antiTainment NEWS: Van Helsing A Campy-Embarrassment?

05-02-04 Keavin
Internet tastemakers are slaying “Van Helsing,” calling it long on cheese and short on plot. They are writing the film off as a cool premise that is degraded into a popcorn mass-market driven, over the top waste of time. 

One fan wrote about the film on the Rotten Tomatoes website. He said the film started strong but quickly deteriorated. He also took the casting director to task over some of the hiring. He dismissed Richard Roxburgh’s portrayal of Dracula, “every time he tried to be funny or over the top it came out terribly.” This fan also had plenty of venom to spew over the casting of the three vampire brides. “Going with models instead of actors with these parts really killed the feel of the film.” According to this viewer, the film “went from campy-fun to campy-embarrassing.” 

It is not surprising to hear the word “campy” thrown around. Stephen Sommers, the man that brought us “The Mummy” movies, directed the film. 

The real scathing reviews came from Ain’t it Cool News. One person writes, “with all the money in the world spent on this movie, one would think that ANY script might be a good place to start, this where the whole thing just doesn't come close to working AT ALL.” This reviewer also had a problem with Roxburgh’s performance as Dracula, “this guy is SO OVERTHE TOP, it makes you wish for William Shatner to show up, at least he's fun to watch.” 

Another person wrote in to Ain’t It Cool News about a screening for the film. According to this person, not one person in the audience enjoyed the movie. The biggest reaction from the audience came not from what was on screen but from an outburst from a fellow movie goer, “The point at which the audience cheered the loudest during the movie was when someone in the back shouted 'THIS MOVIE SUCKS NUTS!’” 

He capped off his review with the following: “The best example I can give of how bad this movie is is this: As we were walking out of the free screening my girlfriend turned to me and said, ‘I want my money back. I want my life back.’”

Another viewer was apparently at the same screening and also commented on the outburst from the audience, “Near the end, when things got even more ludicrous in this cheeseball wrapped in cotton candy fun house of a movie, some audience member in the packed screening yelled out ’This movie sucks nuts!’” 

Universal discounts the rantings of Internet “geeks,” according to MSNBC. "Geeks are like the new jocks," says Universal chairman Stacey Snider. "They're too cool for school. Having their support is meaningful sometimes, but they want filmmakers to show a little restraint, to hold back, and Stephen doesn't do that. His movies are designed as popular entertainment. Everyday fans love them, but it doesn't give him street cred."

The experts are split on whether this film will bomb at the box office. Some expect it to be the biggest film of the summer, while others think it will be a huge embarrassment for Universal, which sunk a reported 150 million into the flick. 

We will soon see the public’s verdict when the film opens on Friday. Will it draw in more viewers than Brad Pitt’s new epic “Troy”? Or will early negative buzz slay the film before it goes head to head with “Shrek 2” the following week?  .


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