I missed the press rounds for Van Helsing and when it came out in theaters, I couldn’t find a single reason to want to see it. But once word of mouth confirmed it to be every bit as uninteresting as I imagined, I was determined to experience it. Somehow DVD passed me by. I even missed STARZ on Demand. So when Universal sent me Van Helsing in their batch of HD-DVDs, I knew my chance had finally come.
Van Helsing HD DVD Review
Van Helsing opens with the most clear black and white footage I’ve seen, short of Sin City in digital projection. The contrast is just stunning and it makes me yearn for the possibility of old movies remastered for HD.
But once it goes to color, you find that Van Helsing has nothing to show off in high definition. It’s such a dark, blue and black movie, there’s nothing to engage the color spectrum. The sets are all a dull, industrial brown. Sure, there’s some lightning for a little Highlander action, but it looks like not a single scene was ever lit well enough in the first place to create material for high definition detail.
The visual effects just look even more ridiculous now that you can clearly set them apart from the background. Those vampire chicks with the elongated mouths made me laugh. The blurry wolfman can’t get into focus in HD. The best shot of the whole movie is the Universal logo at the front.
On my 56” JVC HDTV set, I’ve seen 40-year-old movies brought back to life and modern science fiction born into reality. Van Helsing is just nonsense that can’t hold up to revamped classics or modern fluff.
Also, the HD-DVD started skipping and going mute halfway through the film. It returned after about 20 minutes. Something tells me this is not a problem with Universal’s production disc. It seems like a Toshiba player issue. But again, new technology, they’ll work it out and I don’t feel I missed any Van Helsing magic.
Stay tuned for updates.