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Cinema

Dead on Arrival.

Writer-director Stephen Sommers had best lock his doors at night, ’cause I have a feeling a very angry and very dead Peter Cushing may just be thinking of paying him a visit. Some movies are bad-funny, others are bad-bad…However much it may seem like one of the former from the previews, Van Helsing emphatically falls in the latter category. This movie is so loud, dumb, and nonsensical that it makes Kate Beckinsale’s last vampire movie seem like The Shining. In short, I’m ashamed that my ten+ bucks helped this godawful piece of claptrap make $54.2 million over the weekend.

What else is there to say, really? One of the early AICN reviews summed Van Helsing up as a “big, gawdy, dumb disaster,” and I think that pretty well encapsulates it. Hugh Jackman, so promising as Wolverine, seems bored and distant. Kate Beckinsale and Richard Roxburgh duel it out for the lousiest accent this side of Don Cheadle in Ocean’s 11. David “Faramir” Wenham’s bookish friar sidekick might’ve worked in a different movie (John Hannah played the same part in The Mummy)…it doesn’t here. And the CGI throughout — particularly that of the Wolfman and Dracula’s demon incarnation — is cartoonish and terrible. We’re talking Hanna-Barbera .

But I guess you can’t fault the actors and FX guys too much for phoning in such a terrible script. After all, everyone’s forced to chew out extended passages of completely clunky exposition, except during the long, interminable bouts of rope-swinging. The amount of time CGI characters spend swinging, flying, or falling in this film (with the camera invariably positioned just behind their CGI shoulder, so as to complete the roller-coaster effect, I guess) is flat-out ridiculous, and particularly given that the laws of physics never seem to once apply. And the denouement — which takes forever and a day to finally happen after all the flying, swinging, and falling — makes no sense in a number of ways. (How long is midnight again?) Trust me, Van Helsing is as terrible as you’ve heard…Abandon all hope all ye who enter here.

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