If you put all the horror stories of the past few hundred years through a shredder, then gave the remains to a 12-year-old comic nerd to write and direct, the result is the execrable Van Helsing.
I could live with vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein’s monster, and Mr Hyde. Even the obligatory villagers with, I kid you not, pitchforks. I could live, just, with Professor Van Helsing being transmuted into an action hero/archangel. But then there’s the script.
You’ve got Wolverine wearing Indiana Jones’ cast-offs. Really: he’s a mysterious immortal dude who’s lost his memory, played by Hugh Jackman – he even almost flexes his Wolverine claws at one point.
You’ve got the comic friar sidekick who also happens to be a scientific genius – someone must have some serious dirt on David Wenham to get him to take part in this crap.
And there’s the ‘Romany princess’ with impeccably coiffed hair and dressed like a dominatrix. Tip for young players – putting a peasant blouse under a leather corset does not make the costume any more credible (or less likely to lead to painful chafing in the bosomy region). And only someone who’s never worn spike heels would think it’s possible to do gymnastics, or even run, without turning your spine into a very short concertina.
There was a surprise cameo by that legend of the British industry, Alun Armstrong. I’d never expected to see him as pope and head of a secret multi-religion society dedicated to hunting down comic book monsters, with a huge mediaeval research lab in his basement. Red really isn’t his colour.
I thought Dracula Untold was bad, but this was woeful. The icing on the crap cake, of course, was the dialogue and direction – if someone gave me $160 million, I could make a film that would at least be a better class of crap.
* And yes, I am including Plan 9 From Outer Space, which at least had the virtue of being funny.
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