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I Bet You Didn't See... Van Helsing

Contains Spoilers!!!

Bad-ass Hugh. What's not to love?

If you love films that over-the-top, ridiculous, fun, and easy to pick out errors that you actually don’t care about, but they make you laugh, Van Helsing is the film for you. It is a horror film, but it’s not too graphic. There are a few that are a bit nasty, but it shouldn’t be too bad. It’s rated ‘15’ because of those, although the level of CGI is not going to let them give you nightmares.

So, we all know who Van Helsing is. He is the Vampire hunter from Bram Stoker’s Dracula novel from 1897. He was known as Abraham in the original, and throughout cinema history, different first names have been attributed to the various Van Helsings. Hugh Jackman’s Van Helsing is Gabriel, probably changed to be a reference to the Angel Gabriel, as he is hired by an order of religious men to fight supernatural evils.

The film sees Van Helsing head off to Transylvania to help the last surviving Valerious family to fight off Dracula and get them into heaven, with the aid of a Friar called Carl (David Wenham). Van Helsing is seen as a murderer in the public eye, and so has a reputation going into Transylvania. He wins over the villagers and starts his journey.

Carl: “Oh, to hell and be damned I am.”
Van Helsing: “Carl, you just cursed! Not well mind you but you’re a Monk. You shouldn’t curse at all.”
Carl: “Actually, I’m just a friar so I can curse all I like… dammit!”
How does his Dentist feel?

Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) is hunting Doctor Frankenstein’s ‘monster’, who was created for a need of Dracula’s that is held secret until later in the film. Van Helsing goes on to try and help ‘the creature’, before his final confrontation with the Count. In among all this, we have the added storyline of Werewolves. It’s a culmination of all the classic Victorian gothic literature and European folklore.

Velkan: “I would rather die than help you.”
Dracula: “Oh, don’t be boring. Everyone who says that dies.”
Frankenstein's Monster defied physics in more ways than one!

Van Helsing doubled it’s budget in the box office, although it has the appearance of a low-budget film. While the costumes and sets are very good, there are a few issues with regards to acrobatics, height and physics. These are fun though. So firstly, our leading lady, Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) appears to be indestructible and incredibly acrobatic. These are unrealistic features that we get in a lot of films. Secondly, there is an issue with height in the movie. At two points, characters leap off towers, swing across a big gap and crash, conveniently, into a useful place to keep the story going. When you look it over, you realise that they would never had reached that point in reality! The best one if Frankenstein’s Monster swinging down from a tower, getting caught on a bridge, and then swinging free into a window. Anna then swings from the same alleged window past the same bridge… My partner and I laugh quite joyfully at that!

Just another reason for some people to see this film...

These inconsistencies do not take away from the film. In fact, I would argue it adds to the fun. Another Halloween favourite, a good one for a family night it (perhaps earlier in the day for any younger kids) and Hugh Jackman is superb, as always!

Directed by: Stephen Sommers

Screenplay by: Stephen Sommers

Based on: Dracula by Bram Stoker and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, David Wenham, Richard Roxburgh

Released: May 7, 2004

My Rating: 8/10

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