Director Stephen Sommers has shown incredible potential with his brilliant revision of "The Mummy" genre with the initial "MUMMY" film. Unfortunately, he can also defame his previous accomplishments, as he did with the horrible "THE MUMMY RETURNS". In hopes of doing to the vampire/werewolf genre what Sommers achieved with the first "MUMMY" film, this reviewer eagerly anticipated "VAN HELSING". Unfortunately, "VAN HELSING" insults the first "MUMMY" film in the same way "GODFATHER 3" insulted the first "GODFATHER" film. "VAN HELSING" is pure crap from its opening scenes to its end credits. Even the special effects, particularly in the opening battle scenes with Mr. Hyde, whom has taken refuge in the Cathedral of Notre Dame,look dreadful! By the way, while it would have been really stupid to have Van Helsing fight the lovable Quasimodo there, but not that much more stupid is it? The entire film feels like Sommers concocted the script while nursing a hangover with warm orange juice. There's absolutely no sense of homage to the original vampire/werewolf legends, and the ridiculous production design tends to fall under its own weight.
UNIVERSAL has presented the correct 1.85:1 aspect ratio. While the image is superior to the standard dvd presentation, it also emphasizes the film's shortcomings as well. The CGI effects look absolutely laughable and horrid in one scene, and then passable in another. The colors are much more vibrant in comparison to the dvd and contrast is flawless.
While the film is garbage, the transfer is extremely impressive. There are numerous scenes that really showcase the great impact of high definition. The ballroom scene offers incredible detail and makes one actually appreciate the costume design where it would've been completely overlooked before.
UNIVERSAL has provided a DOLBY DIGITAL PLUS 5.1 mix. It's superior to the standard dvd in terms of its overall fidelity. Surrounds are more active than before, and the bass is extremely effective in enhancing the film's intended atmosphere. Unfortunately, dialogue tends to be too noisy in spots, unintentionally resembling a Robert Altman film.
All of the extras from the dvd have been carried over for this release.