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After having taken care of Jekyll (Stephen Fisher) and Hyde (Robbie
Coltrane) in Paris, Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), a demon hunter for the
Vatican, is sent to Transylvania with his sidekick friar Carl (David
Wenham) to deal with Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). Once there, he soon
meets Princess Anna (Kate Beckinsale), whose brother Velkan (Will Kemp)
has been turned into a werewolf, and who is now out to not only kill
Dracula (with quite an array of weapons) but to also get the antidote for
her brother's lycanthropy.
Soon enough, the two find out that Dracula these days resides at castle
Frankenstein, where he has peruaded Doctor Frankenstein (Samuel West) to
create life (in the form of the customary monster played by Shuler
Hensley), but once he has achieved that, Dracula killed the good Doctor.
(But in some turmoil, the monster has later escaped and now resides in the
customary burnt-out old mill, but more of that later.)
At Castle Frankenstein, Van Helsing and Anna find out why the vampire
count is going to such length to create life: he and his brides have
procreated, but their offspring is still in a larva state in a giant
incubation room, and now it takes some, I don't know, lifeforce to bring
them to life as such. Dracula has already tried to get the lifeforce from
mere humans, but with disappointing results: his offspring, little
bloodsucking gargoyles, has hatched alright and shown first signs of life,
however for some reason soon enough, the little creatures just blew up ...
Now Dracula tries to get the lifeforce of Velkan the werewolf, which
leads to the first clash between Van Helsing, Anna and the Count, but even
that doesn't work properly. There's only one conclusion: The Count needs
the lifeforce of the monster.
And of course, as these stories go, Van Helsing and Anna somehow
stumble over the monster, who lived in happy anonymity below the mill, and
made friends with him ... but somehow through them, Dracula finds out
where the monster is ...
To save the monster, Van Helsing, Anna and Carl make a hasty escape,
but to no avail, not only does Dracula finally get his hands on the
monster and can take him to a secret place, Van Helsing is even bitten by
a werewolf and will now turn into one himself ... unless they find
Dracula, who has the cure. And then, Carl even finds out only a werewolf
can kill Dracula the age old vampire.
... but Dracula is well hidden, and it takes a bit of dimensional
travelling to find his castle ... that includes a giant incubation room -
now only think what would happen if all those larvae would hatch, thanks
to the monster ...
It all ends in a massive battle of Van Helsing - always on the verge of
becoming a full fledged werewolf -, Anna, Carl and the monster against
Dracula and his vampire brood, in the end though, werewolf Van Helsing
does not only kill Dracula, he also gets the antidote just in time and is
now human once more. Only Anna has to die a heroine's death ...
I have to admit, I kind of liked this movie.
I liked it because it does pay loving hommage to the Universal
Horror Cycle of the 1930's and 40's, and to movie serials from
that time ... and I have to admit I'm a bit of a sucker for both. And
surprisingly enough (at least for a Hollawood blockbuster), the director
(Stephen Sommers) proves in the film that he knows his sources beyond a
quick and superficial flick through a reference book.
I only liked the movie kind of because it tries way too hard to be a
big budget film at the same time as a hommage (and it has cost enough -
reportedly 160 million Dollars - to fall into that category) ... and
that's where the film miserably fails: Most of the CGI-effects - which
must have taken most of the budget - are rather unconvincingly done and
rather destroy the film's (nostalgic) atmosphere, for example the
werewolves look way less convincing than Lon Chaney jr in The
Wolf Man - and even though I like that movie, Chaney jr did not
look very convincing -, most of the computer generated stunts - not
at all helped by rapid editing - fail to convince the audience of any real
danger for the characters, and the vampires' offspring, the gargoyles ...
they do look cute but not at all menacing. And then there's of course Van
Helsing himself, who has nothing to do with the aged professor from Bram
Stoker's Dracula but is instead portrayed a bit like Clint
Eastwood's Man with no Name in Sergio Leone's Dollar
Trilogy - which seems a bit out of place in this film. And
then there are these stupid plot ideas - like Dracula hiding his castle in
another dimension - towards the end of the film, which just fail to make
much sense ...
Still, I have to admit it's by far not as bad as I expected it to be, while
silly, it might entertain you if you're in a mood for a bit of nostalgia
and can forgive some horrible special effects and a storyline that at the
end leans towards the esotheric. And then
there's of course lovely Kate Beckinsale ...