Last night I got to attend an advance screening of Van Helsing, which was fun. It’s a big dumb action movie, which is no surprise since the writer/director, Stephen Sommers, is the same guy responsible for The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. He seems to be the go-to guy for updating Universal Studios’ atmospheric, studio-bound, black-and-white chillers into fast, loud, CGI-driven, everything-including-the-kitchen-sink-and-the-stuff-in-the-drain-trap extravaganzas. (I must give him credit for incorporating the “Even a man who is pure in heart...” poem from The Wolf Man, an unexpectedly lovely moment.) On reflection, it’s kind of weird that he chose to put Dracula, the Frankenstein monster, and the Wolf Man in this one movie. Perhaps he decided to use all the remaining horror icons to prevent pigeonholing; otherwise, he might have been churning out horror remakes for years to come.
But I’ve wandered from my original subject, which is the actor who plays Carl. Carl is the sidekick who does triple duty as the bookish researcher, supplier of lethal gadgetry, and comic relief. From his first appearance (in a hidden laboratory in the bowels of Vatican City with a hilariously pansecular staff—it’s like the Austin Powers version of the U.N., in which the Spanish delegates are a matador and a flamenco dancer), I found myself staring at his face, muttering, I’ve seen this guy, I know this guy, who the hell is that?
The answer, as those of you who read the subject field have probably guessed, is David Wenham, a.k.a. Faramir in Lord of the Rings. When I read his name in the credits I went into full omigod forehead-slap mode. I mean, aside from his haircut he looks exactly as he did in LOTR, yet I utterly failed to recognize him because the performances are so completely different.
Now that is acting.