It's about a comic-book-character-action-movie-character named Gabriel Van Helsing (Wolver... uh... Hugh Jackman) and his sidekick "Carl" who, it seems, is sort of a hierophant-in-training. Van Helsing and Carl are sent to Transylvania by their secret organization to kill Dracula. But before he gets to that there's a huge battle scene with him against some harpy-type vampires in a snowy little hamlet. These brides of Dracula put up a real fight and give Wolverine all he can handle. The problem was that his super-cool silver bolt shootin' crossbow didn't seem to do diddly squat to these vampires. He must've shot a hundred bolts into them but nothing doing. Now I'm no craftsman (someday... someday...) but these shiny silver crossbow bolts didn't look cheap and he was going through them like a teenager goes through a paycheck. I know, I know, it was just a movie, but it's not like he could go to the local Carter's Country to pick up some extra silver vampire hunting crossbow ammo (which I think are on sale there this week). The scenery looked very familiar and it was very distracting throughout the lengthy fight scene but then it finally hit me. If you've ever played the PC game Diablo II then you know exactly what the movie felt and looked like.
Now I didn't even pay much attention to the previews when this movie came out (2004, I think) so just about every part of the movie was new to me. That being said, with every monster introduced it built layer upon layer of CGI goodness. In addition to Dracula, the brides of Dracula, there was also Igor, Frankenstein's Monster, and the Werewolf. Imagine my disappointment when the Mummy failed to show up. Really, I meant that seriously.
Now Dracula is trying to bring the "Children of Dracula" to life. Because he's undead, see, and so his kids aren't born alive but they're not really dead in any real sense of the word either. Still with me? So he uses Dr. Frankenstein's old Monster Makin' Machine which fills an entire turret of a castle, well, you've probably seen the old black-and-white movie with the flashing lights, electricity, huge pipes, hoses, etc. By today's standards it could probably be run from a laptop. It works but the li'l monsters only live for a little while because of something to do with Frankenstein's Monster and he's in hiding.
So anyway we have Dracula-as-mad scientist, lots of medieval type fighting, sparsely distributed comic relief (via Carl), a tiny hint of mystery, a little self sacrifice, and one monster who turns out to be an alright kinda guy.
I think a lot of people had a problem with this movie because they didn't put it in it's proper perspective. It was a comic book after all. If people view it as a live-action comic book then it's a perfectly acceptable waste of an hour and a half. If you look at it like an action-adventure fantasy movie then you're in for some disappointment. People had the same problem with the Michael Keaton Batman movie in my opinion. I'm guessing the same applies to the Watchmen movie but I haven't seen it yet.
Van Helsing Trailer