important literary characters: they still remain in late 19th Century but their snide remarks and technologically advanced gadgets are straight from today. Worse yet, the dimensions created by Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Bram Stoker, and Mary Shelley has been lost in the phantasmagoria of CGI hokum and flimflammery. Of course, Universal has done this before with their beloved property by letting the same director, Stephen Sommers, turn The Mummy into mindless action and nonexistent storytelling.

Whatís more, no one here seems to really care, with the possible exception of Richard Roxburgh as Dracula. Hugh Jackman jokes lurks around the place waiting for the next Tonys or X-Men film to roll around; and Kate Beckinsale looks ravishing, but her attempt at a Romanian accent has all the effort of Joe Piscapo in a Merchant-Ivory production. Where The Mummy films at least had actors who enjoyed themselves, the boredom of the audience is completely reflected on the screen. Itís a sad day when I prefer Rachel Weisz and Brendan Fraser over Jackman and Beckinsale, though poor comparisons are par for the course with this film. Steven Sommers is no James Whale or Todd Browning, and Van Helsing doesnít even measure up to The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, much less the films it cribs from

©2004, David Perry,, 7 May 2004