Universal’s last attempt to bring vampire hunter extraordinaire Van Helsing to the big screen resulted in the ridiculous mess that was 2004′s Van Helsing, but the studio’s gearing up for another try. Tom Cruise has been attached to star in a new version of the film for a few years now, and its producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci have started talking up the differences between their Van Helsing and previous Van Helsings.

Long story short: Expect this reboot to be grittier and more realistic. Read Kurtzman’s comments after the jump.

In an interview with CraveOnline, Kurtzman offered some insight on what he has planned for the “hard reboot” of Van Helsing:

Well, I don’t want to give away too much, because we are actually at the very beginning of talking about what to do with it. But I do feel like the Van Helsing that Anthony Hopkins plays in [Bram Stoker’s] Dracula is sort of the parody version of it, and the Van Helsing that Hugh Jackman played was obviously in a different place as well. I think that these kinds of movies have evolved a lot since then. You know, The Dark Knight was a major, major corner-turning moment in the way that genre and superhero stories could be told. Really grounded in reality. Really grounded in really cool things. That’s what I’d like to do without sacrificing the fantasy element. We aspired to do that as well on Trek, you know, keep it “real.” That’s such a different franchise than Batman, but that’s really what we wanted to do. And we’d love to do that with Van Helsing.

Kurtzman’s description is still pretty broad, but the fact that he’s name-checking The Dark Knight and his own Star Trek is telling. Part of what sunk the last Van Helsing was its over-reliance on CGI effects, at the cost of anything approaching physical or emotional reality.

In contrast, The Dark Knight and Star Trek deliver on sci-fi razzle-dazzle without completely losing sight of the universe we live in. The same goes for their storytelling — no matter how outlandish the plotlines or futuristic tech gets, the movies are anchored by well-developed characters and recognizable emotions. And as a result, the stakes feel much higher than they do in a movie like that previous Van Helsing.

I’m not totally convinced that the world is clamoring for another take on Van Helsing, but if Universal’s going to do it — and they’re obviously hell-bent on doing it — they may as well give it their best shot. It’ll be a while yet before we see what actually comes of Kurtzman, Orci, and Cruise’s ideas. But for now, it’s just encouraging to see that they’re on the right track.

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