Silly, lacking in plot, but good fun
It's big, it's dumb, it's cheesy as hell, but I found it to be enormous
fun. This was made to be a roller-coaster ride and by that token it
should be judged.
Actually after the opening pastiche of the Boris Karloff Frankenstein
movie, I thought this had the potential to be a 5 star movie. It was
very atmospheric and had me hooked. However the film never really
captures any sense of magic from there onwards.
The main body of the movie does go on a bit, and it could have done
with some attempt to create engaging characters. Plot and story are not
always necessary for fun movies, but you do need characters with a
level of interest to capture the mind, otherwise you tend to find
yourself not giving a s**t. I felt Van Helsing did verge into this
territory, but for the most part it's so fast paced this doesn't matter
so much. The points where it does try to introduce plot are the moments
where it really does fail. In fact there is too much going on that is
never really explained, and I think it would've been better not to have
bothered at all, than use the nonsense Sommers resorts too. For example
the attempts at backstory to Van Helsing. Better to have one of those
interlude chatty scenes you have in the Indy films, where it
establishes he's a dude, rather than the poor attempts at angst and
pathos. Really bad was the moment he gets upset over Frankie's Monster.
What the hell was that all about?
Hmm maybe I took that a bit seriously, but the movie knows what it is,
why try be something else. I also thought that that masked ball
sequence was a natural conclusion, the eventual finale at the castle
felt like an add on, which lacked any real punch.
Far better was Van's introduction to Transylvania, with the benefit of
some neat angles and panning shots, the crossbow battle with the brides
was cool. The coach chase was exciting without being exhilarating, but
kept the flow going, so it's a shame some more bad plot gets thrown in,
especially when it was involving the underwritten Velkan. That's the
film's main problem - overkill of characters, with little space given
to any of them to evolve.
Finally a word on the CGI. I thought it was very good, especially the
morphs that were used. The very first moment Drac starts to turn made
me jump a touch, and when the vampires turns into their fanged,
contorted state it looked pretty scary to me. The wolfman
transformation, with the ripping flesh looked genuinely painful. At
this point I was thinking the CGI was genuinely stunning. I'd have
preferred the finale if it had just been Van vs Drac though, having CGI
characters fight felt uninvolving, and Drac in snarly state was far
better than the beast he turns into.
This is a movie to genuinely switch of the brain and enjoy. At times
there's too much going on and perhaps a bit too much swinging about for
my liking, but it's an adrenaline filled ride. I'd probably give it 7
out of 10.
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