Movie Review: Underwold Bloodwars (2016)

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Plot:Vampire death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) fights to end the eternal war between the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her.

Although my fondness for the franchise has not dimmed in the least, the last two Underworld films have been really bad compared to the previous three. It feels like they story has veered far off from what the original was about. Bloodwars does not mention what happened in Awakening. Apparently the human race conveniently forgot that vampires and lycans exist and just happily ceased the war that they subsequently raged on them. Seline’s daughter was spirited away by executive producers for no other reason. There are some strange new vampires that have been to the other side. Seline soon joins them and gains delightful highlights. It seems like the writers are desperately trying to replace Scott Speedman with Theo James. I’ve said it in my review of Awakening too, so please note that Theo James, for all his deliciousness, isn’t the character we want to end up with Seline. There is no one for her but Michael, and whatever issues the directors have with Scott Speedman better be resolved before the next film because no one believes the easy copout they sicced on us. I enjoy his inclusion as David, but really, give me my Michael back. Tobias Menzies as Marcus was okay. He provided the necessary antagonist, but was he really convincing? The character isn’t developed or explored. He has a terrible backstory, similar to Michael and Lucian, but he isn’t properly introduced and felt like an empty antagonist by the end of it.

Underworld Bloodwars is the sloppiest of the franchise, with bad writing and heartless performances. It certainly isn’t my favorite of the bunch, and I do hope that when the sixth film gets the light they will have a story to tell again.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Movie Review: One Day (2011)

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Plot: After spending the night together on the night of their college graduation Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives. They are sometimes together, sometimes not, on that day.

Mind-numbing, soul-crushing, depressingly dreary, the undeniable stupidity of the human – in particular female – race.

This quote from Perks of Being a Wallflower “We accept the love we think we deserve”. That powerful, terrifying and thought-provoking phrase surely indicates that Emma (Anne Hathaway) does not think she deserves a good man.  Emma meets Dexter on the night of graduation. It’s the typical – she crushed on him hard, he’s ignorant to it. He’s had everything given to him in life and is as a result more open to adventures than Emma. Jim Sturgess’ considerable charm is not enough to make rooting for Dexter plausible.

Dexter is beautiful, charming, affluent and a B-grade celebrity in One Day. He’s a jerk, he can’t keep his pants up, and he mistreats his dying mother and concerned father. The only thing good about Dexter is Emma, who for whichever reason remains his friend after rejections and indifference and an unhealthy dose of selfishness from his part. They remain friends for years. She struggles to bloom but eventually reaches her dream of becoming a writer. Dexter, in contrast, loses his B-grade celebrity status because everyone thinks he’s annoying and falls into pit after pit of despair. But no – Emma never realizes that she deserves more. She’s still caught in that University fantasy about the gorgeous man falling for her. No relationship ever works out for her because remains attracted to Dexter. His shitty personality is marginally better when he’s with her, but he only becomes fully saved towards the end of the film, and by that time I just couldn’t care anymore about him.

The script of this film is largely the cause of its’ failure. There is a constant lack of information. Dexter’s mother wants to tell him something, we actually never hear what it was. Is this the cancer she later develops? Is it to tell him she thinks he’s a piece of shit? We aren’t privy to that information and we don’t get to see how it alters Dexter. Dexter’s father is an unsuccessful attempt to be a stoic-but-good man. He’s grouchy and has some moments where he ekes out wisdom, but for the most part he’s an empty character that does nothing for the story. Emma has no family apparently. I didn’t even reach a well of sympathy or gushiness for these characters – the script doesn’t allow you to get there.

Dexter is completely insufferable. Have I mentioned this?! He is the typical and often seen privileged private school kid without morals. I can’t root for him on principle. Not all privileged kids are jerks, but this one certainly is.

Anne Hathaway does her best with Emma, she truly does, but Emma remains a bland, boring and pathetic character without self-esteem and an unhealthy dose of masochism. Anne Hathway can’t pass as a Brit. That accent is off, she rounds her words way too much, and she’s just so American.

I felt like I spent a decade of my life watching this film. It is barely more than one hour and thirty minutes, but so insufferable I’d rather have spent my time watching paint dry.

This film is a drawn out mess about a woman who believes she can save a jerk from himself. The truth is here and that is what irritated me about this film so much – no person can change another person. A person can only change him/herself.

The thing is, I also get platonic relationships that are borderline romantic or full of tension. We all do. There will always be a friend that has the potential for more but there is something holding either of you back at various times. It happens. I just can’t understand why Emma remains friends with such an unredeemable man.

I’m done with this review now. I really hated this film. There are some things that worked – the washed out tones look gorgeous particularly. Other things didn’t work – and most particularly those ugly damn boots Emma insisted on wearing all the damn time.

If you’ve seen this movie, let me know if there is a support group of traumatized watchers helping each other cope with the damage. If you liked it, please do tell me what you liked. I would be VERY curious.

Rating: 4/10

Movie Review: Prisoners (2013)

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Plot:When Keller Dover’s daughter and her friend go missing, he takes matters into his own hands as the police pursue multiple leads and the pressure mounts. But just how far will this desperate father go to protect his family?

Prisoners reminds me oftwo things: why I really don’t want a rating system on my blog anymore and how hard it is to write about movies sometimes. Rating this film is particularly pretty hard. It is certainly another excellent film by director Dennis Villeneuve. He is the master of suspense, and if serious is your thing, you are bound to love him. He has an ability to slowly build his characters and give you surprising insight to their true colors when you least expect it.

The acting is superb. It is particularly easy to associate Hugh Jackman with only Wolverine, but here he proves the layered actor he can be. Keller Dover is a survivalist and a manly man. It is clear he takes pride in the protection of his family, and when his little girl is abducted after a Christmas dinner, he goes to desperate lengths to find her.

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Jake Gyllenhaal keeps up his plight for me to like him. Detective Loki is assigned to work the case. He’s never lost a case and has sharp instincts, but even he is at wits end when all clues lead to dead ends. There is also something quite sinister or desperate to his character, which is hard to pin down. He’s quite clearly very dedicated to his job, but does it with an unhealthy mindless intensity that suggests that the only thing he does have is his job.

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Then there is Paul Dano and David Dastmalchian, who both give chilling performances. Dano’s Alex Jones is a man of limited mental intelligence with an IQ of 10, but he manages to be so damn creepy I couldn’t reconcile myself with his innocence. Same goes for Dastmalchian – Bob Taylor is of such character that you need to suspect him.

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Viola Davis as Nancy Birch does what only Viola Davis can do – tell you a story with her eyes. Her dialogue is always secondary to the convincing way she embodies her characters’ every mood. She’s incredible as a grief stricken mother of the other little girl who went missing, a stark contrast to the total collapse Grace Dover (Maria Bellow) suffers.

Another opposite is that of how Franklin Birch (Terrance Howard) deals with the disappearance of his child, compared to manic rage that overpowers Keller. Terrance Howard has tangible grief on screen, and seeing his close friend unravel seems to unnerve him. He’s put in a terrible place – to either join in or condone Keller’s actions. It is a grey are that no person alive can answer correctly.

The plot is complex and winding and you likely need to watch this more than once to fully understand the story. The plot is every parents’ worst nightmare – a child that just disappeared with known sex offenders in the town. The dreary images of a town almost surviving in poverty but not yet there is bleak to behold. The violence is gritty and the atmosphere is tense. The cinematography is phenomenal.

My only complaint is this: it feels like it is 400 hours long (Zoë denies this, naturally). The end was just a bit too drawn out, and while I enjoyed the slow pace throughout the film, the slow pace of the last section annoyed me. There was also just a bit of an open ending, which frustrates me endlessly.

I will give this film a solid and respected nod with 8/10. It took me ages to watch, and I’m glad when I got to it I watched it with Zoë, because I would never have finished it on my own. It is really drawn out in the end and that is the only reason I haven’t rated it higher.

Movie Review: Underworld Awakening (2012)

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Plot: When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrior Selene leads the battle against humankind.  

The fourth film in the Underworld franchise, Awakening, was incidentally my first exposure to them. I watched it with my then boyfriend in cinema, and was slightly bemused by it all. It probably would have been more efficient to have watched the first three before watching the fourth, but I wasn’t as smart back then. Five years later I have now watched all five films can tell you that Awakening still isn’t my favorite film in the series. The return of Seline should have been enough to make Awakening exciting, but even Kate Beckingsale can’t save this mess.

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The biggest flaw of Awakening is that the lycans as the disgusting enemy again. Where the four previous films made a bit of effort to give a showed that the ancient war between the two species is much more than just black and white war, Awakening parrots the introduction of the very first film.

The decision to include humans and make them aware of the existence and the subsequent outbreak was an expected but disappointing decision. I was perfectly fine with a covert war continuing.

Charles Dance has such an ability to be cast as some vampire / ancient douchebag. He has a twinkle in his eye which tells me he had a lot of fun being a vampire. I enjoyed him thoroughly.

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I will take some Theo James any day, but really now, he’s no Scott Speedman. I refuse to believe Michael is dead, and even if he is brought back in the very final film, he better be bought back. I’m glad they didn’t try and push another romance here, I would have been furious – Michael and Seline for life.

Introducing a kid – also something I wouldn’t prefer but it is the natural process for Michael and Seline to have a kid. India Eisley as number 2 / Eve was quite terrifying when she transformed.

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It came as surprise during the last part of the film when you realize what is actually happening in the city. I didn’t see it coming, and I usually catch a plot twist a mile away, so that was pretty good work by the writers.

I really like how short these films are. They are mostly under two hours and works to underline that they are good and honest fun, not to be taken seriously. I am still really interested in the lore here and I think some parts of the franchise could have been better managed, but for the most part this remains a sexy, dark story of the world’s creepiest creatures.

Rating: 6.5/10

 

Favorite Movie Quote: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)

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I recently had the pleasure of watching Pride and Prejudice and Zombies for the third (?) time. It is such a fun adaption of the original work. I really do hope to get to the PPZ book soon as I am currently finishing up the original Pride and Prejudice.

As for today’s quote: The famed letter that Mr. Darcy writes to Elizabeth were he explains himself is beautiful across all the adaptions.The entirety of this letter is explanatory and heart breaking, but I am particularly fond of this paragraph:

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Of all weapons in the world, I now know love to be the most dangerous. For I have suffered a mortal wound. When did I fall so deeply under your spell, Miss Bennet? I cannot fix the hour or the spot or the look or the words which lay the foundation. I was in the middle before I knew I began. But a proud fool I was. I have faced the harsh truth: that I can never hope to win your love in this life. – Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Here’s my review if you haven’t seen it yet!

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Movie Review: Chef (2014)

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Plot:A head chef quits his restaurant job and buys a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

I would never have specifically chosen to watch this film by myself, and yet Zoë really liked it. I knew if she liked something like this (and it usually isn’t the type of film she’d go for), I would likely enjoy it too.

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Jon Favreau is perhaps best known for his role as Happy in the Iron Man franchise, but we all know him to be an excellent director too. He takes on the main character role of the Chef Carl Casper (love the alliteration right there), a brilliant chef who is forced into a mundane existence by working in an upmarket restaurant with a close-minded owner (played by Dustin Hoffman). After being blasted terribly by a Food Blogger, Carl loses his shit, goes on a Twitter rampage and eventually just quits. His ex-wife, Inez (Sofia Vergara), convinces him to take up a food truck because then he can actually be true to himself and cook what he wants.

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Beware, Chef is food porn. You need to be prepared for the visual stimulation that will besiege you and I would not suggest watching this on an empty stomach. The amount of goodwill towards good food is staggering, and I was salivating even after I already had a delicious meal earlier.

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Primarily Chef is what happens when a man loses his passion. It is a lesson on social media etiquette, being a good parent, finding solutions and loving what you do how a man that lost his passion gets back on his feet, and his relationship with his wife and child are incorporated into that.  It is a feel good film . I wish all divorced couples would get along so well. Inez and Carl are the ideal divorced pair. They both care about their childs’ happiness and work towards keeping him grounded. I also enjoyed seeing Sofia Vergara in such a role, she is too often only cast as a hot Latino mammy and while she does good at it, she has so much more to give than her typecast work. I also enjoyed Bobby Cannavale and John Leguizamo in their roles, as well as Scarlett Johannson who was just a normal character. Robert Downey Jnr. Quickly makes an appearance too, which tells me a number of the Avengers cast wanted to support their friend and that is just great.

I actually have nothing bad to say about this. Chef is a joyful film with humor and self-discovery, and while it really is very optimistic it is lovely to watch. Definitely worth it!

Rating: 8/10

Movie Review: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

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Plot: An origins story centered on the centuries-old feud between the race of aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0834001/

Rise of the Lycans is perhaps to Underworld what Tokyo Drift is to the Fast and The Furious (although not that bad). It took a risk by removing their main audience draws – Seline and Michael. Rise of the Lycans is set in long long ago where we finally get to see why Lucian embarked on his vengeful path against Viktor (Bill Nighy).

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Casting Rhona Mitra as Sonja was obviously a designed and successful choice. It is mentioned in the first film that Viktor was unable to kill Seline because she reminded him so much of his daughter, and comparing the two, both on personality and on looks I agree with Viktor – they really do share similarities.

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Michael Sheen has never struck me as a man with any appeal, and yet as Lucian I was not immune to his charms. He lost that leery look that I associate with Sheen for his work (mostly as the icky Aro in Twilight) as Lucian, for which I thanked him.

The film has its’ own version of some political commentary with the harrowing conditions the lycans are enslaved by. It is cruel and inhumane, and if there was any misconception that Viktor was a “good” vampire left, this film serves as final proof that he likely had it coming to him.

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Although not part of the main story I enjoyed Rise of the Lycans. It is probably my third favorite overall. The film at least maintains its gritty and sexy feel, something the following films never quite managed to achieve as of yet.

Rating: 7/10

 

Movie Review: Pride and Prejudice (2005)

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Plot: Sparks fly when spirited Elizabeth Bennet meets single, rich, and proud Mr. Darcy. But Mr. Darcy reluctantly finds himself falling in love with a woman beneath his class. Can each overcome their own pride and prejudice?

Continuing on my slightly unhealthy craze of Pride and Prejudice and all things Elizabeth and Mr. Bennet related, I had to watch this 2005 adaption again. I can’t find a review for it anywhere on my blog, and I know I’ve seen it before – is it possible that I did it pre-blog? I’ll never know!

I had a great time. I remember enjoying it the first time but not really appreciating the ending back then – I think I didn’t get at that stage just how British this story is and how perfect that ending was.

There are a number of changes made, but it was organic– I didn’t feel that it deducted from the story at all. The changes made were done to fit the span of the book into a movie, so a lot of information and pivotal scenes were ignored. As I said it didn’t damage the film much, but the book certainly provides a more comprehensive scope of Darcy’s character and the change Elizabeth was able to inspire in him.

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Matthew MacFadyen is truly a perfect Darcy. He is a wonderful actor, truly being able to convey emotions without saying too much. He is perfectly British and his contained atmosphere and telling outbursts as Mr. Darcy is spot on.

My love/hate relationship with Keira Knightley seems set to continue. The way she has of pulling her mouth frustrates me to no end. But, as I listed here, the fact that she has an annoying mouth does not derive from the fact that she is an accomplished actress. Ms. Bennet is as challenging to a female lead as Mr. Darcy is to a male lead – complex, intelligent characters with the weight of being a beloved classic weighing them down. She manages her role admirably and is a delight as Ms. Bennet, and has sufficient and delightful levels of impertinence that made me love her all the more.

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Rosamund Pike as Jane Bennet was a choice that I was not that all that pleased with, but she did her best. There was a desperation to her impression of Jane that I did not enjoy – Jane is shy and sweet natured and a bit too believing in the best of others, but she isn’t a desperate woman. Jenna Malone as Lydia Bennet was a perfect choice – Lydia is really the worst thing, she is a flirting little girl with no sense or morals or particular care for her family. It takes a strong actress to bring that particular disregard to family and tradition to life, and the callousness with which Lydia does it as well. Donald Sutherland as Mr. Bennet properly emanates that exhaustion Mr.Bennetmust feel from a lifetime with the skittish and irritating Mrs. Bennet (Brenda Blethyn) – who can’t but help being such an annoying person. I wish I could have seen more of Rupert Friend as Mr. Wickham – he was good on screen but not particularly often on it, which is frustrating as Mr. Wickham is quite important to the events that unfold. I wish I liked Simon Woods as Charles Bingley – he was just too ginger for my idea as Bingley. I did like Kelly Reilly as Caroline Bingley – she was as snobbish and backhanded and mean spirited as her character requires.

I felt similarly in the book – a need to rush through and to get to the end to know everything, but the pacing was slow and careful and makes you subsequently pay a lot more attention. The British countryside is beautiful despite the depressing weather, and the director managed to capture it and incorporate it into this very British movie.

The ending of the film is different to the book only in execution, with the phrases altered slightly but still much the same. It is powerful and touching, and the chemistry between Knightley and MacFayden is through the roof at that very moment. I’ve seen the extended version and the normal version, and the extended is a lot more true to what happens in the book.

I enjoyed this adaption so much. It is a great cast, it is well paced and despite missing some key events it still tells what it needs to tell. Watching this soon again is inevitable. An 8.5/10 for me.

 

Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

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Plot: Before she was Wonder Woman she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.

Can you hear that sound? It sure sounds like the patriarchal system starting to crack. Since I watched Wonder Woman Friday night I haven’t been able to stop looking at photos of young girls entering the cinema in their Wonder Woman costumes looking excited and elated. Someone of their own gender entering battle and saving people! I haven’t been able to stop checking on the financial success of WW, which is helmed as a victory of super heroines and female directors. I can’t help but laugh with glee how mad all the men are about the women only screening in Texas – how dare women want to celebrate and feel strong without having to hear whisperings that Steve Trevor is the actual hero? MADNESS.

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Director Patty Jenkins was the perfect choice to direct this film. A film about a woman by a woman. If you will bear with me, I will tell you why – Diana Prince is portrayed as a strong woman who fights for herself, sees her love interest as secondary to her mission, is fierce and formidable while being beautiful and smart and adoring children at the same time. I feel like women are constantly told you can either be the soft maternal type OR the fierce business woman, and it was nice seeing a character on screen that didn’t just do it, she made it look positively easy. Gal Gadot strides on screen with her incredible face and intimidating charm and manages to be warm, pure, sweet, funny, caring and kick-ass without breaking a sweat. It is a standout performance of which she can truly be proud, and she’s truly the Wonder Woman we needed.

The opening scenes with Themyscira is certainly some of the weakest parts in the film. I enjoyed the women fighting sequences, it was beautifully choreographed. The beauty of the hidden island is a perfect contrast with the war Diana plans to enter. It did feel just a bit out of place with the strong structure of the rest of the film. The scene where Steve Trevor crash lands and brings a horde of Nazis behind him is heartbreaking to behold, and the consequences of his arrival made me very sad. The fight scenes aren’t ridiculously drawn out, something Mr. Zack Snyder just loves to do, and it is DC’s saving grace. I haven’t seen a DC movie like this ever, and it is the first I’ve able to place above many Marvel movies. If DC can take this magical formula and copy it directly over into Justice League, please note that I will buy a ticket again and be completely on board with cheering for the male heroes too – something I can do without feeling my gender threatened, hem-hem.

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Where DC usually spends their entire films being depressing and dull, Wonder Woman manages to balance the serious with banter and some light-hearted moments. That is actually where Marvel sometimes messes up – they can be too light-hearted. Steve’s insecurities that can’t help slipping out when Diana refers to him as an average man is quite funny, as well as Diana’s comments on why women should even want to tuck their tummies in had me laughing – so very well aimed at society’s double standards.

There is always the stock standard romance, and while it was present this time around, there was nothing stock nor standard about it. Steve is such an incredible guy – he has a purity that is very nearly Steve Rogers about him – morals, etiquette, the ability to see war as injustice on both sides. He allows Diana to do her thing and after only a few slips begins to understand that she will do what she wants to whether he thinks it is allowed or not. Chris Pine was a great choice as this character. He is a talented man that is finally getting some good exposure. He had good chemistry with Gal Gadot. Honestly – he looks like a wartime hero and that certainly gave him impact as well.

Did I see some of the plot reveals coming – I saw the one, but there were a few others that managed to surprise me. It made for interesting watching – and no, I’m not telling you. This movie is way too fresh out to be spoiled on my blog.

If you haven’t seen Wonder Woman yet – go right out and do it. I will need a really strong contender to even ruffle this movie’s feathers as my favorite film of 2017 going forth into the remainder of this year. It is an excellent superhero film in a time where superheroes are stock standard. Let me know if you’ve seen it, and what your thoughts were!

Rating: 8.5/10

Movie Review: Underworld Evolution (2006)

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Plot:Picking up directly from the previous film, vampire warrior Selene and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them.

When films like Evolution gets hated on online I am always quite surprised. This said trashed film and it isn’t nearly as horrible as it is made out to be. The entire Underworld franchise is garbage rated on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, but here’s the kicker: it’s actually not that cheesy, it is quite dark and violent and the history between the lycans and vampires are well thought out. Is there some sort of secret society in the entertainment industry that decides to trash things for reasons unknown? Oh wait, that’s the Academy right?

Continuing immediately after the events in Underworld, Seline and Michael narrowly escape after her killing the vampire elder Viktor (Bill Nighy). Seline hopes by awakening Viktor’s brother and last remaining vampire elder Marcus (Tony Curran), she will be able to save her life and Michael’s life. But even though Marcus and Viktor have a long line of dispute between them, Marcus is furious to find his brother dead and sets out on his path of retribution. He is terrifying as some sort of hybrid, and they have a dangerous road to survival set out to them. A whole lot of other things also occur and in it is more insight into the lycan and vampire history.

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Evolution remains dark, sexy and violent. It is not so much different from the first film. We are still following the gorgeous Seline and the gorgeous Michael, and we are treated to some sexy time between them. It was a little risqué, much more than the usual amount generally applied in mainstream films, but it continues to suit the tone of the series and stops just short of being icky.

More history is given about both species and I enjoyed that. I’m not sure whether there was a real point to bring in a father figure of Markus and Viktor and explaining all that sordid history, but at least it ultimately makes Seline able to walk in the sun.

At the end of the film all I wanted is Michael and Seline to be together and safe. That wish is mostly granted. It still ends with some depressing voice overs, but for the most part we are left with our favorite couple in a relatively safe future.

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Underworld Evolution is enjoyable, gritty, oddly romantic and with a lot of sexy Undertones. I’d give my left pinky toe to be built like Seline, and I wouldn’t mind dating Michael either, hybrid or not.

Rating: 7/10