Van Helsing

Sunday 31st October 20046:00 PM, 9:00 PM

After the rather wet fish of ‘LXG’, you’d think the studios would know better to produce another Steam Punk SFX/CGI- laden smash-fest? Well, apparently someone felt like taking a chance, because along came a film about a man who happens to be called Van Helsing (a huge relief for the people who designed the title), who kicks undead butt for a living. Cue Aussie totty Hugh Jackman in long flowing hair and long, flowing trench coat, fitted out with some outrageously cool equipment that would make James Bond green with envy. The plot is simple, but tries to make itself more complex with a few side issues, but concentrating on the main threads; Van Helsing works for a rather more pro-active arm of the Church in the eradication of evil in all its forms. He is teamed up with a Q-like monk-boffin called Karl who will supply him with good ideas, witty one-liners, equipment and hair-dressing duties in the field (ok, so maybe not the latter, but given the shininess of VH’s hair, you have to wonder who sponsoring his coiffure). They are sent to Transylvania to suppress an uprising of vampire activity. Meanwhile, Count Dracula (a very suave reincarnation, this one, with really cool I-Can-Walk-On-The-Ceiling-And-I-Will-Just-Cos-I-Can powers) has been dealing with a certain Dr Frankenstein for his creation, but who is lost in the burning-and-pitchforks rebellion of the local peasants. So Draccy is on the move with his three lovely Brides Of…, forming his own plans and plots, and things that involve squeaky, slimy bat-babies from hell… There is also a complication with the local Wolfman and sturdy love interest in the form of Anna, who has more lives than a cat and bones of titanium for all the dropping-from-a-height and throwing-about she undergoes. VH himself is a ‘mystery man’, with no memory of his past and an apparently amazing cat-like ability to bounce back and keep on fighting… both areas Jackman has worked on before in the ‘X Men’ films. He keeps his tongue firmly in his cheek this time, however, wallowing in the macho nonsense and gravel-voiced character with undisguised relish. His strong central performance in fact makes the whole thing a great deal more enjoyable than it could have been, and rescuing it from being a complete waste of effort.

The film explodes into action as VH takes on all comers in series of what are normally described as ‘high octane action sequences.’ Yes, you’ve guessed it, this one’s a no-brainer, but it’s a fun no-brainer that never tries to take itself absolutely seriously. You can see the camp twinkle in everyone’s eyes, and the sheer delight of being bad that Draccy exudes in his wonderfully hammy, fist-waving, cloak-twitching way is highly enjoyable all on its own. Don’t go expecting a treatise on human rights, but do go expecting some beautiful people in beautifully put-together fight scenes producing wild, popcorn-munching fun, and plenty of visceral thrills.

Genre:

Action, Adventure, Horror, Fantasy, Thriller

Director:

Stephen Sommers

Writer:

Stephen Sommers

Leads:

Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Shuler Hensley

Music:

Alan Silvestri

Length:

131 minutes

Year:

2004

Country:

USA

Language:

English, Latin

12A

These pages copyright Union Films, 2001-2017. All views expressed in these pages are those of Union Films, and are not necessarily those of the University Of Southampton, or the Students' Union. All logos and trademarks are property of their respective organisations.

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