Van HelsingMay 7, 2004
The notorious monster hunter is sent to Transylvania to stop Count Dracula who is using Dr. Frankenstein's research and a werewolf for some sinister purpose.
Release Year: 2004
Rating: 5.7/10 (94,513 voted)
Critic's Score: 35/100
Stars: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh
Van Helsing is in the world to rid all evil, even if not everyone agrees with him. The Vatican send the monster hunter and his ally, Carl to Transylvania. They have been sent to this land to stop the powerful Count Dracula. Whilst, here they join forces with a Gypsy Princess called Anna Valerious, who is determined to end an ancient curse on her family, by destroying the vampire. They just don't know how!
Count Vladislaus Dracula
Kevin J. O'Connor
Dr. Victor Frankenstein
(as Stephen H. Fisher)
Adventure lives forever.
Release Date: 7 May 2004
Filming Locations: Downey Studios – 12214 Lakewood Boulevard, Downey, California, USA
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $51,748,040
(9 May 2004)
Did You Know?
The place where Van Helsing and Anna fight Dracula's three wives is the same place where they filmed Frankenstein (1931)
The Wolf Man. The place is call the Court of Miracles and this place is also found at the studio tour at Universal Studios Hollywood.
When Anna and Velkan are fighting the werewolf at the beginning of the movie, there are about a dozen people helping them. Who exactly are these people, and where do they disappear to for the rest of the movie, when Anna could have used more of their help?
Dr. Victor Frankenstein:
It's alive. It's alive. It's alive!
Double-O Van Helsing, Superhero
First a word of warning. There are a number of people who would be best
advised to avoid Van Helsing. If you dislike cgi, if you're a purist,
if you're looking for something "realistic", or if you're looking for a
slower-moving, understated film that's a deep character study, you'll
more than likely hate this film.
Set around the turn of the 20th Century, Van Helsing features the
titular hero (Hugh Jackman) taking a break from his usual "monster
slayer" activities, which are commissioned by the Catholic Church, to
pursue a grand plot initiated by Dracula (Richard Roxburg) involving
the Frankenstein Monster (Shuler Hensley), the Wolf Man (Will Kemp),
and the two last surviving members of a Transylvanian family that has
long been battling the vampire.
Van Helsing is a fast-paced, computer graphics-laden
horror/adventure/fantasy film wherein Universal re-imagines its core
stable of classic horror characters. I actually like cgi, I'm not a
purist, I love the genres–I'm not looking for realism, and I love
fast-paced action-oriented thrill rides as much if not more than I love
As for the character remakes, Van Helsing becomes a slick
retro-Matrix-styled macho action hero, part James Bond/007, part
Indiana Jones, part Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a secret Catholic
Church order filling in for the Watcher's Council and the Bond "Q
Branch" combined. Dracula becomes a suave, scheming, mad scientist who
looks like a romance novel hero. Frankenstein's Monster becomes much
closer to Mary Shelley's depiction of an intelligent, loquacious,
tormented, slapdash victim of a misguided doctor. And the Wolf Man,
when wolf, becomes a cgi generated over-sized, super-agile, hyperactive
beast. That should already turn off all of the purists.
The look of the film is lush, with lots of unusual point of view shots,
exotic locations and computer-generated environments. CGI is used
extensively for the human characters in the film as well as the
monsters–it's frequently employed to enable physics defying stunts and
amazing, far-ranging "computer camera" transitions. Van Helsing
provides a good argument for such extensive digital assistance, as many
of the visuals would be simply impossible to achieve through any other
means and substituting some of the creatures with mechanicals,
animatronics, special effects makeup and the like would have caused the
film to go far over its already outrageous estimated budget of 160
The plot, while not deep on characterization, couldn't be more full of
events and action. Combined with the extravagant visuals and quickly
changing, sprawling locations, the result is epic in scope.
Director/writer Stephen Sommers, who was also responsible for remaking
the image of another classic Universal character in The Mummy (1999)
and The Mummy Returns (2001) (probably the reason the Mummy is not
present in here), begins Van Helsing in a black and white scene that
wonderfully recreates the feel of the James Whale-lensed Frankenstein
films, including referencing a number of shots, scenes and characters
from those classics.
After the titles, we move into a color-filled world ala The Wizard of
Oz while we're treated to a brief character-establishing scene of Van
Helsing battling Mr. Hyde in the bell tower of Notre Dame. Sommers then
quickly whisks us away to the Vatican, where Van Helsing receives his
This whirlwind beginning can be almost overwhelming–it certainly is
visually–and it takes a moment to get up to speed and catch our
breath, but once we settle into the town square of Transylvania, we're
enraptured by the story and the pacing reaches a more sustainable
level. Although fantastical at heart, the performances from the
principle cast members help anchor the film in "reality". Jackman, Kate
Beckinsale, Roxburgh, Henley and David Wenham all turn in nuanced
performances that imply the depth of character that the film does not
have the time to fully explore.
The intense action throughout the film combined with the cgi and
spectacular sweeping camera moves often gives Van Helsing a feel
somewhere between a comic book film and a video game. That fact might
turn some viewers off, but as innovative, suspenseful, exciting filmic
art, this is years ahead of most other recent releases. In fact, the
sophisticated technological wizardry and entrancing epic storytelling
is somewhat reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings films, which makes me
wonder just what other viewers see in those to enable them to
consistently sit high on the IMDb Top 250 list while Van Helsing
struggles to attain a slightly above average rating. Perhaps Van
Helsing deserves a more tempered first or second viewing from those who
have summarily dismissed it due to unjustified
expectations/preconceptions. This really is an outstanding film that at
least deserves to be appreciated on a technical level, and should be
easy enough to enjoy for its action-oriented storytelling prowess as