Bram Stoker's original literary Van Helsing
dispatched his nemeses of the night with just a crucifix, a few simple wooden stakes, and a dash of garlic. But this CGI-driven, 21st-century Hollywood take on the vampire hunter is bigger, bolder and, judging from veteran Alan Silvestri's thunderous goth-on-steroids orchestral score, definitely more bombastic. Courtesy of director/big-budget monster revivalist Stephen Sommers (The Mummy
, Mummy Returns
, The Scorpion King
), Hugh Jackman's title character now faces off against Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, a giant werewolf, and Mr Hyde.
With an appropriate lack of subtlety, Silvestri seasons the action-set pieces with some gloomy, Herrmann-esque brass, jolting doses of massed percussion, the occasional shrieking choral homage to Carmina Burana--and (for some ears) precious too little of Franz Waxman's haunting, neo-Romantic horror-film lyricism. But then, overwrought popcorn epics call for overwrought popcorn scores, and the bold, epic scale of Silvestri's music can't be denied; it has as much alternately jolting/nervous energy as a double-dose of caffeine. Enhanced CD features include an interactive game trailer, gameplaying clues, a photo gallery and preview of a comic book merchandising tie-in. --Jerry McCulley, Amazon.com