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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, French, German, Hebrew, Greek, Dutch, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Romanian
  Extras
  • 4 Theatrical trailer - Van Helsing, Shrek 2, Bourne Supremacy, Chronicles of Riddick
  • 2 Audio commentary - With Stephen Sommers & Bob Ducsay, the second with Richard Roxburgh, Shuler Hensley & Will Kemp
  • Featurette
  • Animated menus
  • Behind the scenes footage
  • TV spot - (Superbowl spot)
  • DVD-ROM features
  • Documentaries - Various Sets and CG work
  • Gag reel

Van Helsing: Collectors Edition

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 126 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Charging his way onto the screen in this epic horror, Hugh Jackman (X-Men) is perfect as the swashbuckling Gabriel Van Helsing. The original Vampire Hunter, Van Helsing is dedicated to fighting evil in all its many hairy and mutated forms as he searches the ends of the earth for his own forgotten past...

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Van Helsing: Vampire Hunter.

But do not wait for the opening credits! There just isn't time as this movie flies from its flaming-torch and pitchfork lynching, to its climactic conclusion of good versus evil as Van Helsing faces his ultimate nemesis: Count Vladislaus Dracula (Richard Roxburgh, Moulin Rouge, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen).

"I usually only ask two question: What are we dealing with? And, How do I kill it? -Van Helsing"

The film opens in 1887 with seven minutes of black-and-white footage referred to by Director Stephen Sommers as an homage to its esteemed ancestry of 1930s horror films, and to the original Van Helsing.
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Frankenstein's Monster Seeks Revenge.
Amongst a huge castle laboratory, complete with wild lightning, sparking machinery and balls of greasy fire, we are introduced to the ambitious Doctor Victor Frankenstein (Samuel West) and his re-animated monster (Shuler Hensley). We also meet the malicious Count Dracula who is determined to use Frankenstein's monster for his own evil purpose.

Gabriel Van Helsing is introduced hunting through the cobbled streets of Paris where he confronts the disgusting Mr Hyde. From here, we understand the character, and the curse, of Van Helsing and his calling.

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Bad Puppy! No Biscuit!

In a scene very reminiscent of the Bond films, we see a huge gadget workshop and meet Van Helsing's faithful sidekick Carl (David Wenham). The young but learned friar arms our hero with contraptions and weapons fit for his duty. The pair soon learn of the plight of Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale: Pearl Harbour, Underworld) in her battle against Dracula and, so, head off to Transylvania...

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Dracula Relaxes with his Deadly Brides.
Director Stephen Sommers uses vivid comic book colours as his movie procedes, and attempts to sink its teeth into the worlds of Frankenstein's Monster, Jekyll and Hyde, Werewolves and, of course, the selfish plotting of Dracula and his beautiful but deadly Vampire Brides.

Taking a traditional collection of monsters, Writer/Director Stephen Sommers takes several liberties in an attempt to bring them all into a single, cohesive plot. And, although constructed quite well, I can't get over the fact that, for the sake of creating something new and exciting, the movie seems to have been given a little too much freedom.

As a result, the monochrome opening sequence appears to say, "Thanks very much for the cool ideas, we will show you some respect with our first seven minutes, but then, we are doing our own thing. So nerr!"

Do not misunderstand me, this movie is brilliantly made, and there is no doubt of the time and effort that went into its creation: Beautiful costumes and makeup; fantastic panoramas; and practically huge sets (many of which you can explore in the Extras) all of which are supported by a host of exhilarating computer generated (CG) special effects - a testament to the skill of their respective artists.

Alas, the most significant drawback of this action-packed movie is that it leaves no space within its frantic pace for adequate dialogue. The script relies on predictable cliches and boring one-liners to deliver almost all of the plot, and the unimaginative dialogue does little to realise the full potential of its very talented cast.

  Video
Contract

The 16:9 widescreen transfer is nothing short of perfect with crisp, clear bright colours and high-contrast blacks. As you can appreciate, working with vampires and werewolves, there are a significant number of night scenes incorporating both fire and lightning, but these have an amazing clarity with no noticable artefacts. And the scenic panoramas are breathtaking (if slightly reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings).

As expected with such a recent film, the crystal clear transfer allows the audience to truly appreciate the incredible work that has gone into the production of this film.

  Audio
Contract

Sound effects and balance can be tricky, but this 5.1 track is amazing - and not because it is obvious, but just the opposite, it's the subtleties that make this audio track so great. It wasn't until I turned off the rear speakers, that I understood just how precisely balanced and environmental surround really is!

Sound and dialogue are excellently spread and don't disorientate with camera angle changes, and the thunder is truly atmospheric - the hallmark that someone really knows what they are doing!

Powerful music by Alan Silvestri (The Mummy Returns, Castaway) brilliantly captures the characterisations and action. Van Helsing's Theme is quite a dynamic piece of work, with a gypsy flavour - just cool! Don't forget to check out the Extras, as there is even a featurette on the soundtrack composition.

  Extras
Contract

Where to begin? This movie has so many incredible Extras packed into it that it took me days to get through them all!

The Bloopers (out-takes) were my favourite, followed very closely by the Explore featurettes - which allow you to move through many of the Van Helsing sets as they appear on film. Although the guides do tend to prattle on a little too much.

The most tedious Extra would be the Special Effects special as, if you have seen one blue-screen and guy-wires set, you have seen them all!

Disk One
In addition to the Van Helsing Feature
you can Interactively Explore Dracula's Castle. Accompanied by the voice of Richard Roxburgh
Bloopers - Some hilarious stuff-ups!
Bringing The Monsters to Life - Blue-screen stuff!
You Are in the Movie! - See scenes from a camera behind the camera.
The Legend of Van Helsing - Who was the original Van Helsing character?
Feature Commentaries
* Director Stephen Sommers & Editor/Producer Bob Ducsay - Excellent insight into the movie, sets & makeup...
* Richard Roxburgh, Shuler Hensley & Will Kemp - Pretty good if you're a fan, but how much can three guys fawn?
Trailers
DVD-ROM
DVD Credits

Subtitles: English, Danish, Netherlands, Norsk, Hebrew

Disk2
Knock yourself out with the languages - I don't even know what some of them are!

This disk is packed with a dozen featurettes, including the design and filming of the different sets, and a brilliant collection of Featurettes divulging the historical origins of each of the 'monsters'; their motivations, and of their first appearances in film.

Languages: English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Turkish, Romanian, Greek, Hebrew

Making of the Sets:
* The Vatican Armoury.
* The Village.
* Frankenstein's Lab.
* The Burning Windmill.
* Dracula's Castle.

Evolution of a Legacy:
Explore Frankenstein's Lab.
Dracula's Lair Transformed.
The Music of Van Helsing - with Alan Silvestri.

Van Helsing: The Story, The Life, The Legend.
Dracula.
Frankenstein's Monster.
The Werewolves.
The Women of Van Helsing: Anna & Dracula's Brides.

  Overall  
Contract

Hugh Jackman is brilliant as the dashing Van Helsing. The special effects and production are beyond reproach. However, the movie suffers from an poor dialogue and contrived plot.

The DVD itself is magnificently produced and the undead hoard of excellent quality extras and bonus stuff make this Collectors Edition impossible to go past.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=4536
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      And I quote...
    "Hugh Jackman is brilliant as Van Helsing... And the undead hoard of excellent quality extras and bonus stuff make this Collectors Edition impossible to go past."
    - Michael Sammut
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Sony DVP-NS730P
    • TV:
          Sony 76cm Widescreen KVHR32M31
    • Receiver:
          Sony STR-DB790
    • Lifestyle System:
          Sony SAVE835ED 5.1 Speaker Package
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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