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Van Helsing

Van Helsing is one monster mess of a movie. Trying to pit fiendish foes such as Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man against antihero Van Helsing creates too many elements and ultimately not enough story to make any sense whatsoever.


In the late 19th century, Dr. Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), a misunderstood monster hunter, is summoned to Transylvania to ferret out Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) and kill him once and for all. When Van Helsing gets to the small village where the vampire was last spotted, he discovers he also must contend with Dracula's three seriously twisted vampire brides, Dracula's angry henchman/werewolf--and a lovely gypsy princess named Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale), who is hell-bent on eradicating Dracula and his bloodsucking kind for slaughtering her entire family. Oh, and let's not forget Frankenstein's Monster (Shuler Hensley), who holds the key to Dracula's evil master plan--something about releasing his minions of unborn, bat-like children from their goo-filled cocoons so they can wreck havoc on the world. Yuck. Sounds like our resident monster stomper and his sword-swinging gal pal have their work cut out for them. If Van Helsing does manage to kill all his monster foes, does that mean he's out of a job?


Jackman has the whole antihero thing down pat. He adequately embodies the younger, more virile Van Helsing, dishing out as much pain and torture as he can on the undead--but the Aussie actor isn't given nearly as much meat to chew on, as he did, say, delving into the complicated Wolverine in X-Men. Instead, the monster hunter is relegated to carrying big weapons, wearing a big hat and muttering something about having bad dreams to a past he can't remember. Same goes for Beckinsale. The British actress was oh-so-cool on the other side of the fence playing the chic vampire Selene in Underworld, cutting her way through a myriad of werewolves. As Van Helsing's heavily accented female counterpart Anna, however, she just runs around with her sword blurting out such pathetic dialogue such as, ''Dracula took everything away from me and now I'm alone in the world'' while Roxburgh's Dracula--who can't hold a candle to other, far more charismatic Draculas before him--wails about being so very alone as his luscious brides hang upside down in front of him. Give me a break. At least Australian actor David Wenham (The Lord of the Rings) provides much-needed comic relief as Van Helsing's sidekick Carl, a Catholic friar who doesn't much like playing hero.


With the requisite dark mood and tone, action sequences and snazzy CGI-creations, including the winged vampire brides and formidable werewolves, you can see exactly where writer/director Stephen Sommers (The Mummy) spent Van Helsing's nearly $150 million budget. But even all the bells and whistles can't tie together the film's vacuous, nonsensical mumbo jumbo, as Sommers attempts to bring classic movie monsters together in the same movie. Maybe in a tongue-in-cheek Abbott and Costello movie it could work, but as a serious, action-packed thriller, clearly Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man do not need to meet. On top of that, Sommers steals from other movies as well, such as recent films Underworld (the whole vampire vs. werewolf conflict) and The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (Van Helsing defeats a rather familiar-looking Mr. Hyde at one point). Whatever originality there is in the film leaves you either scratching your head--Dracula has kids?--or rolling your eyes--Anna needs to kill Dracula so her nine-generations of family can reunite in Heaven? Please.

Bottom Line

For the love of all that's unholy, drive a wooden stake, shoot a silver bullet, do whatever it takes to put Van Helsing out of its misery.