van helsing‘ is…awesome. but then again, this is my favorite type of movie – lots of action, great special effects, fun characters, great cinematography and editing. the plot is quite clever with a few surprises and exactly what one might expect from a stephen sommers movie. overall, ‘van helsing’ is more serious in tone than sommers’s last few movies, but is still fast-paced, exciting and fun.

Leading Cast

kate beckinsale was luminous (whatever that’s supposed to mean, she is consistently it. ‘underworld’ anyone? anyone?) and totally hot as anna valerious, an ass-kicking gypsy princess with enough cleavage to catch anyone’s eye. in a couple of interviews she talks about the hassels of the super-corset, including the tendancy for her ‘puppies’ noses’ to peek out. i paid attention, but sorry guys – i didn’t see any noses. her stunts and costumes were great and i thought she had a few really touching on screen moments despite her heavy-handed accent.

hugh jackman is a good leading man, but at first it was hard to take him seriously; i saw a lot of his interviews and they sort of threw me off – especially ‘inside the actors studio’ where he demonstrated his singing and dancing abilities…and his surprisingly high speaking voice. okay, the huge hat and long hair also are hard to swallow. however, his first fight sequence with mr. hyde put those concerns to rest; he is a great stunt performer and is really good at anger/rage/darkness as proved in the ‘x-men’ movies. also he’s easy on the eyes (what, do you want me to lie?).

Supporting Cast

kevin j. o’connor makes his requisite appearance as the bad guy’s lackey and will kemp is deliciously hot and tortured as anna’s brother, prince valkan, who has been turned into a werewolf and now must serve dracula who his vamily has sworn an oath to destroy. richard roxburgh plays dracula as believably as he did the count in ‘moulin rouge,’ but again – hard to fully accept him as dracula since he is the count. dracula’s accent is also a bit…um…off, but he’s dracula after all, he’s supposed to be sort of weird, right?

i was most impressed with david wenham who plays carl, the bookish, awkward, comic-relief sidekick. carl is a completely different character than faramir (from ‘the lord of the rings,’ wenham’s most well-known role) and i was pleasantly surprised with his acting – his posture, goofy little walk, accent, everything was flawless. of course, wenham was also in ‘moulin rouge’ as audrey, the playwright that ewan mcgregor’s character replaces. talk about unrecognizable! if you’re a david wenham fan his movie might be worth seeing just to see faramir in a jester’s costume, belled hat and all.


dracula’s brides were my favorite part of the movie. they were completely over the top and sexy and scary. all of the creature fx looked really good (frankenstein’s pneumatic knee!) especially the brides in their flying forms. the transformations from human to flying and human to wolfman were really cool. baby vampires? a little weird looking…not as scary as i would’ve liked, but their pod things were pretty gross.

allan cameron’s production design was amazing, but i expect nothing less from the man who has designed the ‘mummy’ films and ‘starship troopers’ and ‘willow’ (ok, ‘highlander’ too). the sets and the costumes were gorgeous and everything was brought out by allen daviau’s cinematography, which is of the typical style of late but that shouldn’t preclude its being good (the man shot ’empire of the sun’! come on!). bob ducsay is a super editor, if you’ve seen ‘the mummy’ you know what i mean.

alan silvestri’s score was cool…i guess. the guitar sort of weirded me out at first, but i suppose it goes along with the gypsy thing. i just probably wouldn’t have thrown it in at the beginning when van helsing is still in paris and transylvania and gypsy royalty haven’t even been mentioned yet.

In summary…

i thought ‘van helsing’ was super – so good in fact i have a hard time thinking of bad things to say about it. i am awash with post-rockin’-movie glow. constant vampire/bat creature shrieking might do some of you in, or maybe kate beckinsale’s sort of bad accent, or maybe that awful cheesy dumb thing that happens at the end (if you’ve seen it you totally know what i mean), or maybe you just aren’t into sci-fi or movies that are purely entertaining and are just supposed to be fun (what’s wrong with you people? don’t you like fun?! you probably don’t like michael bay either!). if you’re not bothered by these things you’ll have a great time.