Even though writer/director Stephen Sommers’s horror-adventure hybrid Van Helsing – currently available on DVD – is strong in score, production design and special effects, it unfortunately lacks character.

The film, set in late 19th century Transylvania, tracks the legendary exploits of Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), a rogue monster hunter with no memories of his past. He is sent out by an ancient organization to find and destroy the likes of popular storybook monsters including Mr. Hyde (of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde"), Frankenstein and the villain that will present the biggest challenge of all, Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh).

When Van Helsing eventually arrives in Transylvania after completing successful missions in Paris and Rome, he’s heavily armed and ready to kill. Little does he realize that Anna (Kate Beckinsale), the last remaining member of a multi-generation royal family entrusted with ridding the city of the famous Count, is reluctant to let him help. After a wonderfully crafted attack of flying vampires raids the town, however, her opinion gradually begins to change. This sets up the action for the rest of the film as Van Helsing and Anna unite in their common quest.

The strongest aspects of this film are its chilly production design, breathtaking effects (people’s transformations into vampires and werewolves, among other things) and heavy instrumental score which almost appears to become a character because it is so overbearing. Jackman and Beckinsale both do competent jobs in their roles, although their characters are far from being fully fleshed out.

The DVD extras are as plentiful as the film’s special effects. There’s a 360-degree self-guided tour of Dracula’s castle; a special effects featurette from the experts at Industrial Light and Magic; a segment which tracks the evolution of the Van Helsing character through history; commentary with Sommers, Roxburgh and more cast members; outtakes; and, if you pop the DVD into your Xbox, you can play the first level of the Van Helsing video game.

DVD Grade: C+

Van Helsing is currently available.