In the manner of contemporary movie franchises, Van Helsing, writer/director/co-producer Stephen Sommers' big-budget science fiction/gothic horror film about a monster hunter, was accompanied by various ancillary media upon its opening on May 7, 2004. Of course, there was the original motion picture soundtrack album of Alan Silverstri's score, a "novelization" by Kevin Ryan, based on Sommers' screenplay (a certain irony, there, since the screenplay drew upon the out-of-copyright Bram Stoker novel Dracula, which introduced an elderly vampire hunter named Van Helsing), and a video game. Then, too, there was a comic book, or "comic one-shot," as it was called, Van Helsing™: From Beneath the Rue Morgue, and, released straight-to-DVD on May 11, 2004, a short film, Van Helsing: The London Assignment, which was an animated "prequel" to the feature film. That, in turn, gives birth to this soundtrack album, containing a score composed by John Van Tongeren and performed by "members of the Hollywood Studio Symphony." Whew! The obvious comparison to make is to the Silvestri score, and just as Van Helsing: The London Assignment is a miniature, cartoon companion to the feature, Van Tongeren's soundtrack (running just about as long as the half-hour short) is a lighter, more compact musical accompaniment. Forced to accompany the nearly nonstop action of the live-action feature, Silvestri opted for a bombastic, percussion-heavy score. But Van Tongeren, accompanying a radical reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson's out-of-copyright novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that somehow drags in Queen Victoria along with Van Helsing (who in these films is more like a cross between Batman and Indiana Jones than the Stoker character), is required to get in and out fast with cues that run from only 30 seconds to three minutes, yet makes time for some lush, reflective moments ("Love Potion Mr. Hyde," "Dumbwaiter Shaft"). He uses less percussion and throws in a harpsichord here and there for contrast with the stabbing strings. The result is actually a more varied and entertaining effort than Silvestri's, purely as a listening experience.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann
|Van Helsing: The London Assignment, animated film score|