The secular-fueled religious revival
Renfield - funny idea, terrible execution

Upon further review, Van Helsing is not that great

When Van Helsing first came out, I thought it was great, and naturally I bought the DVD.  A couple of nights ago I watched it again, and was quite underwhelmed.

My disenchantment is focused on two areas.  The first, and most obvious, is the overuse of CGI to create insane spectacles and daring escapes.  It was funny and over the top in 2004, but after a decade of superhero movies and the excesses of Star Wars, it's just annoying, a waste of screen time devoid of dramatic impact.  I've written before about how the constraints placed on prior generations of filmmakers brought about better quality, so I won't belabor the point.

Much more subtle is my dislike of the film's approach to theology, which is frankly awful.  I used to give it credit for having the Catholic Church be shown in a positive light, but it gets so much wrong and in so many ways, it's hard to sit through it.

Hugh Jackman's character is a generic jaded superhero, and David Wenham's friar is an amusing collection of friar/scholar tropes, but it hasn't aged well.  Even Kate Beckinsale (with her atrocious accent) left me cold. 

About the only performance that was still enjoyable was Richard Roxburgh's Dracula, which he eerily foreshadowed in Moulin Rouge.  That film has held up well, by the way.

The combination of steampunk crossbows and interfaith good guys was very much of its time, part of the hallucination that democracy was a universal and achievable aspiration. 

If nothing else, the film demonstrates that the most dated films are the ones rooted in a "modernity" that didn't last.





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