Van Helsing (film)
Van Helsing is a 2004 American period action horror film written and directed by Stephen Sommers. It stars Hugh Jackman as vigilante monster hunter Van Helsing, and Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious. The film is an homage and tribute to the Universal Horror Monster films from the 1930s and '40s (also produced by Universal Studios which were in turn based on novels by Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley), of which Sommers is a fan.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stephen Sommers|
|Written by||Stephen Sommers|
|Based on||Van Helsing by Bram Stoker|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$300.3 million|
The eponymous character was inspired by the Dutch vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing from Irish author Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. Distributed by Universal Pictures, the film includes a number of monsters such as Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, Mr. Hyde and werewolves in a way similar to the multi-monster movies that Universal produced in the 1940s, such as Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula.
Despite mostly negative reviews, the film grossed over $300 million worldwide.
In 1887 Transylvania, Doctor Victor Frankenstein creates a monster with the aid of Count Dracula, who reveals that he intends to use the creature for his own evil plans. Dracula kills the doctor as a mob of villagers storms the castle. His assistant Igor escapes, but the villagers chase the monster as he carries his father's body to an old windmill and set it ablaze. The villagers are scared off by the appearance of Dracula and his brides, who witness the monster and the doctor's research apparently destroyed by the fire.
One year later, after killing the elusive Mr. Hyde at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, monster hunter Van Helsing returns to the Vatican in Rome. He learns that his next mission is to destroy Dracula and his amnesia is penance for unremembered sins that cause nightmares. He is tasked with helping the last of an ancient Romanian bloodline, Velkan and Anna Valerious, who must kill Dracula so that their ancestors may enter Heaven. Carl, a friar, provides Van Helsing with aid and weapons and is to accompany him. In Transylvania, Velkan is apparently killed during an attempt to trap and kill a werewolf, and Anna is attacked by Dracula's brides shortly after Van Helsing's arrival. He saves Anna and kills Marishka, one of the brides, but as the last of her line, Anna becomes more determined to kill Dracula. In order to protect her, Van Helsing knocks her out to prevent her from leaving. She awakens that night and encounters Velkan, who reveals Dracula has a dark secret, but to her horror, he becomes a werewolf, having been bitten by the original one earlier, and attacks. After she and Van Helsing track him to Frankenstein's castle, they discover that the vampires are attempting to give life to their born-dead children, using Velkan as the source of the power. The children and brides attack the village while Van Helsing attempts to kill Dracula. Van Helsing, referred to as "Gabriel" by Dracula, realizes they had ties in the past. Van Helsing refuses Dracula's offer to return his memory and escapes. The experiment fails, and the vampire children die, but Velkan turns on Anna as he is consumed by his curse. Van Helsing and Anna escape together.
Taking shelter in the remains of the old windmill, Anna berates Van Helsing for his attempts, since they had already tried everything. The ground gives out and they encounter Frankenstein's monster in the cave beneath. Because he is not evil, Van Helsing cannot allow him to be killed, even though he claims to be key to Dracula's experiment. The werewolf witnesses the conversation and escapes to inform Dracula. Meanwhile, Carl discovers a painting that comes to life, depicting a werewolf and a vampire battling. Van Helsing plans to take the monster to Rome, where he can be protected The group travels by carriage to Budapest, luring the remaining brides into a trap and killing Verona with stakes in an empty carriage. The werewolf ambushes the real carriage and bites Van Helsing before being killed. Anna is captured by Aleera and held as a bargaining chip in exchange for Frankenstein's monster. They hide him in a crypt, but he is taken by the count's undead underlings while Van Helsing and Carl rescue Anna. Van Helsing, Anna and Carl managed to escape the vampires and upon returning to the Valerious' castle, Carl explains what he has discovered. Using an inscription on the map they open a doorway to the Dracula's real lair. After failing to free Frankenstein's monster from his imprisonment, he lets them know of a cure to lycanthropy that Dracula possesses, making Carl realize that the bite of the werewolf is the only way to kill Dracula. He and Anna take Igor to find the cure while Van Helsing goes to free Frankenstein's monster. Igor escapes as the final bride, Aleera, beats Anna and Carl tries delivering the cure to Van Helsing. Igor chases Carl across a bridge, but the monster's escape sends Igor falling to his demise. Frankenstein's monster saves Anna and urges her to help Carl and Van Helsing while he fights Aleera. Aleera escapes the monster and taunts Anna, resulting in Anna killing Aleera and arriving at the castle. As the werewolf, Van Helsing battles Dracula and, despite the vampire's attempts to reason with him, manages to bite him, causing him to dissolve into a skeleton. Anna bursts in, causing her to be attacked and accidentally killed by Van Helsing, but not before she delivers the cure. After narrowly stopping Carl from killing him, Van Helsing returns to normal, stricken with grief over what he has done.
At a funeral pyre, Van Helsing witnesses the spirits of Anna and her family ascending into the afterlife while Frankenstein's monster rows away on a raft out to sea. Van Helsing and Carl ride off into the sunset.
- Hugh Jackman as Gabriel Van Helsing, a legendary hunter of monsters.
- Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious, the last descendant of an ancient Romanian family.
- Richard Roxburgh as Count Vladislaus Dracula, the ruler of Transylvania.
- David Wenham as Carl, a friar of the Holy Order.
- Shuler Hensley as Frankenstein's monster
- Kevin J. O'Connor as Igor, a former servant of Frankenstein's, now working for Dracula.
- Will Kemp as Velkan Valerious, Anna's brother, who is turned into a werewolf.
- Elena Anaya as Aleera, the most sadistic of Dracula's brides.
- Alun Armstrong as Cardinal Jinette, Van Helsing's superior in the Holy Order.
- Silvia Colloca as Verona, the oldest of Dracula's brides.
- Josie Maran as Marishka, the third of Dracula's brides.
- Tom Fisher as Top Hat, a Transylvanian grave digger.
- Samuel West as Dr. Victor Frankenstein
- Stephen Fisher as Dr. Jekyll
|Van Helsing: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by|
|Released||May 4, 2004|
|Producer||Alan Silvestri, David Bifano|
Vivendi Universal Games published a Van Helsing video game for PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC and Game Boy Advance. The game follows a similar plot to the movie, has gameplay similar to Devil May Cry and the PS2 and Xbox versions feature the voice talent of many of the actors including Hugh Jackman.
Van Helsing also features in a slot game produced by International Game Technology. The game is available in real world casinos and online, though users in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the US are excluded from playing the online games.
The film opened at #1 in the weekend of May 7–9, 2004. The film grossed US$300,257,475 worldwide of which US$120,177,084 was from the US.
Van Helsing received mostly negative reviews by critics. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 24% of 224 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 4.2/10. The site's consensus calls the film a "hollow creature feature that suffers from CGI overload." Metacritic rated it 35/100 based on 38 reviews. Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale. James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave an extremely negative review, rating the film half a star out of four and calling it "the worst would-be summer blockbuster since Battlefield Earth". Furthermore, he wrote "There are quite a few unintentionally funny moments, although the overall experience was too intensely painful for me to be able to advocate it as being "so bad, it's good." ... Some, however, will doubtless view it as such. More power to them, since sitting through this movie requires something more than a strong constitution and a capacity for self-torture."
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle greatly disliked the film, writing: "Writer-director Stephen Sommers (...) throws together plot strains from various horror movies and stories and tries to muscle things along with flash and dazzle. But his film just lies there, weighted down by a complete lack of wit, artfulness and internal logic. ... What Sommers tries to do here is use action as the only means of involving an audience. So story is sacrificed. Character development is nonexistent, and there are no attempts to incite emotion. Instead, Sommers tries to hold an audience for two hours with nothing up his sleeve but colored ribbons, bright sparklers and a kazoo. What he proves is that this is no way to make movies." Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film 3 stars out of 4 stating that "At the outset, we may fear Sommers is simply going for f/x overkill, but by the end, he has somehow succeeded in assembling all his monsters and plot threads into a high-voltage climax. Van Helsing is silly, spectacular and fun."
|Saturn Award||Best Horror Film||Nominated|
|Best Costume Design||Gabriella Pescucci, Carlo Poggioli|
|Best Make-Up||Greg Cannom, Steve LaPorte|
|Best Special Effects||Scott Squires, Ben Snow, Daniel Jeannette, Syd Dutton|
|Best Music||Alan Silvestri||Won|
|Visual Effects Society||Outstanding Special Effects in Service to Visual Effects in a Motion Picture||Geoff Heron, Chad Taylor||Nominated|
Sommers expanded the story of Van Helsing in two direct spin-offs:
- The animated prequel titled Van Helsing: The London Assignment takes place before the main events of the film, focusing on Van Helsing's mission to try to stop Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from terrorizing London.
- There is also a one-shot comic book, published by Dark Horse Comics, titled Van Helsing: From Beneath the Rue Morgue, that follows Van Helsing on a self-contained adventure that occurs during the events of the film, just after the death of Jekyll/Hyde in Paris but before Van Helsing returned to Rome. In the adventure, Van Helsing deals with Doctor Moreau and his hybrid mutants.
In May 2012, Universal Pictures announced that they would be rebooting the film with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci as a two-year deal to produce a modern reimagining and Tom Cruise to star as the title character and also produce the film. Rupert Sanders is in talks to direct the film. Orci spoken to IGN that he has hinted that both The Mummy and Van Helsing reboots will have a shared universe. On November 11, 2015, Variety reports that Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer will write the reboot, but Cruise left the film. However, in 2016, Cruise signed back on to star in Kurtzman's The Mummy, which was released in theaters on June 9, 2017.
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