For those of you who saw The League and were baffled at it's sheer stupidity can be safe in the knowledge that it is possible to make an even worse action/adventure movie.
I should point out that this is my first foray into the world of Van Helsing so I come at it from purely a cinematic stand point. Everything that makes me cringe about hollywood is in this movie.
Starting with the characters. We have the dark, mysterious Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman). A rebel with a cause who's destined to be hated by the people while he secretly protects them. Yawn. On his adventures he takes with him Carl (David Wenham), the young friar who makes our hero's weapons and gadgets. He's a late 19th century Q, who is both nervous and annoying, yet you just know he will get his chance to prove his bravery. Yawn. Sent to the horrific Transylvania Van Helsing meets Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale), the pretty goth, who has vowed to slay Dracula to save her ancestors from eternal torment. She follows the similar hollywood stereotype of tough woman battling against the odds, clearly out of her depth, until the manly hero arrives to show her how it's done. She's kind of like Buffy the Vampire slayer but poorly acted and having never actually killed a vampire. So, pretty shit really. Yawn squared.
Ve have Coont Dwacular (Richard Roxburgh). The count, with the worst accent ever seems unable to decide whether he's supposed to be camp, deranged or a genius. In the end he's more of a cross between Captain Kirk and Dr Evil. A beautiful mixture of ham and eeeeeviiiiiiiiilll, muahahahahaha. Oh and did I mention the accent?
Most of the characters talk like they were rejected in auditions for the "I vant a viscount" adverts. Pure stereotype, pure insult. But clearly this is how americans see anyone from eastern europe. Meanwhile the ever so manly Van Helsing can't seem to decide between an english accent and an american one. Half way through the film I discovered that the pattern was english accent when he was just reading his lines and american when he had to try to act. Clearly not a good multi-tasker.
So to the story… Dwacular is trying to bring life to his thousands of spawn which resemble the nasty little creatures in Galaxy Quest after a can of red bull. Dwacular hatches an eeeeeevvvviiiiiiiiiilllllllll plan to achieve this, only to be stopped at every turn by a mixture of bad luck, stupid henchmen and our hero, big bad, Van the Man.
Van is sent by his secret organisation nestled deep under the Vatican (kind of like MI6 but with God on their side), to assist the non-Buffy in killing Dwacular. Along the way we meet Frankenstein and his monster, The Wolfman and Transylvanias version of santas flying sleigh.
In truth that's all there is to the story. It follows the similar hollywood pattern of early conflict to introduce the characters, followed by a dash of story and another battle in which the good guys lose. All hope seems lost until our heroes work out something trivial and race to the rescue and the innevitable final battle. What happens there I leave a mystery but if you choose to watch the film you will quickkly work out who will live and die. The characters and story are so formulaic that the film becomes a bore within 30 minutes.
The effects (of which there are too many) are impressive and that's about it. Even the music failed to inspire me.
This truly is the worst film of the year so far. I was gonna give it a 2, but to be honest such a waste of valuable hours in my life does not warrant such a high mark.
Van Helsing - 1/10
Solution - Kate Beckinsale should go back to being in British dramas about firemen. David Wenham should stop following the Bloom and Mortensen school of 'take any script that comes along'. Richard Roxburgh should move to panto and 'Van the Man' Hugh Jackman should be given a lifetime achievement award by the Academy as then maybe he'll retire, and people will stop talking about how this man is a good actor. He isn't. He is appalling.