Stephen Sommers has such a unique approach to filmmaking. He can take the most sacred of vintage horror icons, re-imagine them in an entirely new and different light, and then proceed to botch them completely. His reworking of Universal’s classic The Mummy was entertaining at best, but his subsequent follow-up left the entire franchise reeking of dog shit. Nevertheless, the series made some money for Universal Studios.
And so, Universal gave Sommers the green light to take several other classic monster characters and revive them. The result was something called Van Helsing. It came nowhere near being a hit. It lacked many qualities: such as originality, or at least any general respect for the vintage films that inspired it. As an adventure film, it’s comical. As a comedy, it’s abominable. In the end, it left many a film buff wondering if Stevie-boy even bothered to watch the original films all the way through.
The titular character, one Gabriel Van Helsing, is a monster killer. He is employed by Vatican City, which doubles as an early form of MI6 and even has its own gadget department run by the monks, who invent many highly sophisticated items for the 19th Century. An automatic-firing crossbow with clips. Handheld spinning sawblade thingies (with their own secret power source). A solar bomb.
The rest of the 19th Century is also pretty advanced and has such amazing articles as moving pictures. No, I don’t mean the cinema — I mean pictures that move. But, of course, the other kind of moving pictures must have been pretty popular then, too: how else does one explain Van Helsing’s constant John Woo-style of gunplay?
But those are only some of the minor setbacks in Van Helsing. The actors either phone their performances in or overact to no end. The story itself is absolutely absurd: archangel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman, who should have known better) battling a CGI Dr. Hyde (voiced by Robbie Coltrane) in Paris before being assigned to put an end to Count Dracula in good ol’ Transylvania.