Van Helsing (2004)
Main cast: Hugh Jackman (Gabriel/Van Helsing), Kate Beckinsale (Princess Anna Valerious), Richard Roxburgh (Count Vladislaus Dracula), David Wenham (Carl), Shuler Hensley (Frankenstein's Monster), and Kevin J O'Connor (Igor)
Director: Stephen Sommers

Words cannot describe how bad Van Helsing is. I know that I cannot expect this movie to contain any decent storyline, but I strongly suspect that writer and director Stephen Sommers must have written this story when he was eight and was more keen on copying the horror movies he enjoyed to be bothered by inconveniences like logic or even coherence. Van Helsing starts out pretty enjoyable but by the time the credits roll, I am inundated by too many convenient plot loopholes, really dumb actions from the main characters, and enough bad and exaggerated accents to cheese me off good time.

The only bright spark here is that Hugh Jackman looks good playing a special-agent like Van Helsing who is an operative of a covert group formed of various religious figures to combat the forces of Evil. His latest mission sends him to Transylvania where he must aid the Gypsy princess Anna Valerious in her quest to destroy Count Dracula before Dracula destroys her and ends the line of the Valerious. See, Dracula was an ancestor of the Velerious clan and a Valerious forefather had vowed that none of his family will enter Heaven if Dracula isn't killed. So if Anna, the last of the Valerious, dies, the whole family will be roasting happily in Purgatory for all time.

If Anna is any indication of how the Valerious folks are though, I'm not surprised that they drop like flies. It is bad enough that Anna has no idea how to kill Dracula, she's the kind of heroine who cannot defend herself and who does many impulsive nonsense that necessitates her rescue by Van Helsing. But I really do not know just what it is with Kate Beckinsale's ridiculous accent. All I know is that she sounds so much better when placed side by side with Richard Roxburgh's Dracula, who is so over-the-top cartoonish that he comes off more like a Bugs Bunny villain than a genuine monster to be feared.

I may enjoy Sommers' putting everything from the Frankenstein Monster to Edward Hyde to werewolves into his story, but I cannot overlook the ridiculous overreliance on coincidences and deus ex machina plot devices to carry the story. Some of the things in this movie are quite ridiculous, such as Dracula keeping a treasured item that can save his life far, far away from him instead of keeping it close to him at all times. Worse, this is an item that Van Helsing needs after conveniently encountering an accident that miraculously bestows on him the ability to kill Dracula! And this he knows because his assistant, Carl, stumbles upon the secret when no one else can, just by discovering a secret latch in the Valerious mansion that is just impossible to remain undiscovered for three hundred years. And wait until you hear the magic password that guards the secret entrance to Castle Dracula. I find it improbable that no desperate Valerious has never accidentally opened the secret doorway by uttering the same desperate plea to God that is the password, or that none of the Valerious idiots could remember that their Valerious forefather left the Very Important Piece of Parchment that Holds the Password with Van Helsing's supervisors, or worse, this forefather somehow forgot to inform his family members where he had put the parchment.

Even if the story is putridly dumb, I may still enjoy the movie if the characters, especially Anna, aren't acting like idiots on an imbecile rampage. I have fun when Van Helsing takes on Edward Hyde early on in the movie, even if I'm puzzled as to why a French policeman is yelling at Van Helsing in English, but the moment Van Helsing luckily stumbles onto Anna the moment he lands in Transylvania to the Very Stupid Ending, Van Helsing is a black hole of rubbish plotting. It's probably just as well that the movie doesn't even try to explain who the amnesiac Van Helsing really is.

Hugh Jackman, thanks for the shirtless scenes in the last half hour of the movie, but can we stop with all these bad movies, please? How about some dramas? Or a decent comedy? Please just stop with Van Helsing and other bad movies of this sort. There's only so much I can endure in the name of unreasonable fangirlishness.

Rating: 38

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