PCR past banners Now in our fifth calendar year
PCR #218  (Vol. 5, No. 22)  This edition is for the week of May 24--30, 2004.

LA FLORIDIANA
Florida’s Commuter Airlines from the 1960s to the 1980s: Part Five
 by William Moriaty
THIS WEEK'S MOVIE REVIEW
"Soul Plane"
 by Mike Smith
THE GREAT BENZINI
Introducing Myself....On Gaming....Magic: The Gathering....Marvel Origins....What's Ahead
 by Ben Gregory
ODDSERVATIONS
Review: Van Helsing....Shrek 2 Shreks the Box Office....Mudonna Cancels Israeli Tour Dates
 by Andy Lalino
SPLASH PAGE
The Fall of Troy
 by Brandon Jones
COUCH POTATO
The Return of Vampirella....Couch Potato Quick Takes....Shows I'd Like To See
 by Vinnie Blesi
MIKE'S RANT
This Week's Issue....Congrats....Consumer Tip....Top 10 Challenge....Meet The Beatles, Part 18
 by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Oddservations Review: Van Helsing
(better late than never!)

Note to readers: I originally published this review on the Fangoria message boards, and it was intended to run in edition #216 of N'sPCR. The Fango boards, however, were down due to maintenance for about a week, so the review had to be delayed until I could retrieve it. The boards are back up now - thanks, Uncle Creepy! ---Andy

Van Helsing. Saw it a few weeks ago. Now, how would Shakespeare have described it..."dumbshows & noise"? I'm not even sure you'd call this a "movie"; it's more a video game: long (very, very long) action sequences with barely a breather in-between. Technically, it was well-done (which $158-million big studio production isn't?) but with a total disregard of plot & character. I clocked about 15 minutes in before my friends and I started our incessant ragging.

I'd venture to guess Igor himself could have directed a monstrosity (pun) like this with the unlimited resources of ILM (bunch of whores!) and Universal's finest carpenters & craftsmen. A good film/filmmaker knows the value of plot and character, and should know how to incorporate them in horror/action films. This time, Sommers dropped the ball and focused too much on the roller coaster thrill scenes. To be honest, after "The Mummy" and Sommers' 1989 flick "Catch Me If You Can", I expected much better.

Even the action sequences are weak, and get dull to anyone over 14 real quick. Huge characters (the Hulk-like Mr. Hyde, werewolves) jump around like Mexican jumping beans, which looks totally phony due to the fact that their mass wouldn't allow them to jump that way (CGI pixel wizards haven't grasped the laws of physics yet). "Mr. Hyde" (what's he doing there?) looks more like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, and is totally CGI'd. The werewolves walk up walls (even while human) like Spider-Man.

The castles are so humongous that they didn't seem to be built by human beings (overdone CGI). It seems to me that if you really want audiences to believe in your landscapes, you have to construct them so that there's at least the most remote chance that humans could have designed/built them. Ditto with Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory. Too, too much. There's enough aerial acrobatics to make even the Flying Wallendas dizzy, which comes off as contrived and totally unbelievable, even for a fantasy film. Haven't we learned anything since the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" sequels? The only thing missing is 'Short Round'.

Everything seems overdone, overcalculated, and reeks of utter desperation. Sommers must have taken a George Lucas "How to make movies in the new millennium" course and learned that if you stuff enough CGI action and landscapes in frame, Amerilemmings will forget the lack of plot & character. I'm sure the suits at Universal were sweating bullets when the dailies were screened, wondering if they'd lose their shirts on this skunk. Thank God for Marketing Departments.

Now let's tackle the actors. Hugh Jackman, good as Wolverine, seems lifeless and bored as Van Helsing. Kate Beckinsale (I keep wanting to say BeckinsDALE) really tries, as do the surprisingly good sexy female vamps (who turn into oft-seen harpies). VH's (no, not Van Halen's) sidekick, some friar guy, has to go - his humor was God-awful. The best characters I thought were Frankenstein (which surprised me) and a rather pointless undertaker who looked like Bill Moseley. From what I read here on the boards I expected Igor to be a rather well-developed character - he wasn't. He looked like the kid from "Mask". Most of the characters talk like they're in a Scooby-Doo episode, periodically explaining what's going on for those of us hopelessly lost.

Probably the dumbest concept in the movie (that's saying a lot) is the silly, bat-like "Spawns of Dracula", in which the plot pivots. These little, goopy imps look like the Gargoyle babies from the Rae-Dawn Chong story from "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie". I don't want to give away too much for those who haven't seen it, so I won't tell you what happens to them. They're tended to by these chattering creatures who look like the result of a Jawa and Darth Vader mating.

For horror fans, there are some nods to the Universal classics, Mel Brooks' "Young Frankenstein", James Bond films, "Brotherhood of the Wolf", "Bram Stoker's Dracula", and even "Aliens", but that and 89 cents will buy you a good cup of joe.

To sum up, if you're a 14-year-old boy, this is all you; if you're an older Fanboy, you may want to bring along your portable DVD player and pop in your newly-purchased "House of Frankenstein" DVD to alleviate the tedium. Make sure you bring earplugs, 'cos this movie's really LOUD.

Guess that's the silver lining in all this; it prompted Universal to re-release the classics on DVD.


"Shrek 2" Shreks the B.O.
Somewhat predictably (but not according to the studio), Shrek 2 shrekked the competition this summer (so far), proving that horror fans have a ways to go before we bury these animated extravaganzas for good. What happened to the days when 14-year-olds wanted to sneak in "John Carpenter's The Thing" and "Blade Runner", and were totally bored with talking donkeys? Man, I miss when Disney didn't have a clue in the late '70s/early '80s and kept churning out substandard animation features one after the other. Sex and violence was king back then ("Porky's", "Halloween 2", etc.) and kept kiddie flicks at bay for a good, long time. We should take bets on how long it takes for moviegoers to tire of 3-D animated features, though I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon.


Mudonna Cancels Israeli Tour Dates
It was recently reported in all major media outlets that Mudonna has decided to cancel several tour dates in Israel, due to death threats she received from Palestinian terrorists who plot to sabotage her stage show.

I'd like to take a moment to urge Mudonna to please re-think her decision to perform in Israel. Has she never heard of the saying "The show must go on"? She simply has to hold her head up high in her American Life, and put on a really big show for her throngs of Israeli fans at all cost. Mudonna, please don't let the threat of having your throat sliced from ear to ear or being blown to fleshy chunks deter you from puttin' on your staged extravaganza.

Remember, you were threatened by the very people you defend - the Palestinian underdogs. The oppressed. The little people that struggle to stand up to the Satanic juggernauts that are Israel and the United States. Do it for them, Mudonna. Git yourself up on stage! C'mon, you can do it! You must do it! Perform! Perform! Get up there! Sing your lungs out! Parade up and down those catwalks in your skivvies. Threats be damned! They're bluffing! Perform! Perform! Perform!

I promise you'll live.


"Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics (unless otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.