Van Helsing (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stephen Sommers|
|Written by||Stephen Sommers|
|Based on||Van Helsing(character) by Bram Stoker|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$300.3 million|
Van Helsing is a 2004 American dark fantasy action-adventure film directed by Stephen Sommers. It stars Hugh Jackman as vigilante monster hunter Van Helsing, and Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious. The film is an homage and tribute to the Universal Horror Monster films from the 1930s and '40s (also produced by Universal Studios which were in turn based on novels by Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley), of which Sommers is a fan.
The eponymous character was inspired by the Dutch vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing from Irish author Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. Distributed by Universal Pictures, the film includes a number of monsters such as Count Dracula, Frankenstein's monster and werewolves in a way similar to the multi-monster movies that Universal produced in the 1940s, such as Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and House of Dracula.
Despite mostly negative reviews, the film grossed over $300 million worldwide.
In 1887 Transylvania, Doctor Victor Frankenstein creates a monster with the anticipated aid of Count Dracula, who reveals that he plans to use the creature for his own evil plans and kills the doctor as his castle is raided by a mob of villagers. His assistant Igor escapes, but the villagers chase the monster to an old windmill and set it ablaze. The villagers are scared off by Dracula and his brides, who witness the monster and the doctor's research apparently destroyed by the fire.
One year later, after killing the elusive Mr. Hyde at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, monster hunter Van Helsing returns to the Vatican in Rome. He learns that his mission to destroy Dracula and his amnesia are penance for past, unremembered sins that cause nightmares. He is tasked with helping the last of an ancient Romanian bloodline, Velkan Valerious and his sister Anna, who must kill Dracula before their ancestors may enter Heaven. Carl, a friar, provides Van Helsing with aid and weapons. Meanwhile, in Transylvania, Velkan is apparently killed during an attempt to trap and kill a werewolf, and Anna is attacked by Dracula's brides shortly after Van Helsing's arrival. He saves her life and kills Marishka, one of the brides, but as the last of her line Anna becomes more determined to kill Dracula. In order to protect her, Van Helsing knocks her out to prevent her from leaving. Later that night, she awakens and encounters Velkan, who reveals Dracula has a dark secret, but to her horror, he becomes a werewolf and attacks. After she and Van Helsing track him to Frankenstein's castle, they discover that the vampires are attempting to give life to their born-dead children, using Velkan as the source of the power. Van Helsing, dubbed "Gabriel" by Dracula, realizes they had ties in the past. Van Helsing refuses Dracula's offer to return his memory and escapes. The experiment fails however, and the vampire children die, but Velkan turns on Anna as he becomes completely consumed by his curse. The pair then escape together.
Under the remains of the old windmill, Van Helsing and Anna encounter the monster. Because he is not evil, Van Helsing cannot allow it to be killed, even though he claims to be the key to the failed experiment. The werewolf witnesses this and escapes to inform Dracula. Meanwhile, Carl discovers a painting that comes to life, depicting a werewolf and a vampire battling. They travel by carriage to Budapest, successfully luring the remaining brides into a trap and killing Verona. Velkan ambushes the real carriage and bites Van Helsing before being shot and killed. Anna is captured and held as a bargaining chip to exchange her for the monster. They hide the monster in a crypt, but he is taken by the count's undead underlings while Van Helsing and Carl rescue Anna from the count's trap. Returning to the Valerious' castle, Carl discovers an inscription, part of which Van Helsing received in Rome and creates a doorway to the castle. After failing to free the monster from his imprisonment, he lets them know of a cure to lycanthropy that Dracula possesses. Carl determines that the bite of a werewolf is the only way to kill Dracula. He and Anna take Igor to find the cure while Van Helsing goes to free the monster. Igor escapes while the final bride, Aleera, assaults Anna as Carl tries to deliver the cure to Van Helsing. After escaping, the monster saves Anna and urges her to help Carl and Van Helsing. She kills Aleera and arrives at the castle. Meanwhile, the werewolf Van Helsing and Dracula battle. Dracula tries to reason with the werewolf, but Van Helsing bites Dracula, who dissolves into a skeleton. Anna bursts in, causing her to be attacked and accidentally killed by Van Helsing, but not before she delivers the cure. Van Helsing returns to normal, stricken with grief over what he has done.
At a pyre funeral, Van Helsing witnesses the spirits of Anna and her family ascending into the clouds while Frankenstein's monster rows away on a raft out to sea. Van Helsing and Carl ride off into the sunset.
- Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing, a legendary hunter of monsters.
- Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious, together with her brother are the last descendants of an ancient Romanian family.
- Richard Roxburgh as Count Vladislaus Dracula, the ruler of Transylvania and Lord of the Vampires.
- David Wenham as Carl, a friar of the Holy Order.
- Shuler Hensley as Frankenstein's monster.
- Elena Anaya as Aleera, Dracula's youngest and most sadistic concubine.
- Will Kemp as Velkan Valerious, Anna's brother, who is turned into a werewolf.
- Kevin J. O'Connor as Igor, a former servant of Frankenstein's, now working for Dracula.
- Alun Armstrong as Cardinal Jinette, Van Helsing's superior in the Holy Order.
- Silvia Colloca as Verona, Dracula's consort and the leader of the Brides.
- Josie Maran as Marishka, Dracula's concubine.
- Tom Fisher as Top Hat, a Transylvanian grave digger.
- Samuel West as Dr. Victor Frankenstein.
- Stephen H. Fisher as Dr. Jekyll.
- Robbie Coltrane as the voice of Mr. Hyde.
The film opened at #1 in the weekend of May 7–9, 2004. The film grossed US$300,257,475 worldwide of which US$120,177,084 was from the US.
Van Helsing received mostly negative reviews by critics. Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 23% of 213 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 4.2/10. The site's consensus reads: "A hollow creature feature that suffers from CGI overload." Metacritic rated it 35/100 based on 38 reviews. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times gave the film 3 stars out of 4 stating that "At the outset, we may fear Sommers is simply going for f/x overkill, but by the end, he has somehow succeeded in assembling all his monsters and plot threads into a high-voltage climax. Van Helsing is silly, spectacular and fun."
Vivendi Universal Games published a Van Helsing video game for PlayStation 2, Xbox, PC and Game Boy Advance. The game follows a similar plot to the movie, has gameplay similar to Devil May Cry and the PS2 and Xbox versions feature the voice talent of many of the actors including Hugh Jackman.
Van Helsing also features in a slot game produced by International Game Technology. The game is available in real world casinos and online, though users in Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and the US are excluded from playing the online games.
Sommers expanded the story of Van Helsing in two direct spin-offs:
- The animated prequel titled Van Helsing: The London Assignment takes place before the main events of the film, focusing on Van Helsing's mission to try to stop Jack the Ripper from terrorizing London. But the killer turns out to be Mr. Hyde.
- There is also a one-shot comic book, published by Dark Horse Comics, titled Van Helsing: From Beneath the Rue Morgue, that follows Van Helsing on a self-contained adventure that occurs during the events of the film, just after the death of Jekyll/Hyde in Paris but before Van Helsing returned to Rome. In the adventure, Van Helsing deals with Doctor Moreau and his hybrid mutants.
In May 2012, Universal Pictures announced that they are rebooting the film with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci as a two-year deal to produce a modern reimagining and Tom Cruise to star as the title character and also produce the film. Rupert Sanders is in talks to direct the film. Orci spoken to IGN that he has hinted that both The Mummy and Van Helsing reboots will have a shared universe. On November 11, 2015, Variety reports that Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer will write the reboot, but Cruise left the film. However, in 2016, Cruise signed back on to star in Kurtzman's, "The Mummy", it is set to be released in theaters on June 9, 2017. 
- "Van Helsing (2004)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
- "Van Helsing". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2014-10-12.
- Wloszczyna, Susan (2004-05-10). "Marketing goes to heroic measures". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-10-15.
- Van Helsing Movie Reviews, Pictures. Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
- "Van Helsing". Metacritic. Retrieved 2014-10-15.
- Ebert, Roger (May 7, 2004). "Van Helsing". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2012-05-09.
- Van Hesling Board Game review by BoardGameGeek
- Fréderic Moyersoen Fréderic Moyersoen profile page at BoardGameGeek
- IGT Slots Blocked Territories
- "Orci, Kurtzman sign two-year Universal deal". Variety. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2012-05-02.
- "BREAKING: Rupert Sanders Circling Universal's Tom Cruise-Starring VAN HELSING". Twich. 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2013-01-23.
- Tilly, Chris (18 October 2013). "Bob Orci Discusses Van Helsing Reboot".
- "Forget Franchises: Why 2014 Will Be Hollywood's Year of the 'Shared Universe'".
- Kroll, Justin (November 11, 2015). "Universal's 'Van Helsing' Reboot Enlists Scribes Jon Spaihts and Eric Heisserer (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety.
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