a critiQal film review Van Helsing: The London Assignment (2004)

  • DVD

Plot: In London, a medical man is killing young women. Van Helsing (Jackman) is sent from Vatican City to capture this man and try to save his soul. As it turns out, the medical man is none other than the classic villain, Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde. But what sinister reason does he have for killing these young women - and why does it concern the Queen of England?

474 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 22s)
  • ...a nice, if brief, animated lead-in to the live-action film

Taking a cue from The Matrix (1999), Van Helsing (2004), the big budget monster movie of 2004, came out with an animated feature. But, instead of coming out with the animated feature after the film, they decided to use the animated feature as a prequel to the main film. But, after the incredible success of animated film The Animatrix, would Van Helsing: The London Assignment‘s be able to live up to it’s predecessor?

The characters, as in The Animatrix, are voiced by the same characters from the film. Hugh Jackman, as Van Helsing, actually does a better job in the animated feature than he did in the big budget film. Maybe he just had a chance to work with better dialogue here, since the film was notably lacking in that. His voicing here does a great job of keeping the feeling that this is part of a series, not just a film by itself.

The film definitely helps set up the big budget movie that followed. It introduces the main characters from the beginning of Van Helsing (2004), making you want to see the main film more than you wanted to before you saw this animated feature. The scenes flow smoothly from one to the next, and there aren’t any pauses in the action – it’s non-stop from beginning to end. It also does a good job of reinventing the classic character of Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde, a tough thing to do.

The animation is very well done. It has it’s own style, but every character is still very recognizable as the characters that later appear in the live-action film. The animation keeps the same dark feel that the live-action film later contiues with as well. It’s a great job by the animators.

Van Helsing: The London Assignment is a great prequel to the live-action film. It’s got a great plot, very good animation, and pretty decent dialogue. In fact, The London Assignment, overall, is a much better film than the live-action Van Helsing (2004) turned out to be. The action scenes in the live-action film are incredible, but the slow parts (with cheesy dialogue) end up dragging down the film.

The main problem with The London Assignment? It should not be sold separately. At only 33 minutes, it’s definitely a quick prequel to the live-action Van Helsing (2004), and should be included on that film’s DVD, rather than sold separately. Luckily, I bought mine used for only $5, but anyone who paid more than that is going to feel a little ripped off at the short running time.

So, what’s my only regret? I didn’t see The London Assignment first. It definitely psyches you up for the live-action Van Helsing (2004), and would have made that film more enjoyable. Then again, maybe it would have been a disappointment, since Van Helsing: The London Assignment, despite it’s short running time, is good throughout.

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