Thursday, May 04, 2006


RATING: *1/2
RUN TIME: 132 min.

VAN HELSING is the first big summer release of this year. I was expecting a lot from this movie. It had Hugh Jackman who is particularly suited for such kind of characters. And there is Stephen Sommers at the helm of affairs whose THE MUMMY movies I enjoyed a lot.
But unfortunately the movie disappoints. And there is only one reason for it. It is the problem that plagues all summer action blockbusters nowadays and VAN HELSING is no different. There is little or no character development and the action is just non-stop. In fact the 2 hrs runtime seemed more like 1 hour. There is just action, action and more action. As a matter of fact there are hardly any slow motion sequences in the whole movie. Many movies are plagued by too much in their plot and hence they drag. But it is the contrary with VAN HELSING as was the case with THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN. The problem is that it is incredibly fast. The plot at a supersonic speed not even giving time to the audience to digest what ahs transpired. The movie becomes a testament to the fact that light is faster than sound. There is just too much of action. The movie reaches a point where you just stop caring about what is happening.
I am particularly disappointed with the treatment of characters. Gabriel Van Helsing, Frankenstein and the Count Dracula are three of the most wonderful characters ever. But it is disappointing to the low levels these characters have been reduced to in the movie.
The way director Stephen Sommers was going with the Van Helsing character was very interesting. It is quite apparent that there was an effort to lend a dark, brooding characteristic to him much in the mould of Frank Miller’s Batman. But somehow that got lost in all the action and what remained was a caricature dishing out stupid one-liners and desperately trying to be cool. Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing does his best to bring something to the character much like his turn as Wolverine. But his efforts have been severely marred by pathetic character development.
Kate Beckinsale has absolutely zero screen presence. She is so ineffective that I can barely remember her character’s name. Particularly sticking to the eye was her ridiculous running. She obviously is unfit and that was quite visible. Her role in UNDERWORLD is similar and she has broken no new grounds.
Richard Roxburgh as Dracula is irritating. His presence along with his three wives is a brutal assault on the senses. They just keep shouting at the top of their voices making absolutely no sense.
The actions are good. But they are in no way memorable. Somebody please explain Mr. Sommers that a lot of special effects and a truck load full of action sequences don’t make a good movie. There is absolutely no creativity in the handling of these action scenes. Just a lot of them thrown around with a lot of money spent on them.
As in most of such movies the plot is non-existing. I cannot write even a single paragraph if somebody asks me to write the synopsis of the movie. It is just action, action and more action.
These are the movies that have discredited the summer action blockbuster fare. These are dumb movies and they should not be encouraged. Such movies have no character of their own apart from a few costly set-pieces thrown her and there.
The trick to a good movie is always its characters and how you handle them. Sadly most of the people at the helm of today’s summer action blockbusters are not realizing that.


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rahul said...

pls don degrade van helsing .... its a good movie. i and many other people enjoyed it for what it was..

jus dont dig too much. it was made for time-pass and jus pure entertainment.
u mentioned that there was no time given for audiences to transpire what? watch it twice .first time for the action. and then second time to get a clear picture. anyways the movie is watchable more than twice in my opinion...