Review: Van Helsing

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Stephen Sommers' Van Helsing is a rip-roaring start to the 2004 summer blockbuster season, complete with attractive performers and so much computer-generated action that my friend Jonas stated that "the special effects made my retinas burn".

Hugh Jackman (X-Men, Kate and Leopold - *shudder*) plays Van Helsing, a fighter under the control of the Vatican to go out and conquer the evils that civilization does not even know of. To many laypeople, Van Helsing is simply a murderer, because they do not know that he is protecting them from beasts such as Mr. Hyde, Dr. Frankenstein, werewolves, and Dracula.

In this film, Van Helsing is sent to Transylvania to slay the infamous vampire before he kills off the last member of the Valerious family, Anna (played by Underworld's Kate Beckinsale). One of Anna's ancestors made a pact with God that no member of his family would enter the pearly gates unless Dracula was slain before the last member of the Valerious family. Thus, the price riding on Van Helsing's failure is an eternity in purgatory for the Valerious's.

Van Helsing is a good, solid, entertaining film. It gets going with such an exciting start, and I don't think there are even any titles in the beginning of the film. The film is a pure masterpiece until the romantic tension begins between Anna and Van Helsing. Up until this point it appears as though Van Helsing will be taking itself further than a typical monster/action movie. Van Helsing's other sidekick in his mission is the comical friar, Carl, who begins the film as a James Bond Q-type character, but then becomes fully involved in the mission.

The film, though, may be too over-the-top for its own good. The unrelenting pace, blinding special effects, and histrionic acting (particularly by Dracula and his vampire brides) get tiresome after a while, and I could have dealt with about 15 minutes less of film. I must note, however, that it is great to see so many hot female vampires and Beckinsale in the same movie. This is one for the big screen and a good film to see.

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