One of my favorite films as a pre-teen was Van Helsing, which is the story of the famous monster hunter as he faces off against the likes of the Wolf-Man, Frankenstein, and Dracula. While looking back on it now, it was not a fantastic film. It is one of those that is too dark for children and too ridiculous for adults with iffy special effects and acting. However, seeing it at a time where I was not old enough to fully embrace the quality of a movie yet old enough to understand the mature elements of the film, such as the types of external issues (i.e. demons…no biggie) and internal issues of the central characters. Because of that, I watched it so many times that the dialogue and conflicts became embedded into my mind that I would immediately think of it when someone asks about my favorite films.
Additionally, I believe it was the first film that shaped me into a true fan of Hugh Jackman. Even though he is most famous of being the Wolverine, it was his side projects that made me respect him the most. Since he is also a fantastic singer (somehow a tenor) as seen in Les Miserables, I have even MORE respect for him. One of his other films, Prisoners, is my favorite one of his and is one of my favorite films EVER!
But, back to Van Helsing. The reason I decided to write my article about this movie was because I recently watched an animated prequel to Van Helsing that I had found at a thrift store. It was only a half hour long and it led almost directly into the first mission of the film where Van Helsing is hunting down Mr. Hyde. While I was glad I watched it, the most I got out of it was actually from the bonus features. It was interesting that the bonus content of the animated short had a half hour behind-the-scenes look at how the original movie was made and how they pulled off a lot of the stunts and special effects. While I have seen quite a few things like this, it is more interesting to watch for a film you loved so much when you were younger. I also used to watch how they made Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but that film was not as much of a primary movie when I was just a wee little lad. It still amazes me how much detail goes into making a film, even without a massive Hollywood budget. There are components of sets like Dracula’s castle that I would have never understood if I did not take the time to watch these bonus features.
This article was less of a review of a film, but more of a look at how a cinematic experience (despite its lack of critical acclaim) can lead to other experiences that broaden your understanding of how difficult it actually is to make a movie. So think about the amount of effort put into what you watch next time you head to the movie theater. Don’t forget to enjoy it because that is one of its primary purposes!