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on May 1, 2004
Why do people pan a movie so harshly when they haven't even seen it yet? I have seen VAN HELSING in an audience preview, and I will tell you that the trailer doesn't come close to describing the film. As the Universal folks said, the special effects weren't finished in time for the trailer... but the final product is absolutely stunning.
No, critics will probably not like this fun romp through Van Helsing's monster adventures. It might not win an Academy Award for its script. But if you liked The Mummy or other epic adventures of its type, you ARE going to be the right audience for VAN HELSING.
This movie is just plain fun. The story pays homage to the classic monster legacy films in Universal's vault, as well as many modern day adventures. Van Helsing is a James Bond character of dark Transylvania. And his battles against Dracula are a roller coaster ride with non-stop action and vivid, beautiful scenery.
If you're an art film snob or the type who overanalyzes everything, forget about VAN HELSING. You've missed the entire point -- badly -- and you'll spoil all the fun. If you like the occasional mindless, delicious, sit-back-and-hold-on entertainment, this is your kind of movie.
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on October 23, 2004
I just watched Van Helsing. After reading about twenty or more reviews of the movie from all over the Internet I was a bit apprehensive that I would like it, but I like the genre and thought I would give it a try. Well let me tell you I thought it was a GREAT MOVIE! Many of the reviews I read spoke about how campy the movie was and how bad the acting was especially by the actor that played Dracula... Well my take on this is it was meant to be campy. The movie starts out in black and white just like the old movies from yesteryear (this should have been a red flag to everyone but I guess a lot missed it) and then we are introduced to Dracula and he is way over the top with his acting ... but just in the beginning of the film... to set it up as campy. It's a wink and nod to the past. Many also complained that the story line just never could happen... that Dracula could never be lead man of both Wolfman and Frankenstein and that Van Helsing could never be a Missionary from the Vatican. With that said, It's called poetic license... those that trash the movie because they don't like the set up I think went into the movie with preconceived ideas on what they were going to see. When they were not rewarded, they trashed the movie. Sorry to say, I think this has happened a lot to this movie. The reason I am writing this review is so that those that may be interested in possibly purchasing the movie but are scared away with all the negative reviews... Don't listen to them... The movie is intended to be watched with popcorn with the lights out and sound up... lots of action, monsters, and a little love... but this is not a horror movie as some I think thought it was, its just pure fun not to be taken seriously... the film doesn't take itself seriously ... why should you?
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on April 15, 2008
This film is a throwback to those old 50's horror films that had classic monsters doing battle with each other coupled with the wit of the 60's era all combined with the thrills and special effects of today's films.

Entertainment rarely gets better than this. Now stop laughing at my five stars for this kind of film. This isn't the five stars you would give a film like Platoon or The Painted Veil. It's more like the five stars you would you give a film like Aliens or Die Hard. This is fun, thrilling, and engaging entertainment. It's simple popcorn fun that the whole family, for the most part, can enjoy. The CGI can be a little over-the-top, but it is still excellently done and doesn't get in the way of the story.

The film has engaging actors who, while playing their roles with some seriousness, you can tell that it is all tongue-in-cheek and one expects them to wink at the camera at any time. Hugh Jackman certainly carries the film with great charm and coolness that reminds one of Ford's Indiana Jones. Kate Beckinsale is great as his reluctant partner and just looks dang sexy in this role that brings to mind her Underworld character. She just sizzles on the screen. In addition, excellent support is rendered by David Wenham, most known for his roles in 300 and The Lord of the Rings - The Motion Picture Trilogy, Richard Roxburgh of Stealth, Kevin J. O'Conner from The Mummy, and Robbie Coltrane who is best known as Hagrid in the Harry Potter films.

The direction is confidently done and unobtrusive. He combines action and horror very effectively. The photography is appropriately creepy and atmospheric. The set designs are elaborate and the score is compelling. The entire film is excellently produced and is what I call a high octane film. This film gets you running on all cylinders. Watch it and have a blast enjoying it for the kind of entertainment it is.

The film is thrilling and suspenseful with the various classic creature battling each other and at times forming uneasy alliances. This is just old fashioned witty and enjoyable entertainment. The repeat value of this film is what also makes this film worthy of a place in your DVD collection.
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on March 19, 2009
Van Helsing is one of the most over the top action movies I've ever seen. It's got in your face CGI and a ridiculous plot with cheesy acting. But that's what makes it so damn good. Like other reviewers have said who liked it, it's a nod to the oldies with the new technological makeover and it's a helluva lot of fun to watch...again and again. I understand how people don't like this movie. I may seem like I have horrible taste in movies by loving this, but I like a good Se7en, Silence of the Lambs, or The Shawshank Redemption, much smarter, much more mature and provocative works that stay with you for a while. This movie is the kind where I can just relax, not think too much, and just enjoy and adrenaline-filled, visual effects laden, awesome adventure. I thought the production design was super cool, and at least I could tell a lot of people working on this movie put love into what they were doing. Haha I know that sounds so stupid but I thought so. I'm just puttin down my thoughts on this because I don't want everyone to expect and judge this movie because it's not as smart or well constructed as other, better movies. This one is just F-ing fun. Pardon my French.
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All said and done, this film is a tremendous amount of fun. Director Stephen Sommers takes the stuff of our favorite fictional monsters and blends them together to create a highly imaginative reconstruction of the story of Dracula. Resemblances to Bram Stoker's original tale are entirely accidental. Instead we find Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) using with Dr. Frankenstein (Samuel West) to serve some dark and nefarious purpose. Not very far in the background is a werewolf (Will Kemp) who carries part of the answer to the puzzle - when he isn't trying to chew a hole in Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman).

Kate Beckinsale plays Anna Valerious, the last living member of her family, who have been dedicated to exterminating Dracula for some 400 years. Thanks to an oath of her forefathers, the Valerious line is condemned to purgatory as long as Dracula wanders the night. Concerned that this curse is about to become permanent, a secret order of the Catholic Church sends in their best occult assassin - Van Helsing - aided reluctantly by Friar Carl (David Wenham), who plays the mad inventor to Van Helsing's athletic efforts. Gabriel shows up to help Anna, is promptly rebuffed by the woman, whose mind is definitely her own. But the action goes ballistic, and no one gets time to be banished or stomp off.

And of action, special effects, stunts. and computer graphics there is a great muchness. Most of which looks just believable enough to keep the audience staring open mouthed at the screen. An outstanding job is done with Dracula's wives (Elena Anaya, Silvia Colloca, and Josie Maran) and the Frankenstein monster (Shuler Hensley). So good that these characters very nearly steal the entire show. Sets are equally carefully crafted, with a marvelous medieval town and two whole gothic castles. The visual impression of the film often completely overwhelms the story.

The acting is bright, with a slightly crude, sarcastic style of interplay between the characters. The overall touch is comedic, despite the inevitable sour grapes of the ending. Don't look for greatness here. The point is to create an exciting, fun experience, not to recreate the dark and brooding spirit behind the originals. Sommers does well with this tongue-in-cheek, cut-and-run style and Van Helsing proves this once again
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on March 16, 2012
I purchased this disc to replace my DVD version. The upconverted DVD (via my Oppo BDP-93) is not as detailed as the Blu-ray version. In addition, the high-def sound has more impact than the DVD version. The picture detail, especially in the dark scenes is outstanding.
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VINE VOICEon April 7, 2005
Don't let the negative comments scare you away from this film; most of these viewers totally missed the point of the film. This is a actually a parody of the horror genre (like Polanski's "The Fearless Vampire Killers"). So if you don't appreciate parody don't watch it and I'm not guaranteeing that you will find it good parody, just don't dismiss the film because somebody thought it was serious and said or wrote something negative about it-they are probably clueless.

Parody/satire of horror films has a long tradition and ranges from the obvious (see Abbott & Costello, Mel Brooks, and "Redneck Zombies") to the subtle (see "The Fearless Vampire Killers" and "Evil Dead"). Before reading many of the comments I would have grouped "Van Helsing" closer to the obvious, after all the film depicts a Vatican Department modeled on James Bond's Special Weapons "Q" Section. But apparently even something so obvious is not registering with many people, if the true measure of a 'subtle' satire is how many people just don't get it, then "Van Helsing" certainly qualifies.

They went into this project saying something like: "let's use digital effects and a large budget to create the most interesting sets in horror movie history, and then use these as a backdrop for a parody of the "horror genre". When concerns were raised about the expense for just a comedy, they pitched it as a sophisticated parody that would not get in the way of the average viewer's desire to see a traditional vampire movie. Such a dichotomy allows the movie to generate big bucks at the box office while still providing its makers with an outlet for their creativity. But such a dichotomy means there will be a third group of viewers who cannot suspend disbelief enough to enjoy it as a horror film and yet will totally miss the parody angle (the only question is whether they too humorless to find enjoyment in such frivolity or are just a little too dim to appreciate it).

The movie opens with a visually awesome scene of the villagers storming a huge castle and burning a windmill; the sets and the music are great. Except for the overacting and the presence of an assistant named 'Egor' or "Igor" (see Mel Brooks reference), you would not suspect that this is anything but a serious horror film.

The film plays homage to the Karloff/Chaney films, to Abbott and Costello, Mel Brooks, James Bond and The Wild, Wild West. There is a little Phantom of the Opera and even Eli Wallach's best line from 'The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly' (if you're going to shoot, shoot don't talk). In fact they even lift the vampire ballroom scene from "The Fearless Vampire Killers".

The individual performances are from the William Shatner School of Over-Acting with Dracula's brides totally stealing each scene in which they are featured. I particularly liked Josie Maran (who had that great scene as the cigarette girl in "The Aviator") as Marishka. The costumes are almost as good as the sets. The computer-generated action sequences illustrate all the problems with digital effects, but work fine as satirical devices.

So if you want to see a fun film with unparalleled visuals this is the one. Others who can suspend disbelief and ignore a few campy elements will enjoy it as a straight vampire picture. But if you are can't, are just humorless, or don't know the horror genre you should stay away.

Because there are really two movies here, the first viewing withholds most of the viewing pleasure; once you understand what is happening repeated viewings are even more fun. I suggest getting the "Ultimate Edition" DVD because of all the extras it contains.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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on September 22, 2004
VAN HELSING, though a tadbit weak in storyline, is a great popcorn fun fest that is sure to please action/adventure fans.

Full of hair-raising special effects, Van Helsing is fast-paced and fun to watch. But the weaknesses were mainly semi-weak plot with Dracula being portrayed by a B-movie actor.

But I'll be buying it mainly because I dig Hugh Jackman and Stephen Sommer's style of movie making. I hope he just get's grittier stuff than the Mummy type movies. I liked Van Helsing better than the Mummy movies myself, because the look of this film and it's pacing were excellent.

Great mix of horror characters. I will be looking forward to his next endeavor in films...
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on April 10, 2004
I was at the screening of Van Helsing last Tuesday and my first impression is that the movie is quite amazing.
The CGI stuff looks like it needs more work (pygmy bats look quite silly), but the werwolf and the brides are fantastic.
As far as the actors, my praise goes to Mr Richrad Roxburgh who created a new Dracula, whose sadness and hollowness is rather touching.
Kevin O' connor is great as usual, hidden in the heaviest make up you would imagine.
Kate and Hugh team up very well even though Kate's beauty is challenged by the three stunning vampire brides, especially by the charm of the dark head vixen ( Sylvia Colloca, I think).
On the whole, a very good job that will hit the box office!
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on September 8, 2004
What on earth are all of your problems with this movie? Some of you say its boring?? Well, struth, you must be one hell of a hard person to keep interested. If you thought this movie was boring, then i think no other action movie will ever keep you interested.

What is this crap about the story was so hard to follow? I am guessing that the people criticising the story, are the people with pathetic concentration spands. Maybe if the director had known you like simpler stories, and not complex ones, he would have made it more easy for you.

Special effects did not over take this movie. It made it great. I cannot understand the critics of this movie. When i saw these reviews, i hadnt watched it, and didnt want to. But when i eventually did watch it, at a friends house, i couldnt bellieve that these critics were talking about this movie.

For me, this is a great movie. You critics need to stop knocking a movie that isnt bad at all!
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