Van Helsing (2004)

(In theaters, May 2004) Whew! Logically, I should hate this film; its disregard for simple narrative coherency (full moons, chasm-running roads, oh my!) only matches its ignorance of physics (Jumping horses! Exploding coaches! Conveniently-placed ropes!) and muddled sense of narration. Yet unlike The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, you can sense an underlying method to this madness; writer/director Stephen Sommers knows that he’s being silly and isn’t being shy about it. (Heck, there’s even a reference to MAD magazine thrown in the mix!) Also, maybe more importantly, this film is seldom boring; while it runs too long (there should be a “only one massive castle fight” rule for movies like this), there’s rarely a dull moment. As a respectable film it’s a disaster, but as a homage to the whole monster-movie genre (with more than a bit of superhero action thrown in for good measure), it’s pretty darn spiffy. Special-effects-wise, some are great and some aren’t, but there’s certainly a ton of them! As if that wasn’t enough, Kate Beckinsale looks amazingly hot. (Hurrah for anachronistic hair!) Yes, I feel guilty for even thinking about getting the DVD, but too bad; it’s fun and I wasn’t asking for much more.

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