Hey folks, Harry here... I'm dying to see VAN HELSING... These reviews that scream about the inhuman torture that this film unleashes upon the human brain... it's like being told about a rollercoaster that somebody shit themselves on... Ya just gotta go see if you shit too. Can't wait to hear what gets screamed out at my audience...
Last time I wrote a review for your website I was accused of being a plant. I don't think that's going to be a problem this time.
I read on your website how you've gotten a lot of negative reviews for Van Helsing and only one good one. You wrote that you heard people liked this movie and wondered why there weren't more good reviews being sent in. I can tell you why. This isn't a good movie and people don't like it. Whoever told you that the screen audiences were mainly positive lied to you, straight-out lied. There wasn't a single person at the screening I went to who like this movie. I'm not exaggerating. The biggest laugh came at the supposedly emotional finally that had all the subtly of a sledgehammer. The point at which the audience cheered the loudest during the movie was when someone in the back shouted 'THIS MOVIE SUCKS NUTS!" That's a word for word quote too.
This is just an awful, awful movie. At the beginning I had hope, it seemed like other than the vampires it might be an entertaining movie. A little over the top but potentially fun. That hope died quickly. The opening scene has Van Helsing fighting Mr. Hyde in Notre Dame. I can only take my hat off to Alan Moore, who has seemingly made every one forgot that Hyde was a little ugly guy who wasn't strong or brave. Here he's a giant monkey man, a computer generated one. 75% of this movie is computer generated and it gets boring fast. CGI characters fighting and swing on cables repeatedly is just tedious. The big final fight is a repeat of everything you've already seen just with a different background. The dialogue is mostly just laughable and when added to dreadful Romanian accents its even worse. The plot is so silly and stupid that its not even worth going into. Something about Dracula needing electricity to bring the babies that he had with his bride to life. But for some reason only electricity that flows through Frankenstein monster will do the job. The vampires are just terrible and they're most of the movie. There's no real explanation for why the werewolves is there, just that Dracula uses them as lackeys even though they're the only ones that can kill him. Oh yeah, and Dracula has midget henchmen. Frankenstein's monster is a lumbering joke who somehow knows the entire plot and gets to explain it to everyone else. Someone needs to explain to the director that a creature that's slow moving with a limp doesn't make a good action star either.
Then there were elements of the script that were just so obviously put in so that the director could force a scene to take place that it was painful. Vampires can come out during the day as long as the suns behind the clouds, the werewolves stop being werewolves when the moon goes behind the clouds and Dracula has a hidden lair that has a one-way entrance but he seems to get back and forth just fine. The most laughably ridiculous part has a werewolf magically setting a carriage on fire by crashing into it.
Poor Hugh Jackman, he hasn't made a good movie other than the Xmen. Here he's stuck playing a crappy wolverine knockoff. That's right, Van Helsing (who has no relation to the character from the Stroker Novel. His name is Gabriel, not Abraham) has no memory of his past and is seemingly immortal. Nothing much about his past is even revealed during the movie, other than what's blatantly obvious. Clearly, its being saved for the sequel but I won't be showing up to find out, that's for sure.
The best example I can give of how bad this movie is is this: As we were walking out of the free screening my girlfriend turned to me and said, "I want my money back. I want my life back."
I can only stress that people avoid this movie like the plague and hopefully Universal won't consider making a sequel.
Call me The Van Helsing Slayer.
And if you want confirmation about an audience member screaming out, "This Movie Sucks Nuts!" well... here you have it. Continue to be wary of spoilers... though from the sound of it, it arrived to the theater reeking of spoilt cinema...
Julius here. I saw the Friday screening of Van Helsing in NYC. But since I knew I wouldn't be able to write until today, and there were screenings wed and thurs too, I thought you'd have been inundated with reviews. You say you want more, so I'll add my two cents.
Perhaps this anecdote sums up the movie best. Near the end, when things got even more ludicrous in this cheeseball wrapped in cotton candy fun house of a movie, some audience member in the packed screening yelled out "This movie sucks nuts!" Appreciative laughter ensued in the crowd. I turned to my neighbor and said "It looks like the audience is turning against this film". Then the most over the top scene happens (I won't give it away but it is meant to be poignant like something out a 50s religious epic, but it is mostly embarrasing) and the audience applauded. It felt like ironic applause. I think this is a film so awful it is actually quite entertaining. To a point.
The big problem is Sommers. He takes good actors -I've seen Jackman, Beckinsale, Helnsley, Wenham, Roxborough all do far better work on screen and stage then the stale overbaked ham they are producing here- and gives them a script with such godawful dialog that the only good lines are the ones that are so bad they are funny and must have been intended as such; but Sommers doesn't know how to direct these actors to pull off those lines as high (or low) camp. You can see everyone straining to make these scenes play, but the movie veers from operatic overacting to wink wink nudge nudge line delivery, but never do the performances hit the mark. A Peter Jackson, Tim Burton, or even Gore Verbinski would have been able to pull this off - known how to calibrate the over the top action, horror, humor and sentiment just so. But Sommers evidently does not. So a film that starts promising veers more and more off course until what you are watching is a train wreck of spectacular proportions. The plotting, dialog and acting in the Mummy movies is Shakespeare compared to what is on screen here. And I like these actors.
By the way, did you know Hugh Jackman was discovered by the X-men folks when he performed Curly in the musical revival of Oklahoma in London? Guess who was Judd, the "villain" in that production? Shuler Hensley, Frankenstein's monster in Van Helsing. I wonder if the two of them would reminiscently sing "Surrey with a Fringe on Top" while hanging on wires together on the Van Helsing set.
Anyhoo, the CGI is fun, but never convincing, except, in my opinion, when the Vampires open their mouths wide as snakes - interestingly that's the effect another writer thought was the worst. The action scenes are at first fun in a James Bond, Video games sort of way and finally go way over the top. The James Bond rip off is clever, but the Spider Man rip off at the end is just begging for dirision. Even in a film of this nature there is only so much disbelief I can suspend before I start laughing at the screen. But if we're supposed to be laughing at the movie, it needs to be more surefooted in its comedy. And more fun and less cringeworthy in its operatic melodramatic outbursts.
I didn't come out of the theatre hating the experience. As I said, there was something entertaining about a movie so spectacularly awful. But unfortunately it wasn't spectacularly awful on its own terms. Unlike the Mummy movies, which whatever you think of them, do seem to reflect a specific directorial vision, Van Helsing seems to have slipped out of Sommers' control. He tried something bigger, weirder, scarier, more operatic and funnier here and it all became overwrought, a big gawdy dumb disaster.
So, see it with your expectations calibrated accordingly, and some fun can still be had.