Welcome to the start of the 2004 movie season. After the stunning success of
last summer's high profile film, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, it
makes sense to start off this summer's season with its sequel, VAN HELSING.
Oops, I forgot. THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, for all of its hype,
turned out to be a box office bomb and a barely watchable movie. And, even if
the plot of VAN HELSING sounds a lot like THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY
GENTLEMEN, it actually isn't a sequel. It's also not a sequel to a somewhat
similar and equally awful picture, UNDERWORLD, which starred Kate Beckensale,
the co-star of VAN HELSING. VAN HELSING is by writer/director Stephen Sommers,
whose last film, THE MUMMY RETURNS, was yet another bloated and brain-dead
action picture. You'll see several of the special effects from THE MUMMY
RETURNS repeated in VAN HELSING.
VAN HELSING's story involves Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh), Frankenstein's
Monster (Shuler Hensley) and Dr. Jekyll (Stephen Fisher), as well as a couple
of vampire killers, Anna Valerious (Beckinsale) and Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman).
Actually Van Helsing, whose current weapon of choice is a gas-powered machine
gun crossbow, is a killer for hire who is ready to annihilate whatever monsters
the Vatican tells him to eliminate. I could tell you more, but, since the
script is utterly irrelevant, I won't waste your time. The movie is little
more than a long sequence of superhero-type fights. Bring your earplugs
because this ungodly mess is as painfully loud as it is mind-numbingly stupid.
The movie plays like one long preview for a video game. The film's CGI sets
are as handsome as you'd find produced by the finest game machines.
About the only thing good about VAN HELSING -- other than that it finally lets
the audience escape by rolling the credits -- is that Hugh Jackman looks
spectacular in his big black hat with a mile-long brim. The hat covers his
eyes, which helps to hide his embarrassment for having been associated with
this pathetic picture.
VAN HELSING runs way, way too long at 2:13. It is rated PG-13 for "nonstop
creature action violence and frightening images, and for sensuality" and would
be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.
Copyright © 2004 Steve Rhodes