Van Helsing (film)

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Van Helsing
Van Helsing poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Sommers
Written byStephen Sommers
Based on
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyAllen Daviau
Edited by
Music byAlan Silvestri
Production
companies
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • May 7, 2004 (2004-05-07)
Running time
131 minutes
CountriesUnited States[2]
Czech Republic[1]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$160 million – $170 million[3][4]
Box office$300.2 million[3]

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.

Plot[edit]

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.[5] 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”,[6] Dracula made a covenant with the Devil and lived again. Valerious was told to kill Dracula and gain salvation for his entire family.[7] 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.

Cast[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

The film's original soundtrack was composed by Alan Silvestri.

Merchandise[edit]

Video game[edit]

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.

Slot games[edit]

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.[8]

Reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

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.[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Van Helsing received mostly negative reviews from critics.[9] 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."[10] Metacritic rated it 35/100 based on 38 reviews.[11] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[12] 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."[13]

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."[14] 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."[15]

Accolades[edit]

Award Subject Nominee Result
Saturn Award Best Horror Film Nominated[16]
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[17]
Visual Effects Society Outstanding Special Effects in Service to Visual Effects in a Motion Picture Geoff Heron, Chad Taylor Nominated[18]
Stinkers Bad Movie Awards Worst Film Nominated
Worst Actress Kate Beckinsale
Worst Female Fake Accent
Worst Male Fake Accent Richard Roxburgh Won[19]

Spin-offs[edit]

Sommers expanded the story of Van Helsing in two direct spin-offs:

Reboot[edit]

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.[20][21] In October 2012, Rupert Sanders entered early negotiations to direct the film.[22] By November 2015, Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer signed onto the project as co-screenwriters, though Cruise left his role with the film.[23] However, in 2016, Cruise was cast to appear in Kurtzman's The Mummy, which was released in theaters on June 9, 2017.[24] 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.[25]

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.[26]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Van Helsing". www.filmcommission.cz (in Czech). Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Van Helsing (2004)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
  3. ^ a b c "Van Helsing". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  4. ^ "Van Helsing (2004)". The Numbers. Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  5. ^ In a tribute to the Wolfman films, the words are a close quotation: “Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the moon is shining bright...”
  6. ^ "GABRIEL - JewishEncyclopedia.com". jewishencyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2021-07-11.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "IGT Slots Blocked Territories". Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  9. ^ Wloszczyna, Susan (2004-05-10). "Marketing goes to heroic measures". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-10-15.
  10. ^ "Van Helsing". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  11. ^ "Van Helsing". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-10-15.
  12. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com.
  13. ^ Berardinelli, James. "Van Helsing". ReelViews. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  14. ^ LaSalle, Mick (May 7, 2004). "'Van Helsing' a monstrosity of a movie". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (May 7, 2004). "Van Helsing". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
  16. ^ "NOMINATIONS FOR 31ST ANNUAL SATURN AWARDS ANNOUNCED". Film Threat. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  17. ^ ""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.
  18. ^ McNary, Dave (2005-01-10). "Spidey pic catches 6 f/x noms from VES". Variety. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  19. ^ "Stinkers Bad Movie Awards - 2004". The Stinkers. Archived from the original on 4 May 2007. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  20. ^ Kroll, Justin (2012-05-02). "Orci, Kurtzman sign two-year Universal deal". Variety. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
  21. ^ "Universal Signs Kurtzman and Orci; Pair Takes On 'The Mummy' and 'Van Helsing'". deadline.com. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ Kroll, Justin (November 14, 2015). "Universal's 'Van Helsing' Reboot Enlists Scribes Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
  24. ^ Kroll, Justin (November 11, 2015). "Universal's 'Van Helsing' Reboot Enlists Scribes Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  25. ^ Kroll, Justin (January 25, 2019). "'Invisible Man' Finds Director, Sets New Course for Universal's Monster Legacy (EXCLUSIVE)".
  26. ^ 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.

External links[edit]