Monday, October 25, 2004

Wan Helsing

Talk about typecasting. As the dreary and too-long Van Helsing labors toward its conclusion, Hugh Jackman, whom you may recall played Wolverine in two X-Men movies, gets all hirsute and turns into, well, a werewolf.

At one point, Van Helsing actually howls at the moon. I think that was probably in the script, though Jackman may have been expressing his regret at agreeing to appear in this piece of crap. Few things are more frustrating than a big-budget, FX-laden thriller that plods dully along for two-plus hours; by the time VH ended, I was calculating what I could have done with the 132 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. Writer/director Stephen Sommers throws elements of horror, sci-fi, fantasy, religion, and camp into his blender, but instead of a smooth and delicious puree, the result is a chunky mess of badly contrasting flavors. Worse, it's wicked boring.

As the title character, Jackman gives it a game performance, but the uneven script allows his considerable charm to sneak through only occasionally. Sommers, who helmed The Mummy so ably, offers a confusing mishmash of a film here, and without someone as offbeat as Brendan Fraser to set the pace, the actors stumble their way along. Jackman and David Wehnam, his little sidekick, wink their way through the film, but Kate Beckinsale mistakenly plays it straight away, only with a weird Eastern European accent. As Dracula, Richard Roxburgh channels his inner cheese and delivers an out-of-place performance lifted straight from Adam West-era Batman.

And what on earth is the lovely and talented Beckinsale doing in this piece of crap? She went from promising Indie It Girl (Cold Comfort Farm, The Last Days of Disco) to Just Another Blockbuster Babe (Pearl Harbor, Serendipity) in about 30 seconds flat. In Van Helsing she doesn't even look like herself -- buried underneath layer after layer of makeup, she is completely and sadly generic.

Which is, perhaps, an apt description of the entire movie. A lot of folks cashed some very impressive checks in making it, a disquieting thought to anyone who ponied up nine bucks to watch Jackman go to the dogs.


At October 26, 2004 at 1:02 PM, Blogger Wyatt Earp said...

Beckinsale - hottest actress . . . EVER! - is actually pretty good in Underworld if you take the movie for what it is. It is another FX-laden thriller, but makes VH look like the poo that it is. It also doesn't hurt that Kate runs around in a leather bodysuit for the entire film. Yummy!

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