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Thread: Van Helsing????

  1. #1
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
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    Nov 2003
    Troy, New York

    Red face Van Helsing????

    Watched it last night and found it a resounding "eh". Neither fish nor fowl if you get my drift. Some of the CGI stuff was pretty good but nothing to write home to mum about. Didn't like vampires and werewolves running around in the daylight but I did like the treatment of the Frankenstein monster as well as the non-happy ending. I thought the idea of "The Order" secretly working with other religions to fight evil was a marvelous thing and something we could definately use more of in this world right now...

    Da Worfster

  2. #2
    Forum Regular
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    May 2003

    "eh" is correct

    The special effects in "Van Helsing" tended to involve a limited color palette. There was no "mixing things up" - somebody seemed to think that a grey-blue color would produce a horror effect. There was something else, too, that I can not quite put my finger on, but I know that I could not connect with the characters emotionally. I didn't even care when the "heroine" was killed - ho, hum... I had the same reaction with the last Alien movie, and with "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen". I did not care if they lived or died, maybe because they were mostly freaks or monsters themselves.

    You know what really "got me right there" lately? I watched the Johnny Cash music video of his last song. I do not remember the title, but knowing that he had passed on, and seeing him close the piano keyboard lid and softly stroke the top just about brought me to tears. It was like he was closing his own coffin...


  3. #3
    Resident DVD Reviewer
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    Apr 2002

    A Personal "Van Helsing" Review (Universal)

    Okay, lets get this one out of the way and get the comments rolling because it was one of the biggest DVD release await days on the 19th, when the DVD version of the long anticipated "Van Helsing" hit shelves. I saw this Stephen Sommers Mummy-like flick in theaters this past May, and it impressed me --- dont ask me why, but I enjoyed it better than this past summer's The Day After Tomorrow; the CGI was wildly cool, the creature transformations from human to werewolves were outrageous and shocking and then there was Kate Beckensale with her gorgeous breasts almost hanging out of that bustle....oh my god is she hot....

    But I digress....I know many, many Universal monster film fans cried foul when Sommers (now known for his campy remake of The Mummy with Brendan Fraser) decided to get Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, and the Wolfman all together in one film with one wasnt going to be easy to do, especially since he also planned on adding to the mix Van Helsing, the man that hunted I believe it was vampires expertly, but now was up against all three of these legendary creatures. And so the plot for this over the top CGI fest became this: Van Helsing, after battling it out in a somewhat ludicrous scene with Doctor Jeckle/Mr Hyde in the beginning (the CGI used for the Mr Hyde creation looked silly and completely unconvincing; when was Hyde ever a fat, babbling drunk, unless I missed something?), is re-assigned by his leaders in the Vatican to Transylvania, where Count Dracula must be stopped from killing Kate Beckensale's character's only remaining family; the only problem is Beckensale's brother is already the Wolfman, and working under the powers of Dracula. Dracula has the Wolf do his dirty work for him, while the lord of the undead has some plans of his own.....the Count wants to use the energy from Frankenstein's monster to bring life into the thousands of unborn babies he has had with his brides. To say Van Helsing has a lot in front of him would be an understatement.

    While the plot seems ridiculously far fetched in order to get these three monsters onscreen together, it actually plays better once it goes on; there are great fight sequences between Hugh Jackman (playing Van Helsing expertly in my opinion) and Dracula and the Wolfman; as I said, the effects during the Wolfman's transformation were wicked. Something I havent seen since An American Werewolf in London. There is also a plot twist at the end, which I wont give away, revolving around Van Helsing's discovery of how to get rid of Dracula on his own.

    There is also a bit of dissapointment with the Frankenstein character; in this film, he is a walking and talking beast with a heart of gold, and we sympathize with him, looking past the fact that he is, essentially, a monster too. The makers figured they'd go soft on Frankenstein after putting so much violence and evil into the Dracula and Wolfman characters.

    The acting, though, was atrocious; Beckensale is just terrible in her lead, even if she is one of the most drop dead gorgeous things ever to make us stop thinking about or wives or girlfriends. Her conversations with Dracula's brides (very, very hot themselves once they dont show their teeth or flap their frightening wings) are just painful to sit through, especially with all their forced Transylvania accents. The effects for Dracula looked okay here, giving him the Euro-trash know, long black hair tied in a pony tail, suave ladies man demeanor...what Dracula was supposed to be about. But Jackman seems born to play the role of Van Helsing: cool, controlled, mysterious under the big black hat....I wont say his acting was wonderful, because it, too, wasnt, but it certainly was a larger highlight of the cast.

    There is also a scene where Jackman goes back to Rome to be re-assigned by the Vatican for his battle with Dracula, and it seems to be a scene everyone on the internet is talking about; he is being shown all the various weapons he will be given to battle the Count, and it reminds people very much of the scenes in the James Bond films when "Q" is showing Bond the new weapons and cars. It gave to the film some comic relief, although much like "Pirates Of The Caribbean," there is a theme of comedy running throughout the seriousness of the screenplay in Van Helsing; something casusal viewers may not pick up on the first time, or the first few times --- or in fact they may. This doesnt take away from the fact that its still a pretty violent, action packed CGI fest from Sommers and his Universal Pictures arsenal he dipped into for The Mummy, too.

    Spread over one disc at 2 hours and 15 minutes, and including lots of extras like (thank god this time) two trailers, the version of Van Helsing I picked up at WalMart was framed at 1:33:1 full screen and it looked absolutely beautiful. No compression artifacts. No bleeding. No video noise. No grain to speak of. Great transfer from Universal. There is also a three-disc Ultimate Edition I believe its called floating around out there for sale, but this would be for diehard fans of the Universal classic monster films that come on a third disc in that set; this one discer is enough for casual fans, like me, who want the visual and audio treats Van Helsing had to offer. I really had no complaints about the video, without going into specifics of the color timing, etc. The very opening scene in Van Helsing is shot in black and white, paying homage to the black and white monster movies that inspired this film, and it looks wonderful. Good job, Universal. Im sure the widescreen version looks just as great.

    Believe it or not --- and I am JUST as dissapointed as you are reading these words --- this film just didnt play back as dynamically or as loud and aggressive on DVD as it did when I saw it in the theaters. I dont know what Universal did with the Dolby Digital 5.1 sound mix on this disc, but when watching the film, MOST of the audio is dont get me wrong, it DOES sound, a bit enveloping, and seems to be encoded at a good Dolby Digital bitrate; but for a film like this, there were MANY missed surround opportunities. Whenever Jackman is firing his poison arrow gun at Dracula's brides or even at the Wolfman, all the audio rips from the front soundstage; there are no bullets that really make it into the surrounds. Most of the surround work comes when Dracula's brides are flying around, or when some mild score is playing. Now, whats dissapointing is that I remember seeing this in a local theater when it came out this past May, and this movie was was rattling us out of our seats, and I can specifically remember saying to my girlfriend and then thinking to myself "wow.....this is gonna sound AWESOME on DVD.....I cant wait...."

    Well, Universal didnt put a DTS track on this, but I dont think that is the problem....when the DVD first starts, you get the impression, when your surround system kicks on, that the disc didnt really need DTS....the Dolby track seems rich enough for the material, honest.....but as I said, there is very, very conservative, lean usage of the surround channels on this DVD, and that was dissapointing. Van Helsing and Dawn of the Dead remake were my two most anticipated DVD purchases this fall, and I am dissapointed to say that the audio on Van Helsing didnt have me ducking for cover or ****ting in my pants because I thought bullets were going to hit me, as was the experience I had with Saving Private Ryan's DTS mix. I dont know why the mix on Van Helsing seemed too front-heavy to me, but if others have different experiences or did not find these results so, please comment.

  4. #4
    Kam is offline
    filet - o - fish Kam's Avatar
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    Dec 2001
    New York, NY

    sucked like dracula

    saw it in the theaters when it came out and was rather dissapointed. the accents were ridiculous and i had no idea why they even bothered? in an age where connery can play a british secret service agent, a russian general, an american author, a spanish conquistador, and every other ethnicity imaginable with the same scottish accent, and everyone is fine with it, why bother doin bad accents to cover? so kate would have had a british accent as a translyvanian? woop-de-freakin-do. amadeus won tons of oscars without a single correct character/ethnicity/accent match, that i can remember. mozart souded oddly american for a german, and salieri sounded oddly british for an italian.

    so aside from that annoying point in van helsing, there just wasn't anything new, orginal, or even fun about the movie. i agree the frankenstein monster was kinda cool, but everyone else kinda sucked. dracula was very weak as were nearly every other character. the action was preposterous, as action often is, but without any care for ANYTHING, i wasn't willing to forgive stupid action. when i like the characters, i dont mind stupid action, because the story and characters are fun. here... eh, very cardboard and zero-dimensional. as they advertised before, it was a rollercoaster of action. well... i've been on rollercoasters before, gonna have to try a lil harder than that. Like The Hulk at Universal theme park, now THAT was a rollercoaster and did something new that i had never seen on a rollercoaster before. not sure if its still there or if other 'coasters are doing it now, but sure as tarnation surprised me!

    go 'canes!

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