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Summer Movie Flashback: Van Helsing

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2004
2004

VAN HELSING is a pretty cool idea for a horror-adventure type movie. The slayer of Dracula continues his saga, a supernatural expert who goes on to encounter other classic monsters like Mr. Hyde, the Wolf Man (or some werewolves, anyway), Frankenstein’s monster, and probly Blacula if they had made a part two. To make it extra fun he’s not just a doctor like in the book, now he’s a badass in a Solomon Kane hat, with an eccentric friar as his Q/Lucius Fox, building him preposterous weapons that fire stakes like bullets or have spinning saw blades or whatever. And this Van Helsing likes to swing around on ropes. And he gets bit by a werewolf so before he turns he has super hopping powers, like all wolves do. Wolves are known for their hopping.

Okay, admittedly some parts of the idea are not that cool. Also it turns out his name is Gabriel Van Helsing, not Abraham Van Helsing, and he actually has nothing to do with the character from the book. He did however apparently kill Dracula, but that was before Dracula was a vampire (I think), and Van Helsing (no relation) doesn’t remember it. Also he might be the angel Gabriel.

WRITER/DIRECTOR STEPHEN SOMMERS: Hey guys, I’ve had alot of fun doing these AMAZING The Mummy movies, but you know what I’ve always dreamed of is to make a movie about the character Van Helsing from Dracula, only the thing is it’s not about that character at all though, it’s about a different guy than that! Wouldn’t that be AWESOME?

UNIVERSAL PICTURES: My friend, you have yourself a god damn GREEN LIGHT!

You know what else would be a great idea would be if we chose some random shitty director, like say the guy who did THE ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN with Elijah Wood. And we give him, like, hundred million dollar budgets to keep making movies every couple summers, just to see what kind of stupid shit he comes up with. And then we keep pretending what he made was of a professional level of competence, just to totally fuck with the guy. Like, a real life TRUMAN SHOW. Everybody’s in on it. Funny stuff.

mp_vanhelsingDracula (Richard Roxburgh) is the super villain in this. He has his three brides, which is cool. In this version they keep sprouting CGI wings and morphing back and forth between pretty lady in a dress and naked bat monster. (Their dresses are part of their skin, or are also vampires, or… I don’t know.)

I guess these type of bats are not mammals, because at some point they laid thousands of slimy green egg sacs on the ceiling of Castle Dracula. This goes back to Roland Emmerich’s Hugely Misguided Rule of How to Make a Good Blockbuster: all big monsters must be replaced with a swarm of identical fake looking CGI monsters.

But the babies have some health problems that require the aid of Dr. Frankenstein’s breakthrough research in electricity. They die quickly, and Dracula knows that if he creates a full Monster Mash by capturing Frankenstein’s monster alive then somehow that means he can use the lightning tech to make the babies live and take over the world. Or whatever you do with those things, I mean who the fuck knows.

Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) works for the Vatican. I prefer rooting for the Mom & Pop vampire-slaying outfits like Blade and Whistler got going, but that’s okay. The corporate office in Rome sends Van Helsing to stop Dracula, he brings the friar guy (David Wenham), who provides “comic” relief in the tradition of other Sommers or Emmerich movies, like he’s a big scaredy cat the whole time, but he does manage to kill one bat monster or something so a pretty lady starts following him around and he gets laid. I guess Sommers was the one guy who saw THE FIFTH ELEMENT and said you know what, say what you will about it but that monk that kept fainting, that was a great idea.

Along the way they meet and team up with sexy badass Transylvanian princess Anna Valerious (Saturn Award nominee Kate UNDERWORLD Beckinsale). She’s able to help because Transylvanian horses are really fast. One dramatic conflict I genuinely like is that when they find Frankenstein’s monster (who never gets a name, but they’re polite enough not to call him “the monster” to his face) tells them they need to kill him to save the world, but Van Helsing won’t do it because he recognizes that he’s not evil and that he has a right to live this life that was given to him. And he stands by this even when the Vatican says otherwise.

The problem with this movie, and the reason I purposely skipped it 9 years ago, is Sommers. I wrote him off after THE MUMMY and I was right to do it. My views have softened since enjoying GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA, but if I’m gonna be honest with myself I kinda enjoy that in a condescending outsider art kind of way. It’s mindlessness and bad taste is most of its charm. This has some of the same unbridled ridiculousness, but his version of that works better on an army-men-and-ninjas toy commercial adaptation than on an homage to classic horror. That genre requires a certain sense of atmosphere and tone, and this is a director whose control of those things is about as precise as a guy trying to type fast wearing thick leather gloves.

This is subjective of course, but my beef with Sommers is that I think he has terrible god damn taste. I mean, on paper we’re into the same things – monster movies – but when you see his idea of a cool monster you realize it was all a big misunderstanding, we were talking about two totally different things. I was talking about Abraham Monster Movies, he was talking about Gabriel.

So Sommers goes through a bunch of the classic monsters and “re-invents” them to be less iconic and appealing. Out of manners I’m gonna start with the best, which is Mr. Hyde at the beginning. From what I’ve heard this scene didn’t go over well at the time, and they don’t bother to use his split personality or anything, but I say it’s better than the other ones in this movie. For some reason he’s a CGI character:

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And like everybody in this movie he likes to swing around on things like a monkey. That’s kind of the premise of this I guess: “what if there was a world where there’s monsters and everybody likes to climb on things and swing on ropes?” Even clunky old Frankenstein’s monster has a climactic sequence of swinging over a pit for several minutes holding onto a chain with one arm. It’s weird. Anyway, as stupid as Mr. Hyde here is I can’t think of another digital effect in the entire Stephen Sommers filmography that looks as technologically competent. Kind of reminds me of the giants in JACK THE GIANT SLAYER, a big rubbery cartoon character instead of the shiny abominations he usually prefers. The effects guys must’ve done this scene without running it past him.

Dracula is the worst. He’s a smarmy long-haired guy (sometimes with ponytail) and occasionally slides into a version of Lugosi’s accent, or Peter Lorre’s. There’s nothing cool or scary or seductive about him. A bad Dracula and a bad lead villain.

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The werewolves are stupid too. They’re all CGI, of course, showing off Sommers’ trademark how-the-fuck-did-he-have-ILM-and-a-big-budget-but-end-up-with-something-this-shitty style of visual effects.

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I might be okay with their inherent fakiness if they moved better, but Sommers prefers the weightless, constantly leaping approach to monster animation. This still is a rare standing-up-straight moment.

I do like the idea of the transformation sequences, where the wolf tears off his human skin to reveal fur beneath. So I give credit for that. But it should look better.

Then there’s Igor. He’s not computerized, but this is what they came up with for his look:

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Poor Kevin J. O’Connor, America’s favorite Paul Thomas Anderson/Stephen Sommers regular. He’s actually good casting for this character, but would look much better with less makeup.

The most frustrating is Frankenstein’s monster, ’cause I actually like his characterization here. This is a version inspired by the more eloquent monster of the book. In the prologue (black and white but over-the-top – must be a pretty fuckin big village to have that many angry villagers) he somehow makes it from the castle to the windmill, climbs to the top and screams “WHYYYYYYYY?” with a voice like an opera singer. It represents a poetic soul inside a grotesque body, a tragic figure who only wants to exist in a world that is too disgusted to let him. That includes me, because he fucking looks like this:

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Sometimes he wears a coat stitched together from multiple coats, as if this brilliant doctor was too stupid to figure out he could just sew him a bigger coat. He has orbs on his chest and head that glow green like some shitty off brand toy. He just looks stupid. I bet Sommers draws shitty thumbnails of these monsters, then an army of talented artists shrug and come up with their souped up versions of his, then he points to the two or three ugliest ones and tells them to combine them. His aesthetic is a junkpile, his frames crammed with ugly. If the individual elements look good, like a castle or something, his lack of composition’ll take care of it. Just pile some crap on. And when you’ve got too much now it’s time to dump a couple barrels of candles and cobwebs on top of all that shit.

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So this movie is shitty, but I dig the idea of it enough that I got a little involved by the end. If it was directed by somebody who could make a good looking movie I might’ve been into it. There is one scene I really enjoyed where Van Helsing is transporting the monster in a horse drawn carriage, and the bat ladies attack and knock it off a cliff but they need the monster alive so they chase after it and try to pull him out but then it crashes and explodes stakes into one of them because actually it was a decoy and the monster is safe inside a different carriage. “STAKES!” she screams, in case you are not familiar with what stakes look like and are wondering what those things are that are flying at her.

(I always heard about this scene as if a non-gas-powered vehicle somehow exploded like a car on CHiPs, which sounds hilarious. But I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be rigged with explosives. The science checks out.)

There’s another scene, better in idea than execution, where Van Helsing takes over for a trapeze artist at Dracula’s opulent Halloween masquerade ball, and the friar guy bumps a flame swallower to set Drac on fire. The whole scene has terrible compositing though. This must be how most movies look to my anti-CGI reactionary friends.

Man, I would love to love this movie, but I guess I just don’t see eye-to-eye with Sommers when it comes to what to put in front of said eyes.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, August 19th, 2013 at 11:21 am and is filed under Action, Fantasy/Swords, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

48 Responses to “Summer Movie Flashback: Van Helsing”

  1. I remember seeing this in the theater with a friend. About 30 minutes in, I went to the bathroom and debated about just bailing but decided it would be rude tomy friend. A few minutes later, he went to use the bathroom. After the movie, I found out that he was going through the same debate. If only we had synced up our pee schedule, one hour less of our lives would have been wasted.

  2. Wow, this has to be one of your funniest reviews ever, and I’ve been reading your sight for over a decade. Bravo.

  3. I actually like this one slightly better than either of THE MUMMYs, but that’s only because shitty werewolves are better than shitty mummies.

    This is the movie where I decided that I kind of hate Kate Beckinsale. Nothing she’s done since has dissuaded me.

  4. It’s pretty much Hugh Jackman’s BATMAN & ROBIN, isn’t it? I remember that shortly after it came out and everybody hated it, some people involved in making this horrible piece of shit kept talking in interviews about how the movie was marketed wrong, because according to them, they were making a parody of bad summer movies, but since the trailers made it look like a straight faced action adventure, audiences and critics got it all wrong.

  5. That Truman Show explanation makes a lot of sense. Glad we got a funny-entertaining GI JOE movie out of Sommers, but this VAN HELSING thing is so bad, it really should have irrevocably permanently ruined his career. Like, so very very bad. It made me angry & embarrassed for myself & my ticket-buying friend while we were in the theatre watching it, appalled at the shoddiness when we weren’t simply disappointed, and underwhelmingly disappointed at the visuals when we could have hoped to be overwhelmingly appalled.

    This film’s one redeeming feature, an accidental side effect really, was that on the ride home from the cinema my friend referred to it as “Van Hel-suck,” which inexplicably continues to make me laugh to this day.

  6. Wow, what a stinker this was. I’m usually willing to give any film a second chance, but there’s no way in hell I’ll ever watch this again.

    I’m a little surprised that Sommers doesn’t have a background in commercials. It’s usually the commercial directors who try to cram as much detail and information into a frame as possible, because they normally have an average of 30 seconds to communicate their message, but Sommers really isn’t very good at visual communication, so I guess he wouldn’t have had much of a career in advertising.

    Um… yeah, I have no idea how this guy keeps getting work. Maybe Vern’s Truman Show theory is true. It would explain a lot about Hollywood.

  7. I’ve sat through this film nearly one and a half times. But it has come as a surprise to read that he is not Van Helsing from the monster movies, that he might be the angel Gabriel. When is that bit covered? Not that I care, I watched this and wished I hadn’t. In fact, I don’t even remember Frankenstein’s monster being in it after the windmill scene.

    Also, Beckinsale’s accent was just terrible.

  8. So out of curiosity I checked Sommers’ IMDb profile to see what he’s up to now. Apparently he already finished a Dean Koontz adaptation starring Anton Yelchin, which doesn’t have a US release date yet, but got already got dumped straight to DVD in Hungary and is currently running in theatres in Finland and the Philipines. Wow.

  9. To start off with full disclosure, I have to admit to looking the first 2 MUMMY movies. I understand all the points people make about them being shitty, but they appeal to something inside of me that I don’t want to examine too closely. It is what it is. They aren’t the worst movie I like for inexplicable reasons.

    However, VAN HELSING has to be one of the worst movies I’ve ever paid money to see. I saw it opening weekend at the Cinerama in Seattle & the place was packed. The only enjoyable moment was when one of them was swinging on a rope, in the rain, & still caught a thrown syringe & the guy sitting behind me said, “Oh my fucking god.” I gotta say Vern, I was kinda hoping it was you.

    Do you all remember that it was greenlit for sequels, a shitload of merchandising & even maybe television, before it was ever released? It was unprecedented & I really hope at least one exec got his ass handed to him.

  10. Cinematic goatse. I fucking hate this movie.

  11. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 19th, 2013 at 1:19 pm

    The poster of Van Helsing before the release looked amazing. It had potential until we saw it moving and making noises.

  12. MaggieMayPie I swear I was there in the Cinerama, because that happened in our viewing as well! It was a relief to realize others in the theater were as appalled as we were. I still remember that moment fondly.

    And I remember all the buzz about merchandising at the time also. Ouch. I can’t imagine someone didn’t lose their job for it. I remember the attempted retcon regarding marketing too, and I guess it’s possible the studio though Sommers was making a different movie…maybe his inability to communicate visually clouded the issue. Really?

    I give Beckinsale a break because I like Underworld so much. Jackman is more on the edge for me. There was this and X-Men 3 (which kind of took the bloom off Wolverine for me, making the last two Wolverine movies devoid of any anticipation on my part–I’m still trying to forget XM3 and get back to liking Wolverine, but it’s a process). Anyway, back to Beckinsale and her awful accent in this one, sometimes you just gotta pay the bills, you know? Maybe she owed Sommers and this absolved her of the debt.

    Anyway, I hated this movie. A lot. And I loved this review. A lot. Highly entertaining, Vern. It actually gave me a soft spot for this show, because without the godawful badness, we wouldn’t get all the humor, right? (ok, it doesn’t quite make up for it, but time has dulled the pain)

  13. I gotta say, I absolutely loathed this movie at the time, but I’ve softened to it slightly since then. Paying money in the theater and expecting to see something cool was definitely a bad idea, but watching it as a hilariously misguided camp comedy that looks expensive enough to add an extra layer of comedy works pretty well. I’ll say this about Summers: I think he genuinely is a hyperactive, excited 6th-grader, and even though he’s completely incompetent in every imaginable way, his enthusiasm and lack of irony make his films a little easier to swallow, then, say, the UNDERWORLDS, which are at least equally terrible but much more dour.

  14. This is usually the movie I bring up when someone asks the worst movie I’ve ever seen. I remember this uncomfortable laughter in the theater the first five minutes of this movie. People watched Dracula on screen and every line the actor delivered was so bad that people were confused as to whether or not they were watching a comedy. I can’t think of anything I liked about this at all. Just terrible.

  15. I’ve still never seen this movie, and this review only leaves me with more questions. Why is he Gabriel Van Helsing and not the guy from the book? It can’t be a copyright issue because Dracula is public domain, right?

    I’ve seen a lot of people point to that exploding carriage as a legendary moment in blockbuster stupidity, so I’m a little disappointed to learn it’s just garden-variety dumb and not ludicrous physics-defying idiocy. If it was the latter I might have given it the benefit of the doubt as some misplaced action-movie satire.

    I don’t think ol’ Frank looks that bad to be honest, except for the orbs. Looks like Sommers played too many video games and is convinced that the bad guys need to have flashing weak points. Otherwise where will the good guys know where to hit for massive damage?

  16. I think the reason he was Gabriel was a copyright issue. If they’d used the character from the book it is public domain and anyone would have been able to make toys / movies featuring him. If they tweak it a bit they own the copyright.

  17. james: Is that how it works? Surely there’s nothing stopping The Asylum from putting out ABRAHAM VAN HELSING starring some guy in a funny hat. I’m surprised they haven’t already. They’re probably sitting on it, waiting for the Tom Cruise reboot.

  18. I liked The Mummy. It was really well done, it was a popcorn munching spectacle. It was bombastic and humorous. The casting was good, the effects were right, the music worked, the tone was spot on.

    It’s pop music you want to hate, but wind up tapping your leg to and humming along to nonetheless.

    http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-mummy-1999

    There is hardly a thing I can say in its favor, except that I was cheered by nearly every minute of it. I cannot argue for the script, the direction, the acting or even the mummy, but I can say that I was not bored and sometimes I was unreasonably pleased. There is a little immaturity stuck away in the crannies of even the most judicious of us, and we should treasure it.

    The sequel sucked and Van Helsing sucked, but Sommers: don’t listen to these sourpusses. You did a good job on The Mummy, it’s something to be proud of.

  19. gamers say this is like Castlevania: The Movie. any other nerds reckon its worth a watch on those grounds?

  20. On paper it’s like a CASTLEVANIA movie. The difference is just that a CASTLEVANIA movie has the potential to be good. (That reminds me, what happened to the movie in development? Last thing I heard was that Paul Not Thomas Anderson left the project and James Wan took over, but something tells me he might be a little bit busy at the moment.)

  21. I confess to liking the first two MUMMY movies, but give me a break, I was still a kid that liked adventure shit and there was nothing else like that coming out at that time (this was right before TOMB RAIDER and looooong before KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL), but I haven’t revisited them since though because I doubt they’d hold up

    however by the time VAN HELSING came out I was older and could tell that this would suck, so I skipped it

    if you guys want something awesome vampire related, check out the manga HELLSING, it features a reincarnated Dracula named Alucard who works for a British woman that dresses like a man (who’s a descendant of Abraham Van Helsing) and fights vampire Nazis who at one point invade London in their giant blimps and start ripping apart Londoners to shreds and then the Vatican’s secret vampire hunting army shows up and starts trying to kill both the vampires AND the Londoners because the leader of them hates those damn Protestants

    it’s hysterically violent, grim, offensive and in a word, fucking awesome

  22. oh, but I’ve just scratched the surface of the 100% proof insanity of that manga, did I mention that the soldiers of the Vatican’s vampire hunting army wear suits of armor complete with KKK like hoods? and that the Nazi vampires include a vampire woman with long hair, glasses and freckles who wields a magical musket that always hits it’s target no matter what and a catboy in a Hitler Youth uniform named Schrodinger (after Schrodinger’s cat)

    and the vampire Nazis are lead by a fat Nazi Major who was originally named Montana Max? (after the Tiny Toons character, yes really) and a sequence set in Rio involves Alucard ripping dozens of SWAT team members to gory shred and then fighting a guy while innocent bystanders get killed in the crossfire?

    seriously though, don’t let your fear of the Japanese stuff dissuade from experiencing it

  23. I saw this one when it came out, and thought it was awful…so much so that I haven’t rewatched it since. And the thing is, I actually enjoy the first Mummy movie. It’s a dumb pulp movie, but it’s entertaining enough that I’m okay with that, flawed sure, but I still enjoy it. This one though, it’s dumb, but not entertaining…the only thing I get out of it is that at least Jackman can look cool as Solomon Kane(and that Beckinsale is hotter in Underworld).

  24. ok, just one more thing, this is a SPOILER though so be warned, there’s also a character who’s a vampire hunting priest who at one point, to fight Alucard (who’s more or less unstoppable), pierces his own heart with one of the nails that nailed Jesus Christ to the cross, which turns him into a monster made out of thorns (because of course!)

    yes, really

  25. The Undefeated Gaul

    August 20th, 2013 at 12:37 am

    Sommers is not one of the great ones, obviously, but he’s not COMPLETELY incompetent. The guy made Deep Rising! Easy to forget that he once made a good movie, it’s so long ago, but he still did it.

    I also liked both his Mummy films and think his GI Joe movie was about a 1000 times better than Jon Chu’s was. Van Helsing is his worst and so shit that it simply cannot be defended by anyone, but I found one thing to like about it: it’s got a pretty good Alan Silvestri score!

  26. Silvermoons,werewolves and vampirebrides! What´s not to like about VAN HELSING? Sure,some carppy effects, but the monsters are enjoyable. And as Undefeated Gaul mentioned, the flick has a really good score.

    Also,Transylvania is a funny place. How the hell you can say shit like “Oh,Count Dracula,you scared me” like it was a cat jumping out of a closet kind of scare, when it should have been brown trousers time for everyone.

    However, even if i think Richard Roxburgh is underrated as an actor, I can´t approve of his emo-version of Dracula. Back to the wardrobe section and don´t come back until you found something better.

  27. The first half of the 00s were a pretty rough time for Richard Roxburgh, don’t you think? First: “Yay, I get roles in all these bug budget Hollywood movies!” but then they turn out to be M:I 2, THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, VAN HELSING and STEALTH.

  28. I caught the first twenty minutes of this movie on cable a number of years ago, but I just couldn’t follow through on it. I don’t think I’ll ever get around to watching the entire thing. But I had no clue that Sommers directed The Adventures of Huck Finn with Elijah Wood. I remember watching that as a kid, but I have no clue how good (or more likely) bad it is. What a strange Hollywood adventure Sommers has been on all these years.

  29. Oh, yeah, the score was pretty good, it sounded like the whole thing was done with an electric harpsichord.

  30. Ace Mac Ashbrook

    August 20th, 2013 at 9:59 am

    Griff: You just described a Van Helsing story that sounds even worse than this one.

  31. Hell no, this crazy Japanese Hellsing thing sounds awesome. I’ll have to check it out and hope it doesn’t disappoint.

    Hey, wasn’t there a Van Helsing animated movie that was released with this movie? Animated companion pieces were all the rage back then (like that Riddick anime that was released around the same time as Chronicles of Riddick). I guess those Animatrix shorts started that trend.

    Oh, Hollywood. Some lead, some follow.

    Hey, Griff, I requested some anime advice from you over in the Pacific Rim thread, if you’d be so kind. Thanks.

  32. I always get Roxburgh mixed up with Karel Roden.

  33. “Hey, wasn’t there a Van Helsing animated movie that was released with this movie? Animated companion pieces were all the rage back then (like that Riddick anime that was released around the same time as Chronicles of Riddick). I guess those Animatrix shorts started that trend.”

    yeah, I remember that trend, the only one that was worthwhile out of it though was the ANIMATRIX

  34. I just learned that there actually is a VAN HELSING 2!!!

    Well, not really. Some “clever” label re-re-re-released that David Carradine b-movie THE LAST SECT as VAN HELSING 2 over here. (Also some MMA movie was recently released as FIGHT CLUB 2 here in my country too.)

  35. Call me crazy but I like Stephen Sommers – I like both Mummies, (i seem to be the only one who liked the 2nd one more than the first), and I liked GI Joe alot. Sure it was stupid but it was exciting and big and epic and it seems like they crammed 4 hours of stuff into 2 hours and I’m not going to complain about that. He doesn’t seem to have the mean-spiritedness of Michael Bay and can shoot an action scene better. Most of the internet seems to like Deep Rising (I guess it’s to him what Even Horizon is to Paul W.S. Anderson) and people here have expressed fondness for Gunmen (which he wrote and is probably one of my all-time favorite movies).

    That being said, Van Helsing is terrible, easily his least enjoyable film – it’s obnoxious and loud and repetitive and uninvolving. When someone does the “it’s not supposed to be Shakespeare” defense of a bad movie, you can immediately point out this movie as a counterargument because nobody likes it and it encapsulates everything people hate about big Hollywood summer movies. I do get the weird feeling if I watched it again I might actually like it this time though.

    Also: wasn’t this originally supposed to be The Van Helsing Chronicles with Anthony Hopkins reprising his role from Bram Stoker’s Dracula? Kinda like how the Batman Returns Catwoman-spinoff mutated over the years into Halle Berry’s Catwoman?

  36. I have enjoyed every single Stephen Sommers movie I´ve seen. That is the truth. The worst sin a movie can commit is boredom and boring they are not. But they are certainly movies you can nitpick to death,that´s for sure.

  37. Stephen Sommers wrote GUNMEN? He has just gone up considerably in my estimation!

  38. This movie goes hand in hand with LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN in my opinion. They both have the misguided idea that they are way cooler than they really are, and they try to get a free pass on taking liberties with logic, physics, and a sensible plot by doing a half-ass wink at the audience. By pretending not to be serious they think they can get away with cinematic murder. They are like the asshole kid who taunts you every day and when you get pissed off at him he says “I was just kidding man, lighten up!”

  39. Yeah, but at least LXG works as an entertaining throwback to those cheesy 80s big budget fantasy movies, that we liked so much as kids. (And the movie is better than the comic, which had not much to offer outside of splatter and some clever literature quotes.)

  40. The LXG movie is better than the comic? Seriously? Shit, I think LEAGUE is one of Alan Moore’s lesser creations, especially the later books, but that is just fuckin’ bananas.

  41. Wow. I found LXG an incredibly dumb movie, but it did have some entertainment value(more than Van Helsing)…but better than the comic? Totally disagree. Although the later books did take a downtown…but still.

  42. No really, in my opinion the comic has absolutely no redeeming qualities. Even the mentioned clever literature quotes aren’t even that clever anymore on second reading, but feel more random. (“Hey, let’s have Fagin and his kid gang from OLIVER TWIST standing in the background in one panel, ha ha ha.”)

    The movie isn’t exactly “good” as in…well…the meaning of “good”, but it’s pretty entertaining in a late 90s TV show way and made me even like the characters and their interacton with each other enough, that I wish they would have made a sequel.

  43. I wonder what Vern is reviewing for summer 2008?

    Fun Fact: He never reviewed IRON MAN.

    I’m not saying anything, just the facts.

  44. You know this movie is in mental retardville the moment when the caption reads “Vatican City” and the story is set in the late 19th century. The Vatican City was created in the 1920s by a concordatta between the papacy and Benito Mussolini’s government. From then on the mlovie is just a pile of stupid shit one after the other. Not that the begining was any good, mind you.
    Also, Anna Valerious has to be the most useless and incompetent action girl in the history of cinema. She keeps getting her ass kicked by everybody she encounters and keeps needing rescuing.
    This movie is a total epic fail. Still, not as bad as any of the Abr… OK, i’m not going to say it.

  45. Turns out you guys are all wrong. He has a new movie out (or coming out, not sure which one) called Odd Thomas based on the Dean Koontz books. The trailer clearly says he is an acclaimed director so who are we to judge.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSfKE_zRxAk

  46. wow, they’re making another movie based on Dean Koontz?

  47. This is a bad movie, but I am all for your sequel/reboot idea of VAN HELSING: 1970 where Van Helsing’s descendent must hunt Blackula and his minions in the mean streets of NY. It could be like DEATH WISH 3 but the street gangs are all vampires.

  48. I hate this piece of shit. Cinematography by a bunch of hacks on crack!

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