You’d think director Stephen Sommers would have gotten his Indiana Jones fixation out of the system with Brendan Fraser’s gun-toting character in the two Mummy remakes, but Hugh Jackman’s monster-hunting Van Helsing has more than a hint of Henry Jones Junior to his make up.
For that matter, Van Helsing seems to possess more than a martini glass full of James Bondishness, plus a little leftover X-Men wolfishness for good measure. And that’s just one character, but you get the idea!
Sommers’ monster megafilm is a shameless mash-up of pretty much every genre film that’s ever made money. Excepting mummies, Universal’s entire back catalogue of monsters are in there from Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster to the Wolf-Man and even Mr Hyde. Of course, Sommers worships at the shrine of artistic licence so his unique take on vampire lore holds minimal fidelity to any accepted rules. Indeed, the plot works as a roll-call for big monsters and bigger fight scenes, tacked together by travel sequences pumped with an over-the-top score by Alan Silvestri.
The action is relentless, so if you like your popcorn films, then you’ll love this one because it has a nuclear core. The steampunk technology is fun and the CGI is pretty amazing; visually Van Helsing is a treat. The characterisation is campy-cardboard, but Jackman and Kate Beckinsale revel in it and seem to enjoy their roles. David Wenham’s Q-like Friar Carl is brilliant comic relief and a bit of a scence-stealer, but who could expect less from Diver Dan?
All in all, Van Helsing is all flash, but it’s very pretty to look at.