Saturday, May 08, 2004

Yes, the summer movie season HAS begun, and the now-traditional two-weeks-before Memorial Day release is the slot for movies like VAN HELSING--they're the movie that comes out that could not be a contender anywhere else in the summer lineup. I remember Stephen Sommers' THE MUMMY being the bold anti-STAR WARS in 1999--let's make tons of cash before the shit hits the fan! TWISTER really started this all in 1996. Before then, the big summer releases were leashed until Memorial Day, but the cash cow was discovered.

VAN HELSING is one of the worst movies I have ever seen, from an all-categories standpoint. Dracula's been making babies with his hot vampire wives; trouble is, gosh-darnit, undead lovers beget undead children ("Of course," says Kate Beckinsale during the exposition). Here in Transylvania, you have a wide array of movie monsters to choose from in order to try to make these babies un-undead, by using Dr. Frankenstein's classic experiment (why not strap the babies to the cot and see what happens?). They try the werewolf, but dammit, he's just not Frankenstein's monster! The people of Transylvania are TOTALLY OK with Dracula's feeding frenzy as long as he only kills 1 or 2 a month, so they are quite distressed when Van Helsing takes the scene and tries to rid them of vampires forever ("Now he'll be killing for revenge!" stresses one citizen). Somewhere in here, Helsing gets bitten by a werewolf, and thank God Dracula has the cure, and Frankenstein's monster knows about it, so that he can tell Helsing later. Special effects, oh yes, but after LORD OF THE RINGS outclassed every special effects shot I have ever seen, these look as real as UFO's did in the 50's. Acting is based on the Sommers script, which is full of "Let's explain this for a second, oh shit! Vampires!" With all these monsters that Jonathan mentioned, there's hardly any attempt to infuse any genuine creepiness, and with Richard Roxburgh hamming it up as Dracula, you're DYING to see Tom Cruise's Lestat to show up and fucking kill him and become the REAL menace of the movie. I did have some hopes for this early on, but after watching the final trailer hundreds of times, I sort of got the feeling I was in for some crap. Beckinsale is hot, and much has been said about the fact she did UNDERWORLD last year, the vampires with guns vs. werewolves with guns movie that came out last September. She's better than this (and that). Hugh Jackman is too, I feel, but I have yet to see a movie with him in it that I was totally in love with, or liked in part because of him. The ultimate downfall is that there is much too much of an assault on the senses here, with too much stupidity mixed in.


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