Directed & Written by Stephen Sommers
Produced by Stephen Sommers & Bob Ducsay
Cinematography by Allen Daviau
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Will Kemp, Kevin J. O'Connor & Shuler Hensley
2004/132 mins/Color/5.1 Dolby Digital
1.85:1 anamorphic/English/US/NTSC Region 1
Review from Universal DVD
Set in the late 1800s in Europe, Hugh Jackman is Van Helsing... the legendary monster hunter working for the Catholic Church. Unlike the original Bram Stoker version, this Van Helsing is more of a James Bond type hero then the Edward Von Sloan or Peter Cushing originals.
Helsing's new mission is to take down Dracula in Transylvania. The blood sucker lord of the vampires is trying to finish the work of a certain Dr. Frankenstein. To make things worse, the Count has werewolves and winged scantily flying vamps brides working for him. This won't be an easy task for the monster hunter, especially since some of his past which he had forgotten are coming back to haunt him.
Thankfully, he is soon helped by the dropdead gorgeous Anna Valerious (played by certainly the hottest Hollywood actress today, Kate Beckinsale) along with the film's version of James Bond's Q character, Carl (David Wenham providing the very uncessary comic relief that plague most movies today).
Much like Sommers previous movies, this one is a cg (computer generated) effects extravaganza! For some it might be a cool thing but not for others. Sure its ok to update the original classic monsters but Sommers hardly pays any respect to them... much like he did in his "remake" of THE MUMMY a few years ago. Still this film is dumb fun and surprisingly a little interesting... ok I gotta admit that one of the reason I wanted to see this was because of Kate Beckinsale, yet I could say the same thing about UNDERWORLD! As a kid I would have loved it but not now. In the end, i've seen much worse but i'm in no hurry to watch this one anytime soon.
If there's one thing that I had no doubts about was the fact that this would be a great transfer. Universal went all out on this film! Presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and enhanced for 16x9 television, VAN HELSING looks amazing! The colors are rich, vibrants, perfectly saturated and with rich blacks, something nicely appreciated since the movie mostly take place in the dark. The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is loud, clear and aggresive. It makes great uses of all the channels and features lots of cool little ambient sound fx through the movie. There is also a 2.0 Dolby Surround English, French and Spanish track. All three are also pretty effective and nicely mixed. Optional English, French and Spanish subtitles are also available.
Like most disc today, VAN HELSING features commentary tracks. The first one has director Stephen Sommers and producer Bob Ducsay. They are longtime friends and collaborators and its shows. This is your typical commentary track taking a look at most of the details of the making of this "epic" movie. The next track features all three actors playing the lead monsters in the film, Richard Roxburgh (Dracula), Will Kemp (Wolfman) and Shuler Hensley (Frankenstein's monster and also Mr.Hide). All three "monsters" seemed to had a great time doing this movie and have a blast doing this track which is without a doubt the most interesting of the two.
Next is 'Dracula's Castle', an "interactive" game. This is without a doubt one of the most useless and worst extra i've ever seen in a disc! You "move" in a MYST-like environement of the castle to discover "facts" about monsters... for kids or gothic wanna-be only! There's about five minutes of Blooper Reel which features mostly the cast fooling around. It sure looks like they had a great time. In 'Bringing The Monsters To Life' we see how the cg fx were created for the movie. Its interesting but at only 10 minutes a little too short. In 'You Are In The Movie' you can see various angles of some scenes of the movie, then when the featurette is over you can do it while watching the film. 'Van Helsing - The Story, The Life... The Legend' takes a look at the character created by Stoker. We see some of the 1931's classic DRACULA scenes up to the new all out non-stop action and "electrifying" version. God, Kate is smoking hot!
There's also a demo of the VAN HELSING game for XBox... but you will need an XBox to play it, the theatrical trailer, the Super Bowl tv spot, SHREK 2 preview and some DVD-ROM features. When the disc is inserted you'll get trailers for other Universal titles, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, SEED OF CHUCKY, THE MUMMY, THE MUMMY RETURNS and THE SCORPION KING. The disc features animated menus with morphing and music, nicely done! The film itself is separated in 28 chapters, comes in a keep case but features a special embossed paperboard package. There is no inlay card but a booklet with some promotional adds from Universal.
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©