Van Helsing (2004)

van helsing poster 2004 movie review hugh jackman
4.0 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 4/10

Love Universal Monsters

Tons of bad computer generated characters, weak story, too long

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Van Helsing

Studio:  Universal Pictures

Genre(s):  Horror/Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Release Date(s):  May 7, 2004

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

van helsing crossbow hugh jackman

So much tech…such inability to use it…

Amnesiac Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) finds himself as a secret agent of the Church who is sent to deal with problems that the Church cannot address directly like vampires and monsters.  Sent after Dracula (Richard Roxburgh), Van Helsing and his partner Carl (David Wenham) find themselves with Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) whose family has battled Dracula for centuries.  Dracula with his brides (Elena Anaya, Silvia Colloca, and Josie Maran) have made a family and need the secret of Frankenstein’s Monster (Shuler Hensley) to bring their children to life.  With a werewolf (Will Kemp) on their side, Dracula’s battle is great…but Van Helsing finds himself with a few secret weapons of his own.

Written and directed by Stephen Sommers, Van Helsing is an action-adventure monster movie.  The film was released to mostly negative reviews but was a box office success.

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I went into Van Helsing with high hopes.  I love classic Universal Monsters and I feel the writer has love for the characters too…but it takes a bit more than love to make a satisfying movie.

The story is a big chunk of what caused the downfall for this film to me.  Like House of Dracula and House of Frankenstein movies, it can be tricky to get all the players in place and still have time to tell a story.  Unfortunately, Van Helsing takes all the time they want (too much), brings the characters together, and spends the last chunk of the film with them swinging on ropes that go exactly where they need to go to continue the story…so much rope swinging.  The story is generic and uninspired and with the PG-13 limitations, it feels like it is desperately trying to be popular.

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CGI to the max!

The cast is burdened with a ton of cheesy dialogue and moments that are supposed to be heart-pounding.  With all the actors undergoing a ton of computer generated moments from Kate Beckinsale falling out of a tree to Hugh Jackman leaping gorges with horses, the characters feel they have no real substance (but they are good enough actors to deliver the bad dialogue with a straight face).

The actors and the story have no chance with the special effects.  Things have come a long way since 2004, but you have to consider that movies like The Matrix and even The Mummy were made before this film that looks cheap.  The CGI is bad and overused throughout the movie.  A cartoon would have come off better.

Van Helsing isn’t a good film, but it is more of a disappointment because it at least could have been a fun film.  With a runtime of over two hours, the movie plods along and induces yawns instead of chills.  With the financial success of the movie, I’m surprised we weren’t subjected to sequel after sequel…but that might have been better than this film.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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