VAN HELSING (2004)
Summary and commentary below by Cory Hanaway (2006).
Notes: 132 minutes.
Starring Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham
Directed: Stephen Sommers
Summary: Van Helsing is called to Transylvania to stop Dracula who has been terrorizing the countryside. Dracula is using werewolves to do his bidding and is searching for the Frankenstein monster to fulfill an evil plan to bring to life thousands of vampires that he and his three brides have bred. Van Helsing is joined by Anna, the last of a family that has been trying to stop Dracula for generations (except for her werewolf brother). Van Helsing travels to castle Dracula to confront Dracula, save the Frankenstein monster, and get a cure for a werewolf bite.
We get a smattering of different creatures in this movie. There are vampires, werewolves, the Frankenstein monster, and Mr. Hyde. Van Helsing is more like James Bond in this movie than the older professor who has all of the answers. Van Helsing uses anything and everything to kill these monsters when he finds them. His gas-powered crossbow fires bolts in rapid secession that he uses to try to kill vampires. He also uses a shotgun on his enemies. This is an attempt to modernize the character and bring in a wider audience.
Van Helsing’s own past is a subplot to the movie, he does not know who he is but knows that he must fight evil. Later on in the movie when he becomes a werewolf he fights and kills Dracula in hand-to-hand combat. Was this an attempt to say that only an evil creature can kill a greater evil? Or was it to say that there is some evil in all of us, even those who have spent their lives fighting evil?
This movie was a fun one to watch due to the action and gadgets used throughout, but as a monster movie there were too many different types of monsters all with different proposes and goals. Van Helsing was an odd character because he had lived too long to be a normal man, but then falls in love. Dracula could only be killed by a werewolf, but he kept them as pets to do his bidding. Van Helsing is Dracula’s doppelganger in the final fight with both monsters trying to kill the other one. At that point the movie turns from Van Helsing to Dracula vs. the wolfman.