He was much more keen on it than I was - but I definitely have to add it to the category of "happy schlock" which is thoroughly enjoyable. Also in this category are "The Mummy", "Bulletproof Monk" "Indiana Jones", etc. It's long on action and short on plot - but what plot there is consists of just enough justification to get Dracula, the wolfman, Frankenstein's Monster, Igor, and Van Helsing all on the screen at the same time in something that is... well, not plausible, but basically internally consistent. The fact that "Faramir" David Wenham plays a nerdy friar with a cassock full of gadgets only enhances the experience; which is already plenty rewarding due to Ms. Beckinsdale's corset. Vrrowr. Also, Richard Roxburgh (the duke from Moulin Rouge) is Dracula, and is astonishingly reminiscent of Jonathan, in an overwrought fancy-man kind of way.
One of the things I liked about it in particular was the CGI - which did not even attempt to be too realistic, but instead was cheerfully cheesy. When CGI tries to fool the eye, and fails badly (the prosecution submits Exhibit A: "Spiderman" and Exhibit B: "Blade II" ) it can really ruin the movie. Van Helsing doesn't fall into this trap - they went for cartoonishly fun in the CGI, which is somehow much more satisfying and easy to accept. It's as if the producers are saying, "Look, we know it's fake, you know it's fake - but c'mon, it's COOL!" and indeed, I quite agree with this imaginary conversation the producers have had with me.
Everything in Van Helsing is bigger, crazier, and more lavish than it has any right to be. In most movies that would be tacky. But with a fist-on-hips sense of absurdist braggadoccio, this is a virtue, not a flaw. It's all in good fun - and in my opinion, Van Helsing is all in good fun. There were some scenese that were so astonishingly over-the-top that I found myself thinking, "This is totally ridiculous. But I don't care!" That's a very fine line to walk, but walk it they did.
Go see it! I enjoyed it far more than I expected I would.
(But don't go see it in Manayunk, because people brought screaming infants. Also the father and his two sons sitting behind us talked through the ENTIRE movie. Non-stop. Well, I lie - they did stop once, when the father fell asleep and was loudly snoring, so his sons were just sort of giggling, but didn't have someone to ask their non-stop string of inane questions.)