Stephen Sommers' Van Helsing (2004)

Van Helsing is a 2004 American action/horror film about vigilante monster hunter Gabriel Van Helsing, written, produced, and directed by Stephen Sommers. The film stars Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale. The film opened on May 7, 2004.

The titular character was inspired by Abraham Van Helsing from Irish author Bram Stoker's novel Dracula. Distributed by Universal Pictures, the film includes a number of monsters such as Count Dracula and the Frankenstein's monster in a way similar to the multi-monster movies that Universal produced in the 1940s, such as Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man and House of Dracula.

1887, Transylvania, Doctor Frankenstein (Samuel West) brings to life his Monster (Shuler Hensley) with the aid of his assistant Igor (Kevin J. O'Connor), and Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh). Dracula kills Frankenstein after revealing that he helped him only so he could use the Monster to bring his undead children to life. The Monster then escapes to a windmill, which is burnt down by a pursuing mob. The mob flees as Dracula and his brides, Verona (Silvia Colloca), Aleera (Elena Anaya) and Marishka (Josie Maran), mourn the loss of the Monster and their chance to bring their children to life.

One year later, the Knights of the Holy Order, stationed at the Vatican, dispatch Gabriel Van Helsing, who has amnesia, to kill Dracula. He is also tasked with preventing the last of the Valerious family from falling into purgatory; the family swore to kill Dracula nine generations ago and is unable to enter Heaven until they succeed. He is given a torn piece of paper with an insignia on it. He is joined by Carl (David Wenham), a friar who provides support and weapons.

Arriving in Transylvania,the two meet Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale), who tells them her brother Velkan (Will Kemp) was recently killed by a werewolf. Van Helsing then saves her from Dracula's brides as they attack the village, ending with Van Helsing killing Marishka as the others escape. Anna then takes the pair back to her castle. Anna is determined to kill Dracula herself, but Van Helsing is unwilling for her to take the risk, knowing that she is the last of the Valerious family. When she resists, he gases her to sleep and puts her in her bed.

Later in the night, Anna awakens from her deep, dreamless sleep and encounters Velkan, now a werewolf himself. After Velkan flees, Van Helsing and Anna track him to Frankenstein's castle, only to find Dracula attempting to give life to his children using Velkan as a substitute for the Monster. Anna frees Velkan but he becomes a werewolf again. Dracula confronts Van Helsing, who recognizes him from his past.

While escaping, Van Helsing and Anna fall into a cave. There, they find Frankenstein's Monster alive. Van Helsing decides to take him to Rome so he can be protected. The brides and Velkan pursue the group as they flee in a carriage, but they use a decoy carriage full of explosives, which kills Verona. Velkan is killed by Van Helsing, but not before he is bitten by him; when the next full moon occurs, Van Helsing will become a werewolf. Anna is then captured by Aleera and taken to Budapest.

In Budapest, Van Helsing hides the Monster before he and Carl head off to save Anna. They manage to rescue her, but the Monster is captured. Van Helsing, Anna, and Carl return to Frankenstein's castle, where they find all the equipment has been removed. At Anna's castle, Carl explains that Dracula was the son of Anna's ancestor. Dracula was murdered, but not before making a Faustian Bargain, which gave him new life. Carl explains that although Anna's ancestor made the vow to kill Dracula, he couldn't kill his own son. Instead, he banished Dracula to an icy fortress from which he should not have been able to return, but the Devil gave him the power to shapeshift, which allowed him to escape. Van Helsing then finds a portal to Dracula's castle disguised as a wall map, completed using the paper that Van Helsing brought from Rome. They enter the portal, emerging on a cliff near Castle Dracula.

As the trio sees the Monster being lifted to the laboratory, he tells them that Dracula has a werewolf cure. Carl realizes that only a werewolf can kill Dracula and that he uses werewolves to do his bidding, but needs a cure in case they have the willpower to turn against him. Making his way to the laboratory, Van Helsing frees the Monster, then becomes a werewolf and is attacked by Dracula, who turns into a giant bat creature. Anna and Carl retrieve the cure but are attacked by Aleera and Igor, who are then killed.

Dracula reveals that Van Helsing is really Gabriel, the Left Hand of God - as well as the one who originally murdered him. He offers to restore Van Helsing's memories, but Van Helsing refuses as he bites into Dracula's throat, killing him and his offspring. Anna arrives with the cure and injects Van Helsing with it, only to be killed by him at the same time, much to his grief.

Van Helsing and Carl hold a quiet ceremony for Anna and cremate her as the Monster departs on a raft into the ocean, having been allowed a chance at life. As Anna's body burns, Van Helsing sees her and her family in Heaven, at peace thanks to Dracula's death. This sight cheers Van Helsing up as he and Carl depart for their next adventure.

Hugh Jackman as Gabriel Van Helsing
Kate Beckinsale as Anna Valerious
Richard Roxburgh as Count Dracula
David Wenham as Carl
Shuler Hensley as Frankenstein's monster
Elena Anaya as Aleera
Will Kemp as Velkan Valerious
Kevin J. O'Connor as Igor
Alun Armstrong as Cardinal Jinette
Silvia Colloca as Verona
Josie Maran as Marishka
Tom Fisher as Top Hat
Samuel West as Dr. Victor Frankenstein

The film opened at Number 1 in May 2004. Domestically, the film grossed $120,177,084. Worldwide, the film grossed $300,257,475. This amount was almost double the film's budget.[2] Despite this, critical reception was generally negative, and was classed by the website Rotten Tomatoes as "Rotten," with 23% of reviews counted as positive. However, it did pick up a generally positive, three-star review from Roger Ebert.
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