Click here to return to the main site.

Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Van Helsing (2004)
(2021 Reissue)


Starring: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh and David Wenham
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £14.99


Certificate: 12
Release Date: 15 February 2021

“Why do you torment that thing?”
“It’s what I do.”

Van Helsing is a notorious monster hunter reluctantly dispatched by the Vatican, who don’t approve of his methods. After fighting and destroying the brutal Mr Hyde, he is sent to Transylvania where he struggles to kill one of the demonic brides of Dracula. The local peasants are less than grateful, however, as they know this action will bring down the wrath of the immortal master vampire. Only one young woman is prepared to fight for their safety and freedom – although she and Van Helsing don’t exactly see eye-to-eye.

This is a ‘revamped’ gadget-carrying action hero version of the Dutch vampire hunter from Bram Stoker’s classic gothic horror novel, Dracula. Right from the start, this film is frantically-paced and over-the-top. The special effects – of which there are plenty – are pretty much sound, apart from the Mr Hyde creature who appears somewhat cartoony and ripped from a CGI reimagining of a Disney fairy tale. The movie has two fundamental problems. One is the style or balance of the content, which can’t decide whether it wants to be a gritty action flick or a spoof of gothic horror in general. Consequently, it falls into the abyss between the two and becomes neither one or the other. The other main problem is the accents which, quite frankly, are diabolical. The worst by far is Dracula’s – although Kate Beckinsale’s fake tones are none too special either. In fact, this film is well known among certain circles for its levels of cringe-worthiness. If this had been meant as a comedy from the outset, perhaps these things wouldn’t be so noticeable.

The bottom line is that director Stephen Sommers’ vision for the film didn’t exactly reach fruition, but that’s no reason why you can’t sit back, disengage your brain and enjoy it, all the same. For anyone who likes a family-friendly action/horror movie, this is for you. With Dracula and his demonic brides, Mr Hyde, Frankenstein’s monster and a werewolf, it’s not as if there hasn’t been an attempt to pull out all the stops. There are plenty of stunts, humour (some of which is quirky, some of which is best forgotten), and the inspired character of the out-of-his-depth-but-eminently-useful friar – a sort of Q to Van Helsing’s Bond. The two big names here are Kate Beckinsale of the Underworld films (ironically, grittier and better choreographed films featuring the same genre content as this film), and Hugh Jackman who became much-loved as the no-nonsense Wolverine in Marvel’s X-Men films.

There are decent extras on this Blu-ray released by Fabulous Films: Feature Commentary by Director Stephen Sommers and Editor/Producer Bob Ducsay; Feature Commentary by Richard Roxburgh, Shuler Hensley and Will Kemp; Bloopers; Van Helsing – The Story, The Life, The legend; Track the Adventure; You Are In the  Movie!; Evolution of a Legacy; The Masquerade Ball Scene “Unmasked”; The Art of Van Helsing; and Monster Eggs. Something quite special happens while watching this film. After the initial reaction of the aforementioned moments, you find yourself getting used to and accepting the format – and, dare I say, actually enjoying it.


Ty Power

Buy this item online