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“Van Helsing – The London Assignment” – Review

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At the end of this animated “prequel” Van Helsing remarks to the rescued damsel that their predicament “wasn’t so bad.” To which she replies “I agree. It was worse.”

Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

In the early days of animation the studios would wash the cels so that they could be used again. This of course, destroyed millions of frames of classic animation art. Oh that this were possible in this case.

Van Helsing, voiced by Hugh Jackman who also played the character in the motion picture, is sent to London to track down a killer who’s been offing young women. The madman turns out to be a Mr. Hyde (yep, that one) who’s somehow bottling their life essences to restore Queen Victoria’s youth and beauty so that he can marry her and live happily ever after with her in his fiery underground lair.

There’s a lot of fighting and chasing and in the end Van Helsing saves the Queen and thwarts Jekyll/Hyde. Of course his wussy assistant is along for the ride and provides what I can only assume they intended to be comic relief.

I’d like to take this moment to point out that I am a man in his thirties with a wife, a son and a nice house in the suburbs and I realize that film was not made for me. But I think it’s too violent in spots for the children it’s obviously aimed at.

For example, a young woman is killed early on quite graphically and her body is shown limp with blood covering her newly slit throat. Needless to say I’m not recommending this one to parents.

The animation is serviceable at best and seems to reside somewhere between trying to be modern anime while trying to adhere to a 1970’s Saturday morning cartoon budget. One exception being what appears to be some computer animation in the train sequence that’s actually very good.

So what we’ve got here is a poorly produced commercial for the live action feature film that people are suckered into purchasing. The DVD includes a “behind the screams” look at Van Helsing, some fluffy interview material with Jackman telling you how great the movie is, and some promo stuff for the video game.

I’m waiting for the full-length movie to arrive from Netflix and I’ll be posting a review soon. I can only hope that it doesn’t live up to its prequel.

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