It’s time for a vampire film review! After Twilight, I know that it can be a little hard to take vampire films seriously anymore. To my defense, I have always been against them. They just don’t make for very interesting characters. Luckily, we also get Dr. Hyde, Frankenstein’s Monster, and a vampire hunter. Adding in all of these fighters should help to make things better….I hope!
The plot revolves around the hunter known as Van Helsing. He’s notorious around many regions of the world and everyone has heard of him. He has quite the reputation after all. He finishes off a few monsters and his boss sends him to go meet Anna. He has to keep her alive to foil Dracula’s plans. Unfortunately, her brother has already been taken down so Dracula’s plan is almost complete. Will the heroes be able to put aside their differences and defeat him? It’s a longshot, but it may be possible!
Well, this is essentially how I pictured a film with Dracula as the main villain. I’m sure that Dracula may become a cool character someday, but I’m just not buying it. I really didn’t like him here and disliking the main villain can definitely hurt in the long run. Before we really discuss the film, let’s look at the cast involved.
Van Helsing is our lead and he’s basically the Jonah Hex of the group. He’s the confident professional who always gets his man and he doesn’t back down from a fight. That’s pretty noble is it not? Well, I’d argue that he’s all talk. His first fight scene against Mr. Hyde is supposed to show us just how hardcore he is. It only serves to prove the opposite as Van Helsing continues to brag despite being outmatched. He should have been destroyed several times during the fight and he only makes it out thanks to Hyde’s overconfidence.
After that, he gets beaten up on by Dracula’s two henchwomen before getting knocked around by Dracula himself. Van Helsing may not be human, but he may as well be for all the good that it does him. He’s just completely outmatched and that makes it tough for him to pose a threat to anyone. His personality is really generic in the end and there’s nothing to separate him from the other main leads of a hollywood film.
Anna is certainly not the next Black Widow. She takes pride in her overall ability, but it’s simply not enough in this film. Perhaps she could give the average human a run for their money, but she definitely wasn’t prepared for Dracula and his cronies. Due to her family history, you would expect her to have a little more experience. Unfortunately for for her, Anna gets thrown around for the entire film. Van Helsing even takes her out with his handy dandy sleeping gas. Anna continues to talk tough until the very end, but it’s very hard to take seriously.
How can anyone really take a fighter seriously when they talk tough and get defeated the next moment? I believe that it’s supposed to be inspirational to see the hero mocking the villains even while being kicked around, but I can’t say that it’s very good character development. Anna essentially serves as a parody to the tough female lead that we are used to seeing nowadays. She never really had an edge in any of her fights and it definitely wasn’t a fun showing for her. Perhaps things will turn around if this film got a sequel..too bad it won’t get one at this rate. At least she beats most of the other characters in the film…it just isn’t saying much.
Dracula is the big bad. He’s the head honcho and the ultimate evil in the film! His design is a little off putting since Dracula’s hairstyle is usually a little more subdued. Nontheless, it’s always good to have a powerful villain. Unfortunately, Dracula loves to squander his power as he holds it all back until it’s too late. He spends a lot of time talking to his minions and showing us why he’s such a terrible villain. It’s impossible to root for him while he’s so preoccupied in doing things that don’t really help his plan. His minions are constantly distracting him.
Dracula is also supposed to be immensely powerful, but we don’t really see a lot of this. His two guards seem to be a lot stronger than him. They could move at super speed! Dracula didn’t really show a lot of that, but he does have a good amount of regeneration at the ready. If it could have worked more towards the ending, things would have gotten pretty interesting. This is one of those times where power isn’t enough. Dracula is powerful, but he’s still not a great villain. He simply doesn’t have what it takes and that’s the way that I see it. Dracula’s brides were no better. They were mostly there to be really dramatic and help Dracula in his inevitable downfall. They didn’t have much of a role as characters.
Carl is Van Helsing’s assistant and he’s here to keep things light. It’s sad when characters are really just in a story for comic relief. Carl should at least try to be helpful and get some big moments. Technically, fans could argue that he had a crucial role at the end, but I can’t say that I buy it. They were really generic moments meant to make us like Carl a little more. No! Carl is the type of sidekick that I just can’t root for. Give him a few years to learn how to fight and improve his tech…then we’ll talk. As it stands, Carl was definitely expendable.
Frankenstein’s Monster disappears for most of the film, but he finally comes back towards the end. He’s played off pretty accurately from the book. He’s a misunderstood hero and everyone wants to destroy him as per usual. It’s definitely not fun to be a monster. His design was definitely hard to look at and while he could fight..he was pretty slow. Making him so traditional may not have been a great move. At least he helped to add to the monster count, but he was mostly unnecessary.
Igor is one of the more minor villains in the film. He defected to the side of the villains so that he could fulfill his evil ambitions….or not. I wish that it had been for such a deep reason. Regardless, Igor just isn’t a good villain. He’s very weak and he doesn’t stand a chance against any real character. He likes to hit people when they’re down, but he’s no match for a real opponent. Igor typically isn’t a likable character in the films and this one is no exception.
Velkan is a supporting character at best. He does get a decent number of scenes though and he may be stronger than we thought. There’s a plot twist that keeps him relevant for a while. Needless to say, he lacked strength of character and I can’t say that he was very impressive at the beginning of the film. Everyone looked bad though, but the overall plan was terrible. His reaction times weren’t great either and it’s a lose-lose situation. If only he had been stronger!
It should be noted that some scenes will stretch your limits for disbelief. The “plot hax” in this film isn’t concealed very well. Anna is thrown through a window and she bangs a lot of wood beams and the wall as she went crashing down. It was a pretty big blast that a human likely wouldn’t survive. Likewise, Dracula’s brides kept slapping her around while throwing Van Helsing into walls. Both of them should have been out of commission considering how powerful they were.
The biggest moment where you may have to facepalm is the final fight between Dracula and a powerful creature. By all accounts, Dracula should have crushed his opponent. The film didn’t show us anything to suggest otherwise so I don’t see why it was such a close fight. In fact, Dracula is on the defensive the entire time and he seems very worried. He should at least try to act tough on the outside since that’s what all of the heroes do anyway. This film just made the mistake of making the villains too powerful. When that happens, the heroes always have to win in really fake ways like what we saw here.
The fight scenes ranged from pretty good to decent. The final fight with Dracula is pretty fun to watch since it’s essentially a monster bout. It was also good to see Dracula’s brides take on the village. Their super speed feats were pretty impressive and they should have destroyed everyone without any real effort. The plot wouldn’t allow it, but that’s how powerful they were. Other battles were less interesting like Van Helsing versus Hyde. It was way too one sided and the fight was pretty boring.
The soundtrack was mostly absent from the film. Luckily, there is still a really good theme that plays during the ending and at one point near the beginning. It’s very operatic and that’s the kind of theme that can make a scene become a lot cooler. It would have been cool if it had played more, but it’s enough to grant the soundtrack a passing score.
Finally, the film did have some unnecessary romance. It’s squeezed in at the last second for the heroes so you can tell that they just wanted to throw it in. Dracula and his brides also have some wince worthy scenes that are pretty sad. Sure, it could be worse, but this certainly didn’t help the film win any points.
Overall, This film lived up to my hopes for a Dracula film. I’ll never like Vampires at this rate and there will likely only be a few exceptions by the end. (Strauss is epic) There was a moment where some animal violence concerned me, but the animal lived, which was great. Still sad to see it get hit, but at least it managed to tank the blast. The film mostly suffered from the fact that it dragged on for too long and it wasn’t terribly interesting. Cutting out Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster would have helped it a lot. Or, make Dracula a compelling character as he punches people out instead of biting them. That could have been a nice twist. This film felt like I Frankenstein, but the normalized version that can be more acceptable to the crowds. Unfortunately, the crowds didn’t include me this time. If you like Vampire movies, then you should like this one. Otherwise, I’d advise you to steer clear of it. Watch I Frankenstein if you want a film with lots of magical creatures going at it. Perhaps I was a little harsh on the film since it could have made more mistakes, but it definitely made enough of them. A cooler cast with better action scenes could have potentially bumped this up to a 6 if handled right. Maybe next time.