Where can you find Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Dracula, Frankenstein & his Monster, and werewolves all in one place? No, I’m not talking about your local haunted house. No, not your neighbor’s annual Halloween party that they throw either. And, I’m not talking about Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. (Good guess, though – I love that movie!)
I’m talking about Van Helsing which stars the ever-yummy Hugh Jackman (Wolverine).
So why am I writing about this in SciFi/ Fantasy instead of over in Horror? Well, although it has all of our classic monsters in it, there is just nothing really scary about this film. It is pure fantasy, though.
This film re-imagines all of the classic horror films (and often the books they were created from). It also throws in some plot devices (well maybe not plot, more like “Oh cool” devices) from about a dozen other movies. You will be particularly able to see a resemblance between Van Helsing’s assistant, Carl (David Wenham) and Q from the James Bond movies.
If you are looking for a deep movie with lots of angst and high morals that will leave you wondering what the meaning of life is – go rent something else. This movie is just fun; bloody, gross at times, exciting, fast-paced, and fun. The plot doesn’t even make a great deal of sense – you just kind of have to sit there and nod your head and go “ok, I get that” and then enjoy watching Hugh Jackman rescue Kate Beckinsale (Underworld) or vice-versa, this is one chica that can and does defend herself!
The movie is basically this: Van Helsing is a man who cannot remember his past. He is taken in by the Catholic Church, which secretly hunts down the monsters of the night. Van Helsing becomes their greatest champion in this crusade. Yet he feels a great guilt about this for as he says, “To you these…monsters are just evil beings to be vanquished. I’m the one left standing there when they die and become the men they once were.” For upon death the evil is driven from this world, and all is left is the shell of the man that hosted it.
Yet, the church has a new assignment for Van Helsing, one where he gets to meet true evil – Dracula. He is sent to Transylvania to assist the last remaining descendants of a family sworn to drive Dracula from the earth or never enter into heaven themselves; Velkan & Anna Valerius. Unbeknownst to Van Helsing or the Church, Velkan has already fallen prey to Dracula’s slave werewolf and so is cursed. Anna (played by Beckinsale) is all that is left of the Valerius line.
As Van Helsing, Carl and Anna work to find a way to destroy Dracula and keep Anna safe they stumble upon a terrible, yet incredible secret – Frankenstein’s creation. They learn an important lesson; all is not as it seems.
Anna Valerious: Oh, my God! The Frankenstein Monster!
Frankenstein's Monster: Monster! Who's the monster here? I have done nothing wrong, yet you and your kind still wish me dead!
The creature was built, it turns out, not for the sake of a madman (only) but to help continue the line of Dracula – to bring his children of the night to life. But the creature has other ideas, and has allowed himself believed to be dead – hiding out in a damp cave underground. Unfortunately Van Helsing brings him into the light and gives Dracula back the hope of continuing with his gruesome plan.
We learn of an ages old battle between Dracula and Van Helsing. Of how monsters can hide behind beauty, and beauty can hide behind monstrosity. We learn the value of courage and friendship.
But most of all we just have a good time.
Van Helsing is rated PG-13 for nonstop creature action violence and frightening images, and for sensuality. The violence is pretty graphic, and we are talking about monsters here. My 16 year old daughter did not want to watch it with us, because she is prone to nightmares – and the scene with all the little hatchling vampires was one that would probably not have helped her to sleep that night. My 21 year old son loved it. We did not give the 10 year old a choice.
I rented this video with my own funds.