Van Helsing is a 2004 American horror action film directed by Stephen Sommers. It stars Hugh Jackman as vigilante monster hunter Van Helsing, and Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious. The film is a homage and tribute to the Universal Horror Monster films from the 1930s and 1940s (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 titular 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, the Frankenstein's monster andwerewolves 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 negative reviews, the film grossed over $300 million worldwide and did well with the general public, becoming one of the biggest blockbusters released in 2004. A possible reboot starring Tom Cruise is in development.

Plot[edit | edit source]

In Transylvania, 1887, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Samuel West) brings to life his monster (Shuler Hensley) with the aid of his assistant Igor (Kevin J. O'Connor) and Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). After Dracula betrays, bites and kills Doctor Frankenstein, the Monster escapes to a windmill, which is burned down by a pursuing mob. The mob flees as Dracula and his three brides mourn the loss of Frankenstein's Monster.

One year later, the Knights of the Holy Order dispatch the amnesia-stricken Van Helsing to kill Dracula. He is also tasked with preventing the last of the Valerious family from falling into Purgatory. The family swore to kill Dracula nine generations ago and is unable to enter Heaven until they succeed. He is given a torn piece of paper with half of an insignia on it and is joined by Carl (David Wenham), a friar who provides support and weapons.

In Transylvania, the two meet Anna Valerious, who tells them her brother Velkan (Will Kemp) was recently killed by a viciouswerewolf in an attempt to save her. Van Helsing saves her from Dracula's brides as they attack the village, which ends with Van Helsing killing one, Marishka, as the others escape. Anna takes the pair to her castle. That night, Anna awakens and encounters Velkan, now a werewolf himself. After Velkan flees, Van Helsing and Anna track him to Frankenstein's castle, only to find Dracula attempting to give life to his children using Velkan as a power source. His plan fails, and Anna frees Velkan as he transforms into a werewolf. Dracula confronts Van Helsing, who recognizes him, and realizes that Dracula is impervious to conventional methods of killing vampires.

While escaping, Van Helsing and Anna fall into a cave under the windmill, where they find Frankenstein's Monster still alive. Though the Monster pleads to be killed so that Dracula cannot use him to power Dracula's machine, Van Helsing decides to take him to Rome to protect him. While crossing the Carpathian Mountains, the brides and Velkan attack. A decoy carriage filled with stakes kills Verona, one of the brides. The genuine carriage is attacked by Velkan and Van Helsing kills him, but is bitten; at the next full moon, Van Helsing will become a werewolf. Anna is captured by Aleera (Elena Anaya), Dracula's remaining bride, and taken to Budapest.

In Budapest, Van Helsing hides the Monster in a cemetery before he and Carl head off to save Anna, who is at a masquerade ball consisting only of vampires. Van Helsing and Carl rescue her. However the Monster is captured. Van Helsing, Anna and Carl return to Castle Frankenstein, where they find all the equipment has been removed. At Anna's castle, Carl explains that Dracula was the son of Anna's ancestor. Dracula was murdered by "The Left Hand of God", but not before making a deal with the Devil, which gave him new life as a vampire. Carl explains that although Anna's ancestor made the vow to kill Dracula, he could not kill his own son. Instead, he banished Dracula to an icy fortress from which he should not have been able to return, but Satan gave him wings, which allowed him to escape. Van Helsing finds a portal to Dracula's castle disguised as a wall map, completed using the paper that Van Helsing brought from Rome. They enter the portal, emerging on a cliff near Castle Dracula.

As the trio sees Frankenstein's Monster being lifted in ice to the laboratory, he tells them that Dracula has a cure for the werewolf curse. Carl realizes that only a werewolf can kill Dracula and that although he uses werewolves to do his bidding, he needs a cure in case they turn against him.

Van Helsing frees Frankenstein's Monster but not before Dracula's children are brought to life. He then becomes a werewolf and confronts Dracula. Dracula reveals that Van Helsing is really Gabriel, the Left Hand of God — as well as the one who originally murdered him. He offers to restore Van Helsing's memories, but Van Helsing refuses, declaring that "some things are better left forgotten".

Anna and Carl retrieve the cure but are attacked by Aleera after Igor traps them in the room. Attempting to kill Carl, Igor falls to his death, and Aleera is killed by Anna. They make their way to the laboratory just as Van Helsing kills Dracula and his offspring. Anna injects Van Helsing with the cure but is killed by him at the same time. Van Helsing and Carl hold a quiet ceremony for Anna and cremate her as the Monster departs on a raft into the ocean. As Anna's body burns, Van Helsing sees her and her family in Heaven, finally at peace. Then Van Helsing and Carl ride off west into the sunset.

Cast[edit | edit source]

  • Hugh Jackman as Van Helsing, a legendary hunter of monsters.
  • Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious, the last descendant of an ancient Romani family.
  • Richard Roxburgh as Count Vladislaus Dracula, the ruler of Transylvania,
  • David Wenham as Carl, a friar of the Holy Order
  • Shuler Hensley as Frankenstein's monster
  • Kevin J. O'Connor as Igor, a former servant of Frankenstein's, now working for Dracula.
  • Will Kemp as Velkan Valerious, Anna's brother, who is turned into a werewolf.
  • Elena Anaya as Aleera, Dracula's youngest and most sadistic concubine.
  • 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 Fisher as Dr. Jekyll
    • Robbie Coltrane as the voice of Mr. Hyde

Box office[edit | edit source]

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.[1]

Critical reception[edit | edit source]

Van Helsing was poorly received by critics.[2] Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 23% of 165 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."[3] Metacritic rated it 35/100 based on 38 reviews.[4] Roger Ebert of theChicago 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."[5]

Soundtrack[edit | edit source]

The film's original soundtrack was composed by Alan Silvestri.

Merchandise[edit | edit source]

Board games[edit | edit source]

Van Helsing appears in a board game[6] designed by Fréderic Moyersoen the creator of numerous successful board games such as Saboteur.[7] The board game was released by Mayfair Games in 2010.

Video games[edit | edit source]

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.

Slot games[edit | edit source]

Van Helsing also features in a slot game produced by International Game Technology.[8] 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 USA are excluded from playing the online games.[9]

Spin-offs[edit | edit source]

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, who turns out to actually be Mr. Hyde, from terrorizing London.
  • There is also a one-issue comic book 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.

Reboot[edit | edit source]

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.[10] Rupert Sanders is in talks to direct the film.[11] Orci spoken to IGN that he has hinted that both The Mummy andVan Helsing reboots will have a shared universe.[12][13]

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