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Van Helsing (Collector's Edition)

Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman) works for a secret society within the Vatican. He has to bring in or kill all non-human creatures. Zombies, Mr.Hyde, vampires, … none of them are safe from Van Helsing. After returning from his last job, Van Helsing gets sent to Transsylvania together with brother Carl (David Wenham) to help the last of the decendants of the Valerious family in their struggle against count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). The Valerious family isn’t doing too great as only two of them are left, Anna (Beckinsale) and Velkan (Will Kemp), the latter just having been bitten by a werewolf.

When Van Helsing arrives, he’s just in time to stop the “brides” (three female vampires) from kidnapping Anna but things aren’t quite alright from that moment on as they find out Dracula and his brides are planning on using Frankenstein’s monster to bring life to Dracula’s offspring. And while the vampires have been quite calm with only the occasional bloodsucking, they won’t be any longer when they find the monster and bring their thousands of decendants to life…

Sound and Vision:
The image quality that Universal provides is at times really fantastic with tons of detail, solid black that makes you think it can’t get any more black, great contrast and very natural colors. On the other hand there is some minor aliasing that can spoil the fun a bit and certain dark scenes are a bit TOO dark to give enough detail. Still, overall very impressive.

Where the image shines, the soundtrack could do a lot better. The 5.1 Dolby Digital track isn’t bad but could definitely use some more punch. Especially the subwoofer could be used a lot more and also the surround speakers have a case of over-subtlety while they should be working aggressively. Why a DTS track isn’t present beats me.

Extras:
– Audio commentary track with director Stephen Sommers and editor Bob Ducsay
– Audio commentary by Richard Roxburgh (Dracula), Shuler Hersley (Frankenstein’s Monster) and Will Kemp (Velkan)
– Explore Dracula’s Castle: interactive feature where you get to dwell around the set of the castle
– Bloopers
– Bringing The Monsters To Life: a ten minute feature on how the monsters were digitally created
– You Are In The Movie: certain scenes from a different angle
– The Legend Of Van Helsing: some extra info on the Van Helsing character that was used in different movies. Alonside we also get to know how Jackman got the part.
– Trailers
– DVD credits

DISC 2 :
– The Burning Windmill: background information on the opening scene
– Dracula’s Castle: a feature that shows how Dracula’s castle – which is a miniature – was filmed and enlarged in the movie
– Frankenstein’s Lab : feature on the requisits used to film the lab scenes
– The Village: the village in Transsylvania was a set and this feature shows you the insight
– The Vatican Armoury: again a feature on a specific set
– Evolution of a Legacy: three features called “Explore Frankenstein’s Lab”, “Dracula’s Lair Is Transformed” and “Music Of Van Helsing”
– Van Helsing – The Story, The Life, The Legend : 48 minutes of additional information on Van Helsing and the other characters that appear in the movie including comparisons between the old monster-movies they appeared in.

Conclusion:
Somehow Van Helsing makes me think of “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”. Lots of special effects, decent acting, a huge potential for a good storyline, lots of action that should be accompanied by a mindblowing soundtrack, … buuuut it just doesn’t do the trick. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is entertaining but it doesn’t convince. Jackman and Beckinsale are doing their best but Richard Roxburgh must definitely be the worst Dracula I have ever seen and even Frankenstein’s Monster is ridiculous. And doesn’t Mr.Hyde here look incredibly similar to the one from The League?

All in all, Van Helsing provides brainless amusement and if that’s what you’re looking for you’ll have a blast, certainly with the tons of extras that are delivered. If you’re looking for a vampire movie with a little “more”, then get Underworld.

Our Score:
7.0

posted in: DVD, Reviews, Universal
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