It starts out in Transylvania. Villagers storm Dr. Frankenstein’s castle. Dr. Frankenstein has created his monster, funded by Dracula to serve him. Dr. Frankenstein refuses to help and Dracula kills Dr. Frankenstein. The monster goes into a rage and runs to a nearby windmill and it caves in due to fire. A year later in Paris, Van Helsing battles Mr. Hyde. Van Helsing works for a secret order of evil-fighting priests in the Vatican. Helsing is sent to Transylvania to help the king’s daughter and son battle Dracula and his minions (his brides and the wolf man).
The plot is not very confusing but it does have a few plots occurring simultaneously, which keeps it interesting. It basically tries to team up many of the original Universal Monster characters (Dracula with Igor and three vampiresses, Wolf Man, Frankenstein and his monster, Mr. Hyde and Van Helsing) into one movie, even more so than the 30s or 40s House of Frankenstein. It’s cool to see this mix but it felt a bit forced in my opinion. Igor looks like Radu from the Full Moon “Subspecies” movies. Dracula over acts a bit too much. Frankenstein’s freaky looking!
The cinematography is great at time but inconsistently so. The sound is excellent. Now the SFX are a major point of contention with this film. The SFX, for the most part, look fairly good. But they’re far from perfect and rarely look realistic. They look more like a videogame, choppy at times. Dracula didn’t look half bad. I thought the werewolves look okay but many thought they looked awful, I have seen tons worse, like in Harry Potter. The toy figure for Van Helsing wolf man, however, looked like a burnt brownie or Mr. Hanky from South Park! Frankenstein’s monster?! What in the hell is it? He looks like Bill Cosby mixed Berry Blue & Lime Jell-O and broke the mold in a tub of toxic waste! Worst Frank yet!
In my opinion, the best reason to see this is Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing. He’s a terrific actor, even in less than worthy movies such as this. He made this role his, he’s a truly re-invented Helsing. He shines above the rest of the cast.
Now many have said that Van Helsing is paying homage to the classic Universal Monster franchise. I just don’t see it. Sure it has the same characters and the basic framework of the original stories but the similarities end there! The character of Van Helsing is like a gothic Batman, dressed in black, with sort of a cape, gymnastic, and uses tons of gadgets! The original Van Helsing was elderly and more intellectual, not acrobatic. The plot is more like a child’s Saturday morning action-adventure cartoon, created to sell toys. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this movie, in fact I like it on its own. But to compare it to or say it pays homage to the classic Universal Monsters is just wrong. They’re two different dissimilar entities!
Your kids will love this and the toys too (just be sure they don’t mistakenly flush the wolf man toy down the toilet:). Adults might enjoy it, if they try to think like a teen or younger. It’s Rated PG-13 so it’s safe for all ages. I had higher hopes but wasn’t too disappointed. Worth a view.