Review by Rosie
Director: Stephen Sommers
Rating: Imperial Star Destroyer
If the name sounds familiar, it's because a Van Helsing appeared in the Bram Stoker story Dracula. In fact, several classic monsters of the horror genre -- namely Dracula, Dr. Frankenstein, Frankenstein's monster, and even Igor -- appear in the opening sequence of the film.
This sets up Van Helsing's appearance in the next sequence. Armed to the teeth, he is tracking yet another monster, Mr. Hyde (voiced by Robbie Coltrane -- Hagrid in the Harry Potter films), by the trail of bodies he leaves across Paris. The trail of corpses leads to a confrontation between Hyde and Van Helsing atop the towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Van Helsing prevails, but the gendarmes on the ground who arrive to find Dr. Jeckyll dead on the ground brand Van Helsing a murderer and he must flee.
He goes to Rome where it is revealed that he is a field operative for a secret order within the Church whose mission it is to fight evil in its many forms throughout the world. He receives his next assignment, which is to protect the last two heirs of a royal gypsy family who have vowed to destroy Dracula. In preparation for this new mission, Van Helsing walks through a medieval version of a James Bond-style Q's weapons lab. He also recruits the assistance of his friend Friar Carl (the Q character, portrayed by David Wenham -- Faramir in Lord of the Rings). Carl also adds a touch of comic relief.
Upon arriving in Romania in the village at the foot of Castle Frankenstein, Van Helsing and Carl manage to prove themselves to the villagers by fending off an attack by Dracula's three brides, fearsome creatures all.
Not giving away the entire story here, it's time to actually offer my review. The cast were very well chosen and completely inhabited their characters. David Wenham as Carl was particularly funny to watch. From the moment the film started, the action never let up. I liked that the opening sequence in Frankenstein's castle was done in black and white like a true classic horror film. Kudos to director Stephen Sommers for that. I am generally not a horror film fan, but this one drew me in immediately.
Now, that is not to say I wasn't cowering with my hands over my face during the scary parts. I was -- a lot! The special effects were very impressive and absolutely added to the intensity of the film without detracting from the story being told. My recommendation: Don't see this film alone! ;)
Movie poster image from www.imdb.com
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