|1.||The Appearance of Mr. Hyde|
|2.||Testing Van Helsing|
|4.||Mr. Hyde Says Hello|
|5.||Love Potion Mr. Hyde|
|6.||Carl The Demon Bait|
|9.||Attack of the Beefeaters|
|10.||You Please Me|
|12.||Lies, All Lies|
|13.||What You Fear Most|
|14.||Tower Bridge Fight|
|15.||This Isn't Over|
|16.||Van Helsing Main Title|
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Review: Van Helsing: The London Assignment
2.5 / 5 Stars
Does every film require a prequel these days? Apparently so, and if that prequel cannot make it into theaters or afford live actors, the next plan is a direct-to-video animated offering. There seemed to be enough initial (yet ultimately misguided) faith in Van Helsing - directed by Stephen Sommers and starring Hugh Jackman, which itself has a phenomenal score by Alan Silvestri - to commission the animated prequel, which is in turn scored by John Van Tongeren. Van Tongeren has primarily worked in television, such as the mini-series Peter Benchley's Creature, and assisted in large scale features such as Speed and Days of Thunder. His music for Van Helsing: London Assignment, performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony, is surprisingly available on album and is a fairly enjoyable listen.
It is admirable that the producers behind this prequel chose to utilize an orchestral score, as that would mesh better with the work Silvestri provided for the live action feature film. It is also an exciting, active and brassy score, with plenty of string ostinatos and dark tones. For some reason, upon my first listen, I thought that some of the music could have fit in place with the scores for Batman: The Animated Series, what with its dark textures, the rapid fire trumpets and infectious rhythms. Examples of this style would be "Attack of the Beefeaters" and "Tower Bridge Fight". There are also moments of mystery, utilizing chimes, cellos, harpsichord and low woodwinds, which are very pleasing, and some lighter moments punctuated by pizzicato strings, as in "Dumbwaiter Shaft" and "Love Potion Mr. Hyde".
Van Tongeren's main theme, heard in "Van Helsing Main Title", is a bit limp and uninspired, not doing much to add a sense of adventure to the score and certainly not as ramped up as Silvestri's themes for the feature. I actually found the motivic material heard elsewhere more interesting, such as in the initial tracks "The Appearance of Mr. Hyde" and "Testing Van Helsing", which have some catchy riffs. There are moments of the score where it can be a bit obvious that synths are used instead of real strings or woodwinds, in conjunction with live brass, but most of the time all the performers are live. It's not groundbreaking work, but it's enjoyable enough and fans of Silvestri's score might want to give it a listen.
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