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3.9 out of 5 stars287
3.9 out of 5 stars
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"Van Helsing" is a kitchen sink monster movie, so it is a question of how far it can go before things fall apart, which for me was pretty far. The best part of writer-director Stephen Sommers' film is arguably the prologue, done in glorious black & white as a wonderful homage to the Universal monster pictures of yesterday. In Transylvania the torch bearing peasants are storming Castle Frankenstein, where the Victor (Samuel West) has just brought his creation (Shuler Hensley) to life and is screaming, "It's alive! Alive! Alive!," the words immortalizing by Colin Clive back in 1931's "Frankenstein." However, there is a twist in that Dr. Frankenstein is working with Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh), who is after the secret of creating life for his own purposes. Events take their tragic course and then we pick up the story a year later in color with the title character (Hugh Jackman) in Paris on the trail of the Hunchback of Notre Dame (who actually turns out to be a different literary monster).
To be clear, this is not Abraham Van Helsing, the wise doctor of Bram Stoker's "Dracula" novel, but a mysterious monster killer whose first name turns out to be Gabriel. I would say that he is decked out like Solomon Kane, but that has nothing to do with any of the Universal monster movies. He is dispatched by a secret organization in the Vatican to go to Transylvania and kill Dracula. Not just because the count is an evil vampire, but because the noble house of Valerious has been fighting Dracula for several hundred years and the entire family can only go directly to heaven, passing purgatory or worse, if they kill the vampire before he wipes out their family, which is now down to Prince Velkan (Will Kemp) and Princess Anna (Kate Beckinsale).
Apparently Dracula knows about the deal as well because when Van Helsing gets to Transylvania the vampire launches an attack with his three brides, Aleera (Elena Anaya), Verona (Silvia Colloca), and Marishka (Josie Maran). Fortunately, Van Helsing has a new sidekick, Carl (David Wenham), a friar who is clearly the Vatican equivalent of James Bonds' Q. Carl main creation is basically a mechanical crossbow that shoots like a machine gun. However, technology is of limited value when you are dealing with monsters.
Sommers plays with the rules of his monsters a little bit. This time around werewolves do not sprout hair but rather claw off their skin to reveal their fur (and visa versa), which I found rather effective. The Frankenstein monster has a touch of the industrial revolution about him and is one of the more human characters in the film. As for Dracula, it seems that driving a stake through his heart or shoving a cross in his fangs no longer has much effect and our hero has to discover exactly what you have to do to this particular vampire to get him to bite the dust.
In the end there are two flaws that undercut the effectiveness of this film. The first has to do with the new werewolf rules, because I am still not sure when you turn into a werewolf and the whole transformation bit ends up speeding up to meet the demands of the plot. The second is the idea that Van Helsing and Anna are too busy trying to be superheroes (or Tarzan), swinging around on cables and such. There so much swinging on such things, over enormous distances, that the idea is done to death and just becomes a sort of running joke. Add to this that at the end Sommers tries to over a transcendent grace note that is rather lame. Fortunately the end credits are pretty cool, so you can still leave the theater having good thoughts about "Van Helsing."
I was not grossly offended by this film as are some aficionados of the classic Universal Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man films have admitted to being. For throwing three major characters into the mix "Van Helsing" does a good job of making the pieces fit overall and providing a nice summertime roller coaster ride. The attempt to build chemistry between the hero and the heroine us really nothing more than an attempt to put off their kiss as long as possible and the mystery as to what Van Helsing cannot remember anything about his past is also a minor matter. This movie is about monsters fighting monsters and on that part the film delivers with the volume turned all the way up.
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Most people who buy this blu-ray will do so as an upgrade to the dvd especially as it has been on the television recently and if you like the movie it's a worthwhile upgrade. Picture quality is excellent and is presented full screen and the DTS-HD Master audio soundtrack fills your room with sound and music. Extras are very much the same as the dvd release with the addition of a 20 minute feature on the masked ball scene which is well worth watching. Most of the story is set in the dark and this benefits from the blu-ray transfer as everything is so much clearer.
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on 16 December 2011
I don't realise why this film got so many negative reviews; it's not an awful movie. Story was okay, along with the acting, but it wasn't horrible. Picture and audio quality was superb for a 2003 film, and buying it on Blu-ray was worth it.

Would recommend!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 21 June 2009
Ok the story line isn't going to tax anybody with just the single brain cell. But lets not forget its not there to be cerebrally challenging . Its pop corn for the brain and you know what it does it very well. However Im not here to discuss the script but rather the Blue Ray version.

Well, as Blue Ray releases go, I have to admit this is one of the better ones. Colours, clarity are spot on. In fact having watched this on TV the other week the Blue Ray version is much better. Watching the title character riding across the snow capped mountains near the start of the film is something else, but the scene in the Romanian town centre halfway through the female vampire attack when the sun comes out really differentiates Blue Ray from normal DVD. Somebody else has already mentioned the Ball scene, but its worth just seeing that for how all the different colours are allowed to explode into view. . The rest of the film displays just as much as the few samples I mentioned above. Its also good to see that the same amount of attention has been paid to the sound.

While I'm not one for extras there is a picture in picture mode which brings up a small screen showing the same as the main picture but from the view of the camera man and a few other snippets.(As i said I'm not one for extras)

As I said one of the better Blue Ray releases

Panasonic TX-32LZD80 - 32" Widescreen
Sony BDPS350 Blu-Ray Disc Player
Yamaha HTY750 Digital Sound Projector
Yamaha YSTFSW100-BLACK 75 Watt Slimline Active Subwoofer
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on 29 June 2011
This movie is one of the best i have ever seen. Forget what the negative reviewers say this is a blast from beginning to end.
The director of the Mummy and The Mummy Returns delivers a top notch action adventure that makes you want to be Van Helsing and battle vampires and werewolves. Hugh Jackman is perfect as Van Helsing and Kate Beckinsale equally as perfect as Anna, other performances such as Richard Roxborough's Dracula and David Wenham as Carl.
The story is interesting and the action scenes are amazing, some of the stunts are brilliant and the special effects are very cool. If you like vampire, werewolf, frankenstein films then this is definitely one to consider buying.
Please do NOT listen to those who slate this film because it is action packed, funny, exciting, thrilling, amazing, awesome, cool (i can't think of any more adjectives) just buy it and enjoy.
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VINE VOICEon 2 October 2004
Brilliant film, which has fantastic special effects. Fair enough the bloke playing Dracula was a little unconvincing but hey Im a Buffy/Angel fan so I have my own view on what vampires are like now due to those shows, the werewolf and Frankinstein Monster were very very good and Kate Beckingsale and Hugh Jackman acted very well together in this film and had very good chemisty. Definately a MUST HAVE for the DVD collection.
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The critics tore the film to pieces, but my family thought it was brilliant, so I thought I would have a look and make up my own mind.
What I found was that I enjoyed the film up to a point, that point being at about the hour mark. After that the coincidences just got too much for me. For example, when Frankenstein's monster swings on an unfeasibly long rope and smashes through one of hundreds of windows in the castle, it just happens to be the window of the room where a crucial fight is occuring. Also, the internal logic of the film seemed to unravel a bit, and the sub-plot device of Van Helsing's history and missing memory intruded too much.
It has to said, though, that the sets and special effects all the way through are amazing, with some of the best human/werewolf transitions ever seen. The best CGI effect, in my opinion, was near the beginning where Mr Hyde (voiced by Robbie Coltrane) and Van Helsing fought in Notre Dame cathedral. The carriage chase was also a stunning set piece, even if the jump was as ridiculous as the one in Speed.
The disc itself is a good one. The main feature has a clear picture (essential when much of the film is quite dark) and unobtrusive surround sound. The extras are also of a high quality. Aside from two commentaries, one from the director and producer and one from several of the actors, there is a better-than-average feature on the special effects, a compilation of 'bloopers', a tour of Dracula's castle, information about the characters from the classic Universal horror films and a feature called "You are in the movie". This last feature shows some scenes with footage shot from extra cameras fixed on the set or attached to the main camera, and gives an interesting view of the film-making process. There is also an option to view the film and jump into this mode when a special icon appears on the screen.
There are some amusing touches in the film. The scene where Van Helsing is equiped for his mission in the Vatican's 19th Century equivalent of James Bond's department Q is a nice touch. When Mr Hyde smashes into the bell in Notre Dame and comes out wit Quasimodo's catchphrase is another. I was just dissapointed that the second half of the film was not as entertaining as the first.
Even though I tired of the story, I may well watch this again to gawp at the effects or listen to the commentary so it can't be all bad - more like a missed opportunity to make a classic film.
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on 30 May 2015
With strong visual Van Helsing challenges accepted ideas about two very prominent characters in the world of monsters.

The film does a good job of proposing a purpose for the creation of the Frankenstein monster which goes beyond satisfying the ambitions of a clever scientist to prove that he is equal to God in making life. There is room for extending compassion to the Frankenstein monster when Van Helsing, the monster hunter permits him to live because he recognises goodness in the monster even though he was created to serve evil.

Instrumental music is used to great effect to depict various moods and atmospheres ranging from ominous as Van Helsing takes down Mr Hyde in Paris to dramatic in Vatican City - Rome where Van Helsing meets with a secret organisation who instruct him to go to Transylvania and hunt down Count Dracula. In Transylvania we go from heroic instrumental music to present Princess Anna as she arrives to saves her brother from the clutches of the Warewolf to sentimental instrumental music when Van Helsing and Princess Anna share a special moment.

Van Helsing goes in hunt of the Dracula but four hundred years on the Count has grown immune to the usual vampire-killing weaponry known to man. He readily pulls a silver steak out from his chest and a silver crucifix melts in his hands. At this stage one begins to wonder what weapon will bring about this creature’s demise.

Igor is played by Kevin James O'Connor who has the quality of arousing a range of contradictory emotions in the viewer sometimes simultaneously and sometimes consecutively for the character he is playing. As Igor he endears the viewer to the character and skilfully induces repulsion, amusement and exasperation in equal measure, then finally sadness when he dies as he must.

This is an entertaining film that holds the attention from beginning to end.
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on 16 May 2015
Van Helsing finds a land still mired in past, where legendary creatures of darkness come to life. A place ruled over by the evil, seductive and unbeatable vampire, Count Dracula.

It is Dracula that Van Helsing has been sent to terminate. Anna Valerious is one of the last of a powerful royal family, now nearly annihilated by Dracula.

A fearless hunter in her own right, Anna is bent on avenging her ancestors and ending an ancient curse by killing the vampire. Joined by a common foe, Van Helsing and Anna set out to destroy Dracula along with his empire of fear.

But in challenging an enemy who never dies, Van Helsing uncovers a secret he never imagined and comes face-to-face with the unresolved mysteries of his own enshrouded past....

Van Helsing, or how to shoot dead a potential franchise, promised so so much, and delivered so very little. With all that is going on and some reasonable special effects, it boggles the mind to discover that the film is quite boring.

Only Jackman puts in a worthy performance as the titular character, Beckinsale is just eye candy, and the less said about Roxburgh, the better (since when did Dracula become a new romantic?).

This film suffers from the same syndrome Spiderman 3 and Schumachers Batmans suffered from, too many villains, and too much going on. There is a story going on somewhere, But Sommers goes down the CGI route too often, and relies on Jackman to put in a semi Wolverine part every now and again.

But it has it's moments, The first twenty minutes are amazing, and really get the film going, but it all goes downhill rapidly from there. If the film didn't take itself so seriously, and was more tongue in cheek (there is humour, but not enough) it would have been an amazing film.

but instead of amazing, it just happens, and then it's over.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 January 2014
`Van Helsing' has always been a bit of an enigma to me. I own it and have watched it every so often and I can never quite put my finger on what exactly is wrong with it. Obviously, I quite like it, but it always leaves me with the feeling that it should have - somehow - been so much better.

The film was practically made for me - I love Hugh Jackman and he makes a great `monster hunter.' Kate Beckinsale is naturally sexy as his kick-a$$ love interest. David Wenham adds some comic relief as Van Helsing and Richard Roxborough is brilliantly campy as Count Dracula. Then there are more monsters crammed into this film than Jabba the Hutt's palace. What more could I want?

Um, I don't exactly know, but I'm not alone in my confusion. Van Helsing was supposed to be the start of some sort of action/horror franchise. It was certainly given the budget and star-power to launch such a venture. However, it was - almost - a financial flop. It was sort of successful, but not enough to get a proper sequel (there is a lower budget animated one, but that wasn't the original intention).

Perhaps it's the overuse of CGI? Sometimes everything on screen starts to blur into one mass of animation. Perhaps it's that the characters are a little too indestructible to be believable. Seriously... these (supposedly totally human) characters get dropped from great heights again and again and just get up like nothing has happened - a minor gripe, but it always bugged me.

If you're a fan of `old school' horror, i.e. you know about the Dracula/Frankenstein myths then you might like this, because it certainly pays homage to the classics. It has a lot of charm (kudos to Frankenstein's monster and Drac himself), but somehow falls slightly short of being the modern day classic it was meant to be.
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