Van Helsing (film)
|Directed by||Stephen Sommers|
|Written by||Stephen Sommers|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Budget||$160 million – $170 million|
|Box office||$300.2 million|
Van Helsing is a 2004 action gothic horror film written and directed by Stephen Sommers. It stars Hugh Jackman as 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 partially based on novels by Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley), of which Sommers is a fan.
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, aided by his assistant, Igor, and Count Dracula, creates a monster. Dracula kills Frankenstein, and as an angry, torch-bearing mob storms the Castle, the monster flees to a windmill with his dead creator cradled in his arms. The windmill burns down, apparently destroying the floor underneath the monster.
One year later, monster hunter Van Helsing kills Mr. Hyde after a brawl in Notre-Dame de Paris. Van Helsing pursues evil on behalf of the Holy Order, which has protected mankind “from time immemorial.” Van Helsing, who remembers nothing before he was found crawling up the steps of a church, hopes to earn pardon for his forgotten sins and thereby regain his memory.
At the Order's Vatican City headquarters, Cardinal Jinette gives Van Helsing a mission: Go to Transylvania, destroy Dracula and protect the two survivors of an ancient Romanian family, the Valerious. Their ancestor vowed that his descendants would kill Dracula, or spend eternity in Purgatory. He gives Van Helsing the corner of a Medieval painting that reads "In the name of God, open this door" and bears the same insignia as Van Helsing's ring.
In the Order's laboratory, men of every faith create devices to battle evil. Carl, an eccentric friar and inventor, equips Van Helsing and joins him. Meanwhile, In Transylvania, Anna and Velkan Valerious attempt to kill a werewolf controlled by Dracula, but it falls with Velkan into a deep river gorge.
A month later, Van Helsing and Carl arrive in the village and join Anna's fight with Dracula's brides – Verona, Marishka, and Aleera. Van Helsing slays Marishka. That night, Velkan, now a werewolf, visits Anna. When clouds cover the moon, he reveals that Dracula has a secret, but the moon emerges before he can finish. He flees to Castle Frankenstein, pursued by Anna and Van Helsing.
Dracula is duplicating Frankenstein's experiments to give life to his thousands of undead children, using Velkan as a conduit. He greets Van Helsing as an old acquaintance, "Gabriel".
Velkan succumbs to his curse. Dracula's children disintegrate. Van Helsing and Anna escape. In Anna's castle, Carl discovers a hidden painting of two knights fighting by moonlight. He reads the inscription aloud. It comes to life, and the knights transform into a vampire and a werewolf, at each other's throats.
Van Helsing and Anna find Frankenstein's monster in a cave. He is the key to Dracula's plans. En route to Rome, they are ambushed by the brides and Velkan, near Budapest. Verona and Velkan are killed, but Van Helsing is bitten. Aleera kidnaps Anna and offers to trade her for the monster at a masquerade ball. Van Helsing locks the monster in a crypt, but the undead retrieves him for Dracula. The masquerade ball is a vampires-only affair, but Van Helsing and Carl rescue Anna, destroying the vampires with Carl's light-emitting bomb.
At Anna's castle, Carl explains that Dracula is the son of Valerious the elder. When he was killed in 1462 by “the left hand of God”, Dracula made a covenant with the Devil and lived again. Valerious was told to kill Dracula and gain salvation for his entire family. Unable to kill his son, he imprisoned him in an icy fortress. The fragment the Cardinal gave Van Helsing reveals the way.
The captured monster tells them that Dracula possesses a cure for lycanthropy—because only a werewolf can kill him. Van Helsing, fighting the curse, sends Igor, Anna, and Carl to retrieve the cure, while he frees the monster. Unfortunately, the monster is struck by lightning, bringing Dracula's children to life. Dracula, spotting Van Helsing, transforms into a demonic form, fighting Van Helsing in werewolf form. Dracula tells Van Helsing “It was you that murdered me!”. Van Helsing rejects his offer to restore his memories and bites Dracula, destroying him and his children. Anna injects the cure; he kills her, howling in grief as he becomes human.
Van Helsing and Carl burn Anna's body on a cliff overlooking the sea. The monster departs by raft, and Van Helsing sees Anna's spirit reuniting with her family in Heaven. She smiles at him. 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 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 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
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 from 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 Roxburgh||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 2012, 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 poor 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.
- Abraham Van Helsing
- Universal Monsters
- Vampire films
- List of vampire films
- List of films featuring Frankenstein's monster
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (film)
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- The film does not remark on or explain the fact that the Cardinal and Carl give very different descriptions of Anna's family's predicament. The Cardinal says that her ancestor gambled with his family's salvation, staking their places in Heaven on their ability to kill Dracula. Carl says that Valerious was offered a very special benefit, a spiritual get-out-of-jail-free card: Kill Dracula, and the whole family gets to go to Heaven, without having to stop in Purgatory.
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- ""Spider-man 2" Big Winner at the 31st Annual Saturn Awards". Saturn Awards. Archived from the original on 2005-07-25. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
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- "BREAKING: Rupert Sanders Circling Universal's Tom Cruise-Starring VAN HELSING". Twich. 2012-10-10. Archived from the original on 2013-01-18. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
- Kroll, Justin (November 14, 2015). "Universal's 'Van Helsing' Reboot Enlists Scribes Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
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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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