Van Helsing (2004): Breakdown by Rantbo
The guy who plays Wolverine, channels Batman, to play legendary demon slayer, Van Helsing.
Before getting into Steven Sommers’ masterpiece, VAN HELSING, I feel I must address the prequel. Yes, this film actually has one…
Van Helsing: The London Assignment (2004)
Released straight to DVD, oddly a week AFTER the theatrical release of the main film, this little animated feature went virtually unnoticed. And for good reason.
The story follows Helsing, on assignment in London. No shit, right? As he hunts down all “evil so ancient, all have forgotten it”, Dr. Jekyll and his alter ego, Jack the Ripp-er, I mean, Mr. Hyde, to stop him from gutting hookers, stealing their life essence and using it to de-age and hypnotize the Queen of England into a young babe worthy of marriage. Take THAT, mythology!
Helsing pulls off his best Dark Knight impression, stalking the city and generally fucking up the architecture battling Hyde from the roof-tops, to the subways, to the pits of Hell(?). I don’t know, that’s what it looked like. And it was filled with zombie royal guardsmen, summoned back from the dead by Hyde—which, admittedly, was pretty cool. But, sense it made not! And as for everything else, meh. The running time is around 30 minutes, so I don’t feel too raped of my time, but there wasn’t anything of substance making it worthwhile either. The animation was standard television fair, with some added blood gags to appeal to teenagers, I’m guessing. Overall it does a barely passable job of setting up the feature, as when Helsing is unveiled in the live-action flick, he is finishing up said case with Hyde. But the fact remains, this was made for the sole purpose of cashing in on the hype of the assumed blockbuster status of VAN HELSING. And to take advantage of people too oblivious to read the DVD title carefully, which subsequently makes it feel quite rushed and of poor quality. So, I don’t condone it.
On to the main attraction.
The opening of the movie, featuring a highly (unintentionally(?))comical Count Dracula and the storm of the Frankenstein Castle, was supposed to be an homage to Universal’s classic monster movies (even going so far as to have it shown in black-and-white), but it all comes off more like a MadTv skit, and it doesn’t get much better. Helsing works for this shady religious organization, traveling around the world and fucking up various monsters and unholy creatures of the night, in a sort of penance, as he lost his memory several years ago and is lead to assume that kicking-ass for the lord will eventually render him cured. Why not? And we join him on a particularly difficult and taxing mission of throwing down with Dracula, his Brides, Frankenstein’s Monster, Egor and the Wolfman. With the aid of Kate Beckinsale and her silly accent. Directed by one of the Four Horsemen of Shitty Action, Steven Sommers.
There is corny, there is hammy, there is ridiculous, there is idiotic and then there is VAN HELSING. A film so overly melodramatically goofy and special effects ridden, it’s practically unwatchable without constant groan induced laughing spurts. From the fact that Dracula employs a team of fetish dressed Jawas, to the plot of using werewolf blood and monsters to activate Frankenstein’s experiment in order to “jolt” his slimy egged brood into being birthed, it‘s all just so—dumb.
Much like Sommers’ re-imagining of the Mummy tale, and michael bay movies, this film is plagued by constant un-funny humor and when added in with the terrible dialogue, ridiculous story and over-the-top CG, it just becomes too much to stomach.
This is all made worse by the fact that this is simply a shitty, 160 million dollar actiony version of the classic 80s horror/comedy, THE MONSTER SQUAD. A rag tag team must defeat a series of Universal brand monsters with the aid of Frankenstein’s monster. The only difference being, MONSTER SQUAD was about a group of kids. Oh, and the script was clever, the dialogue witty, the monsters practical, scary and treated with a degree of respect. All things missing from this shit-bomb.
Best way I can think to describe this movie is with a Halloween allegory. You know as a kid, when you spent all night walking door to door collecting candy, all building to the one moment when you’d dump it all onto the kitchen table, to marvel at your haul? It was great, was it not? But then, you sat there and pigged out till you got a stomach ache, and for the next couple days, didn’t even want to think about candy. That’s what this movie does with special effects and nonsense. It sounds like fun, it looks fun, is fun for about an hour, but by the time it gets to the showdown with Werewolf Helsing and Giant Bat Dracula, your stomach will be churning. Sometimes, less is more, and this is something Sommers and the other Horsemen need to get through their juvenile skulls.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Hugh Jackman is Gabriel Van Helsing
“Some say you’re a murderer, Mr. Van Helsing. Others say you’re a holy man. Which is it?”
“It’s a bit of both, I think.”
“You are the great Van Helsing! Trained by monks and molas, from Tibet to Istanbul. Protected by Rome herself!”
I’m sad to say that the filmmakers managed to take one of literary history’s greatest demon slaying heroes and reduce him to a wiener. As aside from flying around a green screen via Batman’s grappling-gun, he doesn’t really get to do much of anything.
I’m actually hard pressed to think of any singular Bad-Ass defining moment. I could consider his ability to bounce back to his feet after being thrown 50 feet into something (an event that happens no less than 20 times) as something close, but resiliency alone does not a bad mother fucker make. Every time he comes close to doing something awesome, they have him bumble it up or get his ass handed to him. Which leaves his eventual victory up to his team, or just plain dumb luck. And this from a man that they hint at is the left hand of God, the angel Gabriel. How do you fuck THAT up!? Christopher Walken would ass-fuck this Van Helsing like the mighty fist of an angry god.
Even after he kills Dracula, barely a minute goes by before he fucks up his victory by killing his love interest, Kate Beckinsale. And while some may see this as Bad-Ass defining, I do not. She was the best part of this film, she was hysterical! Although, you do get to see her “soul” in the clouds of morning light, crying a whispy tear of gratitude(?) for Helsing re-uniting her with her dead relatives, which was pretty funny, and subsequently gave him a couple of B-A points. Just not enough to make the title character a non-wiener.
[THE BODY COUNT: BETWEEN 150 AND 500]
It all depends on whether or not you would count Dracula’s offspring. ‘Cuz there is a shit-ton of them and they all burst like piñata’s filled with over-ripe fruit.
Aside from them, an entire village is all but decimated by the Brides and brood. Helsing in turn, slays two of them, Beckinsale the third. And Dr. Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll, Two Wolfmen, Egor AND Dracula were all but guaranteed to not be able to return for a sequel.
But easily the most corpse-ridden deed of the film goes out to Helsing’s monk buddy, Faramir, who takes out an entire ballroom of bloodsuckers with a primitive version of the light bomb from BLADE II. The attendance of which I estimate to have been around a hundred.
[MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING & DEATH]
Remember when I mentioned that Dracula has a small army of mutated S&M midgets? Yeah, well Helsing spots one and for some reason gets pissed. He grabs the little fucker, smashes his face into a wall, screams at it and then throws it out a window.
This doubles as the most Epic Moment.
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
Seeing as how this movie features werewolves, you know there are some sweaty, tattered-clothed men just a cloud covered moon away. And I would also have made the case for Faramir, but midway through the picture, he requests sex from a peasant girl for payment of heroism, and it works. What a whore. Both of them. But, at least the act of depravity was manly, which is more than I can say for Helsing.
Look how disgusted and confused he is when literally faced with Beckinsale’s vag. Most men should be so lucky and this twit can’t even smile at the situation? What a fag. What’s worse, the audience is supposed to believe that there was a chance at a romantic relationship between these two. Yeah, RIGHT. I don’t think so.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
Aside from the aforementioned slutty townie, the females are reduced to two categories. The hilariously ridiculous, (Beckinsale) and the annoyingly ridiculous, (Dracula’s Trio of Bitches).
Even though I can’t take her seriously, Beckinsale is still an undeniably strong-willed, independent fighter. But any fuel she might have added to the flame of female empowerment is rapidly deluded by the emotional psychotic flying cunt-bags.
When they aren’t screeching or crying at the top of their well-endowed lungs, they’re busy showing them off. Not to mention their entire reason for existence is to broodmare for the Count. Furthermore, after the first one dies, Dracula expresses sorrow, but conversely explains how he is incapable of feelings after being yelled at by the remaining Brides for suggesting that he’ll find a replacement for the dead one, as though they simply lost a pet gerbil. It’s all very silly.
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
“Nothing is faster than Transylvanian horses. Not even werewolves.” Except for Vampires. Oh, and werewolves.
[THE CHECKLIST: 16 outta 25]
[ ] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[X] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[ ] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[ ] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[X] Tis The Season [All Hallows’ Eve]
[X] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[ ] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
Van Helsing (2004) © Universal Studios and Universal Studios Home Entertainment
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