Flashback Review: Van Helsing (2004)

Hello fellow movie goers from around the globe. It’s Halloween Month. Meaning, I’ll be looking over horror movies during October. Today’s Flashback Review is a crossover with iconic classic “Universal Monsters” including Dracula, The Wolfman, Frankenstein & Jekyll/Hyde as they cross paths with Dracula’s nemesis “Van Helsing.” Thanks to the success of Stephen Sommer’s remake of “The Mummy” alongside other remakes like Dracula 1992, “Wolf” & Frankenstein 1994, it was Van Helsing’s turn to introduce a new generation of movie goers with Hugh Jackman as the titular character.

Van Helsing was released in 2004. (same year Shaun Or The Dead came out) It received negative reviews from critics and movie goers alike. Although labeled as a critical flop, it managed to make enough money at the box office. I confess, when I was a kid, Van Helsing was my first exposure to the Universal Monsters co-existing from one other. Back then, I was glued to the TV watching shows on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon & Disney Channel. I’m giving this movie credit. I even played the Van Helsing video game on PlayStation 2. Prior to the film’s release, a half-hour animated film titled, “The London Assignment” focuses on Helsing tracking down Jekyll/Hyde.

A Van Helsing reboot is currently in the works. As of October 2021, no confirmation if a script is approved. All I know is James Wan (the Saw franchise, The Conjuring series, Aquaman) will serve as a producer. Besides Van Helsing, The Wolf Man is getting a reboot with Ryan Gosling as the character.

Today’s review contains SPOILERS. If you’re curious to see Van Helsing, read at your own risk.

Alive & Dead Aspects

Alive: Hugh Jackman did an amazing job for his performance as the titular character.

Other Cast Members such as Kate Beckinsale, David Wenham (Faramir from The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy) & Richard Roxburgh all did a good job for their respective performances.

Action Sequences were great showcasing iconic movie monsters duking it out with Helsing.

Cinematography looked surprisingly good.

Some Set Pieces were manually built by set decorators.

Prosthetic Makeup transformed some of the actors into the monsters (minus Jekyll/Hyde & The Wolf Man) they portrayed.

Alan Silvestri (Back To The Future Trilogy, Forrest Gump, The Avengers) orchestrated the music.

Opening Scene is Black & White. Paying homage to the classic Universal Monsters films with Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr. & Boris Karloff.

You think The Wolf Man was the only werewolf who had a movie back in 2004? “Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban” also had featured a werewolf. I consider the third Harry Potter book/movie as the worst of the series. As a fan of the books/movies, this one left a bad taste in my mouth.

Helsing uses a grapple gun to escape Dracula’s place. Batman obviously uses one.

This ain’t Kate’s first rodeo as a vampire hunter. Care to explain the “Underworld” series?

A scene with Frankenstein using a chain to defeat Igor by swinging like Spider-Man was cheesy yet awesome at the same time. That scene gets Bonus Points. By the way, “Spider-Man 2” came out the same year as Van Helsing.

Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid from Harry Potter) provides the voice of Hyde.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m giving Van Helsing credit as my first exposure to the Universal Monsters co-existing together.

Dead: Stephen Sommers didn’t do a decent job directing and double checking the script.

Helsing’s mysterious past is never revealed in a flashback or brought up in crucial detail.

Visual Effects are fake including Mr. Hyde’s Hulk-esque appearance based on Alan Moore’s “The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” (not the terrible movie the comic book series) As if they belong in a PlayStation 2 game. Yeesh! This is why I prefer Practical Effects.

Whenever Dracula’s wives transform into their full vampire form, their clothes disappear. Why didn’t they stay intact during a full transformation? Even Dracula himself retains his humanoid form after changing back.

Anna acts like a doofus when she tries to acquire the cure for Helsing. Why didn’t she double check for booby traps?

Dracula is defeating by a werewolf Helsing’s bite. Vampires only die from sunlight or use a stake to stab the heart. As if nobody watched “From Dusk Til’ Dawn.” Is it so hard to watch a vampire film? It’s lazy for Stephen ignoring the vampire myth. And I thought Stephanie Meyer tarnished vampire lore in “The Twilight Saga.”

Glimpses of Anna’s spirit surrounded by clouds resembles a hokey version of Mufasa’s spirit from “The Lion King” giving a pep talk to Simba about his son’s destiny.

A Plot Hole involving why a werewolf bit Anna’s brother Velkan in the daytime, instead of a full moon at night.

I didn’t care for Helsing & Anna’s chemistry. They’ve known each other for less than a week. In real life, it’ll take a week or two for a pair to get to know one another until a relationship is fully established.

The Final Verdict: C-

Van Helsing isn’t a masterpiece or a stinker. I thought it was disappointing. Some parts were good, while some bad parts are just boo boos. If you wanna see a better crossover with the Universal Monsters, I highly recommend the “Hotel Transylvania” movies.

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