The one name they all fear
Kevin J. O'Connor
Running Time: 132 minutes
UK Certificate: 12a
Country: United States
Popular culture is littered with celebrated Vans: Van Morrison, Van Basten, Van Der Valk, van rental theyve all earned their rightful place in the adoring eye of Joe and Josephine Public. Now, at last, its time for a new pretender to stake his claim for a place alongside those all-time greats: Van Helsing (and no, thats not the first stake pun youll get for your money if youre planning to read on).
A trenchcoat-wearing and devilishly-handsome hardcase employed by the Vatican to teach all manner of monsters a lesson, Van the Man (Hugh Wolverine Jackman), careers around late 19th Century Europe making mincemeat of more gothic greats than you can shake an unnecessarily large crossbow at. But his biggest challenge yet waits in Transylvania, and no its not the Cheeky Girls. Its something much, much worse. Well, I say much, much worse. What I mean is, its probably about the same.
The bad egg in question is our old blood-sucking bigamy-loving pal Dracula (a camp-as-Christmas Richard Roxburgh), whos causing all sorts of problems for local toff Anna (a predictably ravishing Kate Beckinsale) and her rapidly-diminishing family. Of course, ol Dracster didnt count on our man Van popping up to lend a hand big mi-stake (told you).
Director Stephen Sommers, who with the Mummy flicks behind him is swiftly becoming king of the effects-over-storyline mantra, delivers the most action-packed blockbuster I can recall seeing for quite some time. The no-expense-spared visuals are truly a sight to behold, and subtlety clearly isnt a word in Sommers vocabulary. In short, adrenalin junkies will love it, but everyone else will probably be left wondering whatever happened to trifling matters such as plot, dialogue and plain old credibility.
Still, at least its a considerably better monster mash than last years rubbish The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. For that much we should all be thankful.
It's Got: Pitchforks and flaming torches no self-respecting angry village mob would be seen without them.
It Needs: To be seen for the impressive fx, and a great black-and-white opening scene (in fact, it would have been interesting to have seen the whole movie done in that style).
Alternatives:The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Mummy, The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King, Underworld
This hundred-mile-an-hour goth-romp leaves you gasping for breath but not for more.