Big, dumb, & loud
However, when the movie began I immediately got out of the mood. For one thing, I'd just worn shorts and a very light-weight shirt that night as it was the middle of summer, and it was subzero degrees inside that theater that night--that really didn't help matters. I remember shivering and trying to watch the opening part to the story, and the volume was turned up so darn loud as some theaters overdo their sound systems, it was a totally miserable experience for me, and I wasn't that much into the silly film either. So I told Roche, I'm walking. He sort of looked at me quite astonished, as I think actually he was enjoying into the film, but I just said, I'm not feeling well, and split.
So last night I gave it another day in court, and I got a different experience from the film. Mind you it was not that it is a high artistic achievement, but a different take. When I saw Hugh Jackman in his costume, it immediately reminded me of Solomon Kane from the Robert E. Howard stories. The story did have this pulpy feel to it, and taken in that mold, seemed okay. Van Helsing is also a mashup of comedy, Universal monster flicks, and pulp adventure all rolled into one. That still doesn't make it a great film, but taken within that context, it can be an entertaining one, if you're in the mood.
There are several things you have to ignore, however, there's too much CG in the movie, the movie plays too loud, even with the volume at a tolerable level, and really there's not a lot of plot to it, and what plot there is, is totally silly--so you more or less have to turn your brain down to #1 or so, and throw suspension of disbelief off a high gargoyle wall, and just watch it for mindless fun. Also it could have been edited down a bit, as I thought it was a bit long. With that said though it can be a fairly fun, escapism movie. I really don't think it was made for any reason beyond that, other than maybe if it did well at the box office, another sequel might be made. Which actually I wouldn't mind, if they played it a tad bit straighter.
The whole plot centers around Dracula trying to find and perfect the Frankenstein formula in a effort to create children with his wives. Since they are undead, they need that. The film gets started as Van Helsing is tracking down Doctor Hyde (of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and botches that adventure. He returns to Vatacan City, his headquarters more or less, where he meets up with Q to get some high-tech weapons, and Carl, his sidekick. The next stop is Transylvania where he meets up with Kate Beckinsale and learns eventually about her brother. Anna (Kate Beckinsale) and her brother, come from a long lineage of a family intent on vanquishing Dracula from their city.
Now you'll see characters swoop, tumble through branches of trees, fall backwards, get up leap tall buildings with a single bound like superheroes, so you just have to go with that. Like I said, this film is pretty much all style, little substance. But I think the style, is part of the draw. I don't know how much of this film is CG and where the real set designs are used, but overall it has a nice look. The costumes are great, and some of the creatures are pretty menacing enough to give a young kid nightmares, but it's all played for fun. Granted it's a thin line whether you feel it goes too far one way or the other, and depends on your mood if you're into this sort of film at all, but last night I found it fun enough.