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 a homage and tribute to the Universal Horror Monster films from the 1930s and 1940s (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|
by Bram Stoker
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$300.2 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 (and other Vampires), Frankenstein's monster, Duergar, 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, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, with help from his assistant Igor and Count Dracula, successfully creates a monster. Dracula, a vampire, kills Frankenstein to use the creature for his own purposes. As an angry mob storms Castle Frankenstein, the monster flees to a windmill with his dead creator. The mob burn down the windmill, apparently destroying the monster.
One year later, monster hunter Van Helsing kills Mr. Hyde after a brawl in Notre-Dame de Paris. Van Helsing suffers from amnesia, slaying evil on behalf of the Vatican City, hoping that he will earn redemption for forgotten sins. He is tasked by Cardinal Jinette to go to Transylvania and destroy Dracula. He must also protect the last members of an ancient Romanian family, the Valerious, whose ancestor vowed that his descendants would kill Dracula, or fall into Purgatory. He receives a torn parchment, reading "In the name of God, open this door" in Latin.
Van Helsing travels to Transylvania, accompanied by Carl, an eccentric friar and inventor. Anna and Velkan Valerious attempt to kill a werewolf controlled by Dracula, but both it and Velkan fall into a river. Van Helsing and Carl arrive in a village, where they and Anna are attacked by Dracula’s three brides – Verona, Marishka, and Aleera. Van Helsing slays Marishka. Anna agrees to work with Van Helsing, but encounters Velkan, now cursed to become a werewolf during a full moon.
The two follow Velkan to Castle Frankenstein, now used by Dracula in an attempt to duplicate Dr. Frankenstein’s experiments to give life to his undead children, using Velkan as a conduit. While Anna tries to rescue Velkan, who succumbs to his curse, Van Helsing confronts Dracula, who expresses familiarity with Van Helsing, addressing him as “Gabriel” and offering to return his memories to him. Van Helsing and Anna flee the castle, Dracula discovering that his experiment has failed. Carl witnesses a painting come to life, depicting two knights respectively transforming into a vampire and a werewolf.
Van Helsing and Anna reach a deep cave below the destroyed windmill, where they meet Frankenstein’s monster, who is the true key to fulfilling Dracula’s plans. Van Helsing opts to shelter the monster in the Vatican. Just outside Budapest, the group are ambushed by the brides and Velkan. Verona and Velkan are both killed, but not before the latter bites Van Helsing, cursing him to become a werewolf. Anna is kidnapped by Aleera, who arranges with Van Helsing to trade her for the monster. Van Helsing locks the monster within a crypt, but he is captured by Dracula’s undead horde. Van Helsing and Carl save Anna, using a solar-based bomb created by Carl to destroy the vampires.
Returning to the Valerious family's castle, Carl explains that Dracula is, in fact, the son of Anna’s ancestor, imprisoned within an icy fortress, hidden behind a large walled map of Transylvania. Using the torn parchment, Van Helsing opens the door, finding Dracula’s fortress. The captured monster informs Van Helsing that Dracula possesses a cure for lycanthropy; Carl realizes that only a werewolf can kill Dracula. Capturing Igor, Van Helsing sends him, Anna, and Carl to retrieve the cure, while he frees the monster. As he does so, the monster is struck by lighting twice, bringing Dracula’s children to life. Dracula, spotting Van Helsing, transforms into a demonic form, fighting Van Helsing in werewolf form. Aleera and Igor are both killed as Anna and Carl retrieve the cure. Following a fierce skirmish, Dracula then reveals to Van Helsing that it was he who murdered him. Dracula offers to restore all of Van Helsing's memories but he declines stating that some things are better left forgotten. Eventually, Van Helsing kills him and his children by biting Dracula’s throat, but accidentally kills Anna as she delivers the cure.
Van Helsing and Carl host a funeral for Anna overlooking the sea, where the monster departs by boat, as he witnesses Anna’s spirit reuniting with her family in Heaven, freed of their vow. Together, Van Helsing and Carl ride off on their next adventure.
- 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 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 and youngest 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 second oldest of Dracula's brides.
- Tom Fisher as Top Hat, a Transylvanian grave digger.
- Samuel West as Dr. Victor Frankenstein
- Stephen Fisher as Dr. Jekyll
- Robbie Coltrane as the voice of Mr. Hyde
|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, 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 earned $51 million at #1 during the opening weekend of May 7–9, 2004. The film eventually 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 226 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 4.28/10. 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|
|Stinkers Bad Movie Awards||Worst Film||Nominated|
|Worst Actress||Kate Beckinsale|
|Worst Female Fake Accent|
|Worst Male Fake Accent||Richard Roxburg||Won|
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 returns 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. In October of 2018, Rupert Sanders entered early negotiations to direct the film. By November 2015, Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer signed onto the project as co-screenwriters, though Cruise left his role with the film. However in 2016, Cruise was cast to appear in Kurtzman's The Mummy, which was released in theaters on June 9, 2017. Following the less-than-expected critical and financial reception to the film, Universal restructured their plan for rebooted adaptations of their Classic Monsters to be stand-alone in nature.
By December 2020, it was announced that the reboot was back in development. Julius Avery will serve as director, in addition to doing a rewrite of an original script by Eric Pearson. James Wan will serve as producer. The project will be a joint-production venture between Universal Pictures and Atomic Monster Productions.
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- Kroll, Justin (January 25, 2019). "'Invisible Man' Finds Director, Sets New Course for Universal's Monster Legacy (EXCLUSIVE)".
- Kroll, Justin (December 1, 2020). "Universal And James Wan Tap 'Overlord' Director Julius Avery To Direct New 'Van Helsing' Movie". Deadline. Retrieved December 1, 2020.
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