Van Helsing is ridiculous on about seven different levels. For starters, there are no less than two horse drawn carriages that crash and explode in a giant ball of fire. But let me back up here. The movie starts out with a black and white intro which may lead you to believe you’ll be watching a drama. But the tone changes very rapidly from there. You’re introduced to the main character a few minutes later, when he kills Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by throwing him through the window of a cathedral. If you’re still trying to take the movie seriously at this point, you are bound to be disappointed.
The overall plot is simple, Hugh Jackman, taking a break from being Wolverine and joined by comic relief Faramir, is now fighting werewolves (and other monsters), as part of a divine call from the Papacy. There’s hints that he might be an angel, or somehow special, but either way Van Helsing has developed a reputation for killing and doing church work. Jackman’s main mission, if he chooses to accept it, is to take out The Duke, played by Hugh Stamp, who we shall refer to as Count Vladislaus Dracula. Because that is his name.
There’s a level of irony with the casting in the film with both Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale having acting experience with Wolverine and fighting vampires, respectively. Maybe irony isn’t the right word. Maybe typecasting.
The movie is action packed and gory. There are numerous chase scenes and fight scenes though a lot of the violence is done with rough computer animation. If you’re squeamish (like me) you might not be a huge fan of the exploding gargoyles that burst like flying sacs of puss, but the CG is so unpolished I don’t think it’s meant so much to be gross as it is to be over the top silly.
The character of Abraham Van Helsing was originally introduced in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. When Stoker debuted the character in the 1879 novel, Van Helsing was an elderly and learned man having studied much about medicine and a little about the dark arts. (Exactly 100 years before Harry Potter was published.) The film incarnation of Van Helsing calls for an action hero in this scenario, and while I am a bit disappointed to see such a rich character simplified, I do not begrudge them for their choices, because they did what they had to do to keep a thrill-seeking audience mostly entertained for 131 minutes. (Though I always do recommend the reading of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s fantastic.)
Overall it was a good film. It’s certainly not for everyone, but if you like movies like Kung Fu Hustle and haven’t seen this one, definitely is worth a watch. Holding a 5.9 out of 10 on IMDB this action, adventure, fantasy, is quirky, silly, and odd.