London, 1889, the mysterious monster-hunter Van Helsing is
dispatched to capture the evil demon Mr. Hyde who is terrorising
the late-night streets women. In this all-new animated adventure,
Van Helsing uncovers Hyde's alter ego, Dr. Jekyll, whose plot
behind the murders threatens the British Empire...
success of last year's Animatrix did not go unnoticed in Hollywood.
At least three of 2004's Summer putative blockbusters also
aim to tap into the DVD animation market with simultaneously-released
prequels, spin-offs and, in one case, a reformatted theme
park movie. First out of the gate is this scene-setter for
Stephen Sommers' monster flick, shortly to be followed by
Dark Fury (from The Chronicles of Riddick, aka
Pitch Black 2) and Shrek 3D.
the value front, this is a disappointment when compared with
its inspiration. Just under 13 quid for a mere 30-odd minutes
of original animation is a rip-off, even if the short itself
is quite well done.
plot plays yet another riff on the Jack the Ripper/Queen's
Surgeon conspiracy theory. Here, Dr Jekyll has been mastering
the black arts because he holds a crush on Queen Victoria,
morphing into Hyde so that he can steal his Whitechapel victims'
life essence and then use it to restore his beloved to her
story is told predominantly in vivid 2D animation, nicely
overseen by debutant director Sharon Bridgeman. The look and
feel echo the main movie effectively and, if anything, slightly
more time is given over to developing character, motivation
and emotion. Meanwhile, there is plenty of busy action, including
a memorably cheeky sequence in which our hero fights off a
hoard of zombie Beefeaters in the cellars of Buck House.
there are times when the animation blows the suspension of
disbelief because of clumsy mismatches between 2D and 3D work,
particularly during two of its big set-pieces - one on the
19th Century Underground and the other in a balloon over the
It is grafifying that the actors who carry any characters
here into the flesh provide the cartoon voices as well. The
likeable Jackman is especially good at this stuff - pre-Wolverine,
he made his name in musical theatre. An on-disc interview
with the actor where he talks about the process or translating
a character from the real to the ink-and-pixel worlds is also
the one worthwhile extra.
the special features are led by two pretty ho-hum 'making
of' plugs for the main Van Helsing film and the video
game. Some animatic storyboards of sequences from The London
Assignment are there as well but poorly presented, with
the picture-in-picture storyboards being far too small to
allow any useful comparison with the finished product, even
on a big screen TV.
The US release costs roughly half that of the disc being flogged
to UK viewers. With its transatlantic price tag, this might
have been worth a look for fans. As it stands, forget it.