‘Van Helsing’ lacks monster bite

    As the trailer seemed to promise, “Van Helsing” really is nothing more than a pretty bad film. The obscure lines, hokey Transylvanian accents and lack of any resemblance to a comprehensible plot will leave viewers irritatingly confused.

    The film starts out with black-and-white scenes of Doctor Frankenstein in his laboratory working on his well known “monster.” Electricity’s flying everywhere, lightning’s flashing all over the place, when suddenly Count Dracula (Richard Roxbough) appears by the monster’s bedside. Audiences will ask, “Wait, why is Dracula hanging out in Doctor Frankenstein’s laboratory?”

    A year later, Hugh Jackman is introduced as Mr. Gabriel Van Helsing, the underground assassin of evil hired by a secret high-ordered priesthood running out of the Vatican. He receives a mission to run over to Transylvania to vanquish Count Dracula. Before you know it, Wolf Man enters the plot out of nowhere, and suddenly the film cuts to a scene with Count Dracula running mysterious werewolf science experiments. The movie is pretty much downhill from there. It’s over a quarter into the film and viewers still don’t quite understand what the hell’s going on.

    Never will so many people in the theater turn to their neighbors with sadly perplexed looks to ask “What just happened?” “Van Helsing” takes too long to clarify the connection between the overload in side stories working throughout the film. In the end, there is little time to deliver a comprehensible explanation. This leaves the storyline weak, confusing and in a black hole somewhere between the plot of Nintendo’s “Castlevania” and “The Matrix Revolutions.”

    If bland is the plot, cheesy is the acting. Roxbough’s rendition of Count Dracula was comparable to the guy who dresses up as the vampire at Universal Studio’s monster revue show. And though Kate Beckinsale is pretty hot as the Transylvanian princess, Anna Valerious, her tasteless accent makes it hard to concentrate on any aspect of her acting.

    As for Jackman, however, he should receive credit for his performance. He excels at entertaining the audience with his charming humor while managing to make vampire slaying seem easy. Unfortunately, the expected sexual chemistry between Jackman and Beckinsale is nonexistent and audiences will feel more excited with the chemistry between Van Helsing and Carl the friar (David Wenham).

    The movie has its moments; it has its entertaining special effects, nice clean CG work and enough humor relief to make you chuckle once or twice. However, the bottom line is “Van Helsing” is a poorly executed film. Though it sits on a clever idea, this film will make even “Blade II” seem like a richly accomplished film.

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