Richard Roxburgh

Van Helsing (2004, Stephen Sommers)

I knew Van Helsing was going to be pretty bad… but nothing could prepare me for it.

It’s not even bad in an interesting way. Its components are, simply put, terrible. Richard Roxborough’s performance as Dracula is possibly the worst essaying of the character… ever. The special effects are awful–the CG monster at the beginning is laughable. Sommers tries to play it a little like a James Bond movie, but a bad one.

Hugh Jackman–as the main character–is somehow not in it enough to make an impression. The story’s very busy, which means Jackman doesn’t actually have much to do.

Kate Beckinsale has an accent and she’s dressed a little like a pirate. Her character doesn’t make much sense, but she and Jackman’s presence in the film doesn’t make much sense either.

Sommers’s target audience is five year-olds (the dim ones) who get references to the old Universal monster movies and Vampire Hunter D, which Sommers plagiarized in regards to Jackman’s costuming.

There’s nothing even remotely good about it. Alan Silvestri’s score is terrible. Maybe David Wenham is funny as the sidekick (he’s playing Q to Jackman, only as a monk).

Besides the generally awful special effects, even the composite shots are bad. They’re so bad it’s incredible they were done for a film released in 2004.

The scariest thing about Van Helsing is someone out there likes it and thinks it’s good.

Easily one of the worst things I’ve ever partially seen.

Sommers redefines dumb.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written and directed by Stephen Sommers; director of photography, Allen Daviau; edited by Bob Ducsay, Kelly Matsumoto and Jim May; music by Alan Silvestri; production designer, Allan Cameron; produced by Sommers and Ducsay; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Hugh Jackman (Gabriel Van Helsing), Kate Beckinsale (Anna Valerious), Richard Roxburgh (Count Dracula), David Wenham (Carl), Shuler Hensley (Frankenstein’s monster), Elena Anaya (Aleera), Will Kemp (Velkan Valerious), Kevin J. O’Connor (Igor), Alun Armstrong (Cardinal Jinette), Silvia Colloca (Verona), Josie Maran (Marishka), Tom Fisher (Top Hat), Samuel West (Dr. Victor Frankenstein), Stephen Fisher (Dr. Jekyll) and Robbie Coltrane (Mr. Hyde).


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003, Stephen Norrington)

There’s no doubt Stephen Norrington’s a lousy director but he’s not atrocious enough someone should retire from acting because he or she had to work with him–and Sean Connery didn’t even get the worst scenes in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It’s a stunt casting of Connery and, when compared to the source material–it’s no surprise, but he’s really against good character work. He refused to let them write the character as anything other than an aged Indiana Jones.

The scenes with him and Shane West–West isn’t bad, but he’s not charismatic enough for the role; he’s sturdy and unexciting–play like a May-September bromance. In fact, when West shows romantic interest in Peta Wilson, it’s almost strange, because his character is so asexual.

Besides the two of them, Tony Curran and Jason Flemyng, the acting’s pretty atrocious in the film. Wilson’s awful, Stuart Townsend seems to be doing a (really bad) Johnny Depp impression, Naseeruddin Shah–and it’s not clear if it’s intentional–totally lacks personality.

The special effects range from bad video game quality–the car chase through Venice is awful and almost comical, it must have looked hilarious on a big screen–to tolerable. For whatever reason, the film has more success with Flemyng’s Dr. Hyde than, say, Ang Lee’s Hulk had with its CG creation.

And while Norrington is British, it feels like he doesn’t really get the possibilities of the concept. Worst, I suppose, are James Robinson’s one liners. They bomb.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Stephen Norrington; screenplay by James Robinson, based on the comic book by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill; director of photography, Dan Laustsen; edited by Paul Rubell; music by Trevor Jones; production designer, Carol Spier; produced by Don Murphy and Trevor Albert; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Sean Connery (Allan Quatermain), Naseeruddin Shah (Captain Nemo), Peta Wilson (Mina Harker), Tony Curran (Rodney Skinner), Stuart Townsend (Dorian Gray), Shane West (Tom Sawyer), Jason Flemyng (Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde), Richard Roxburgh (M) and Tom Goodman-Hill (Sanderson Reed).


Like Minds (2006, Gregory J. Read)

If Like Minds weren’t shot in Panavision and it didn’t star Toni Collette (just because she hadn’t fallen off the radar far enough yet), it’d be the pilot for an Australian crime drama. Collette would be the criminal psychologist with Richard Roxburgh as the brutish but noble cop who had to put up with her (they’re ex-lovers no less). Well, and for the plotting, which casts Collette and Roxburgh aside, telling most of the story in flashback, as she tries to discover just what happened to a dead teenager. The prime suspect? His friend.

The whole thing is–down to the Hitchcock reference, but sadly not Rope–a cheap attempt to turn that TV episode script into a feature. As a director, Gregory J. Read isn’t terrible. His Panavision is not geared for 4:3 (or even 16:9); a not insignificant compliment. However, as a writer, he’s an idiot. Like Minds is astoundingly predictable–one of the major reasons for finishing it is the assumption an accomplished actor like Collette wouldn’t sign on to a project with a cheesier ending than Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan… but she apparently did. What’s more criminal is how interesting, with Roxburgh a solid copper and Collette capable of so much more, a barely competent screenwriter could have made Like Minds.

Had the film been about Collette and her ambition, it would have been… well, maybe not stunning, but pretty good and at least a decent thriller and not a stupid one.

Nigel Bluck’s cinematography is rather nice and he gives the pseudo-British countryside (why make an Australian movie look like a British one) a rather widescreen scope. It’s rather nice and sometimes succeeds in distracting from Read’s script’s more glaring illiteracies.

As the two teenagers, Eddie Redmayne is better as the suspect. He’s questionable at times, but decent. Tom Sturridge is competent–sometimes–as a creep, but most of the time he’s just awful. Read also misses the big gay theme in his “yes it is, no it’s not” Leopold and Loeb modernizing–occasionally, as Sturridge runs around in a wet t-shirt, I thought he’d get around to the homoeroticism… but he never does. Why? Because it’d make sense and be competent. And Read’s anything but.

As for Collette, she ought to be embarrassed. Another one like Like Minds, she’ll be to Australia what Val Kilmer is to New Mexico.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written and directed by Gregory J. Read; director of photography, Nigel Bluck; edited by Mark Warner; music by Carlo Giacco; production designer, Steven Jones-Evans; produced by Jonathan Shteinman and Piers Tempest; released by Becker Films.

Starring Eddie Redmayne (Alex), Tom Sturridge (Nigel Colbie), Toni Collette (Sally), Richard Roxburgh (McKenzie), Patrick Malahide (Headmaster), Jon Overton (Josh), Amit Shah (Raj), David Threlfall (John Colbie), Cathryn Bradshaw (Helen Colbie) and Kate Maberly (Susan Mueller).


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