This is a pretty good movie, not without some irony. First off, you have to think of it as a dark remake of Tarzan, with Wolverine and Selene playing the leads. Then you have to remember why movies like Scream are always so good: the plot is messy and unwieldy yet somehow it comes together. In the case of Van Helsing, it only comes together because the plot has so many precipitous turns to it that you’ve no time to notice all the impossible, illogical, and just highly unlikely nonsense crossing your vision. You must remain impetuous in attitude for full enjoyment! Second, fans of B-movies have to appreciate the absurd number of backflips and gallons of radioactive-green goo used in this production, even though the costumes and sets say this is not a B-movie. (Note too that the CGI is really quite good.) Third, the plot is almost to be taken seriously -- I mean we never discover Gabriel’s nature, but there are implications in the name. Fourth, and this is sort of a spoiler -- the dawn machine is only used once. When you see Chekhov's gun employed in a fairly minor shootout that does nothing whatsoever to further the main plot except by illustrating what a difficult, arduous task this all has been, you know you are watching something awesome!
Okay honestly it’s not a good movie but I found it so enjoyable as to say it is clearly above average, and for average movies I give three stars. Also, I’m tickled that I did not think this was a good movie when it first came out because I was comparing it to The Matrix and Underworld, which are both pretty serious films. If this had been marketed in 2004 or whenever as goth!Tarzan, maybe I wouldn’t have felt disappointed.
Spoilers -- Frankenstein’s monster, who has a fairly large role in this movie in order to play the relatively small part of ‘life machine for Dracula’s flying monkeys which will die in 30 seconds or else eat the world’ is done almost perfectly, and that’s considering how the airborne gremlins add more comic relief than plot tension. The creature has the sensitivity, eloquence, and arguably humanity of the monster from the book, without all the bitterness, and this is presumably because Frankenstein did not (deliberately) abandon his creation, nor ever balked at his wretched appearance. So the creature’s role as the sort of weird tabernacle for abhorrent unnatural life makes the ending rather sweet, in a 'technically we killed the only woman character’ way: he turns back to look at her funereal pyre, which at this point is not lit, and you think for a moment he will save her or donate his life -- which he seemed willing to do in the fight with Drac’s final bride -- but then he turns away in sorrow, and you see the faces in the clouds... it’s so American kitsch for a movie that has few or no American players :)