Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Will Kemp
Director: Stephen Sommers
Release Date: 7 May 2004
Length: 131 minutes
Movie Rating: PG-13
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars
“In a plot inspired by the writings of Bram Stoker, vampire hunter extraordinaire Dr. Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) travels to a mysterious region of Eastern Europe on a quest to vanquish the big three – Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh), the Wolf Man (Will Kemp) and Frankenstein’s Monster (Shuler Hensley). On hand is Van Helsing’s intrepid assistant, Anna (Kate Beckinsale), the heir to a family committed to hunting down and destroying the Count.” — Netflix.com
This is a great supernatural adventure action movie. I admit that the special effects/creatures take a bit of getting used to as they still retain much of their comic book feel, but, once you have made the adjustment, you can see that they did some absolutely amazing things in this movie. The storyline is interesting, the special effects are well done, there are plenty of thrilling action sequences and the acting is really well done. It is unfortunate that this movie did not do as well as anticipated in the box office as that means we will never see a sequel, but I always have a good time pulling this movie out and watching it again – especially around Halloween time or on a dark night when you want to be a little scared.
Hugh Jackman was absolutely perfectly cast in this roll as Van Helsing. He is sexy, tough and funny at the same time. I love it when a hot guy can handle all of the bad guys with a bit of humor! I fall a little bit more in love with him each time I watch this movie. Kate Beckinsale is the perfect foil for Van Helsing’s more happy-go-lucky character as she is very serious about vampire hunting and doesn’t joke around very much. She looks beautiful in this movie and is stunning in all of her action sequences. David Wenham is hilarious as Van Helsing’s assistant. He is kind of like E on the James Bond movies as he has all of these cool gadgets and gizmos that he has created for vampire hunting, but has absolutely no field experiences – nor does he want any! He is pretty timid and scares easily and he has some of the funniest lines in the whole movie. A great addition to the film as he was able to bring a lot of comedy relief to what would otherwise have been a bit too serious for this tongue-in-cheek movie. Richard Roxburgh was great as Dracula and I thought his three wives (Elena Anaya, Silvia Colloca, and Josie Maran) were a bit over the top, but were able to add comedy to some pretty dark roles. Anyway, I just thought the whole cast was great.
The special effects were absolutely top notch and I could tell that they spent a lot of time and money on the creatures, the special effects and the action sequences. There was quite a bit of detail and the morphing between human and creature was particularly well done. The fighting and battle sequences were creative and they made very effective use of the sets to present these as unique and different. At the vampire ball, Van Helsing uses a chandelier and some other furnishings to escape. On the road, Van Helsing is all over the carriage – under, on top, on the side – and the horses in an effort to escape the vampire wives and the werewolf. The sets were also pretty amazing as the Vampire’s castle was a very interesting combination of ice and winter with a dark, scary castle. The town that the vampires terrorized was very classic and has an old-school Gothic vibe to it. And I loved the story line – so interesting! The writers used all of the classic monsters – Dracula, Frankenstein and the Werewolves – to create an intriguing and complex plot that keeps you guessing as to what is going to happen.
The scenes are well-shot with interesting camera angles used. The music adds a nice touch and the supporting characters really make this movie complete. I am sad to hear that this movie was not really well received as I love it and have fun watching it every time! I know that a lot of people did not like the ending, but, if you think about it, there were not a lot of options as to how to end this movie. Kudos to the writers for being willing to kill off main characters, too. If you have not seen this movie and like creature features or supernatural action movies, then you have to treat yourself and rent or buy this film!
This movie features a lot of fighting and killing of monsters and people. Van Helsing shoots, stabs, lights on fire, and kills monsters pretty much however he can. There is nothing overly gory or explicit, though. For the amount of violence in this movie, you would think that it would have earned an R rating, but I think that it was able to get the PG-13 rating by making most of the monsters and battle sequences feel more like a comic book than real events happening. Recommended for ages 13 and up.