An initially empty title clicks into place with infuriating ease once The Fountain rolls its end credits. Of course, the fountain. That fountain. Darren Aronofsky has done it yet again. What has he done, here, though? Desperate scientists looking for miracle cures, the banality of morality poured over once more by a director who believes their vision is the one that will let everyone finally make peace. Not quite the success Aronofsky was gunning for as he piled his cast higher and higher with big names and bigger legacies, but certainly, a feature deeply rooted in its faith not just in a higher power but in its desirable leading performers, Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz.
Few iterations of Van Helsing have shown him as the sole slayer of vampires or a real hero that can stake his claim as a leading man. Francis Ford Coppola’s rendition of Dracula probably manages it best, but even then he is used as a supporting tool to a wider story. That is the beauty of an Anthony Hopkins performance in that period though, where Tom Waits can outshine you but not outact you. Either way, there aren’t too many examples of this important Bram Stoker character being adapted, much less in an independent, standalone format. Van Helsing gave that a go and got the preliminary issues correct. Casting choices were made, the budget was set and the setting was grand. What went wrong for this 2004 adaptation of the classic gothic horror character is what they did with him.
Whoever on this godless Earth thought that the man who directed a trilogy of post-apocalyptic survival films starring Mel Gibson in the form of Mad Max should also direct a film about a fluffy penguin learning to dance his way through life should be locked away for good. I didn’t need to ever see Happy Feet, nor did I ever want to. But sometimes you don’t get to decide the movie you and your flatmates watch, and sometimes they choose to watch Happy Feet because they remember it from their childhood. I had managed to skip Happy Feet, managing to preserve my childhood, but the scythe is remorseless for those that look to skip the Elijah Wood penguin film. I made it twenty years into my life without seeing a single frame of this film, but my freedom has ended.