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: 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

 

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: Underworld (2003)

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Plot: Selene, a vampire warrior, is entrenched in a conflict between vampires and werewolves, while falling in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons.

Rating: 7.5/10

A peek at the IMDb scores for Underworld left me certain that I was in for cheese and melodrama and bad performances. Contrary to IMDb, I received intel from trusted persons that Underworld is hated unnecessarily by the “gurus” for whichever murky reason Hollywood powers decide a film should get poor ratings. Kate Beckingsale is front and foremost and brings forth a fantastic strong female character that is in no need of being saved. She does the saving. Seline is strong, powerful, really attractive, brooding and won’t shy away from confrontation. Miraculous qualities for a female protagonist!

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Kate Beckingsale is incredibly beautiful. I’d love to hate her on principle, but the fact is this is a really intelligent women takes on such a fierce role with energy is to be admired. Seline is a mix of power and female, and I was cheering all the way. The relationship between Michael and Selinehas impact because it doesn’t overshadow the political or war elements of the film, yet manages to demand attention when the two get a few moments of peace together.

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The lycans were terrifying. Underworld isn’t this pretty watered down Twilight-version of vampires and werewolves. The lycans live in dark shadows and haunt the decaying sewers of the city. Their leader, Lucian, has a plan and initially you are led to believe that he’s solely a villain, and as the leader of the Lycans he must be stopped at all cost. One sentence from Seline should immediately alert the watcher that things are not as they appear, because whenever a species is banned from looking into the past, there is bound to be things hidden people in power want swept under the rug.

Bring in Bill Nighy’s Viktor, whose awakening is fearful to behold. He plays the role of the Elder vampire with such pizazz it is obvious that he had the time of his life being a vampire.  Shane Brolly as Kraven is the weakest link in the story, his angle of action was really the cheesiest direction of which the other cast members steered well cleared of.

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The directing by Wiseman is excellent. The film remains gritty and gory throughout, and the atmosphere is accurately depressing. Underworld is a long one, but I didn’t mind as much as I really enjoyed it. The last few scenes, which obviously serves as the conclusion of the film is gory and blood filled, but to its’ credit I didn’t need to repress the urge to skip some of it.

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I had a surprisingly good time watching Underworld, and I’m definitely checking out the rest. They might not all be as good, but I will most certainly explore and provide feedback.

Have you seen Underworld? What is your impression?

Watched, Read, loved: March 2017

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Here is my monthly rundown of what I was up to the previous month. Right now it is still pretty much only addressing entertainment, but I hope to add some more life things into it soon too. Please feel free to comment below if you’ve seen any of these, or just to say hi!

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Southpaw (2015) – I love a good sport movie. Even though they are all pretty much the same story, I’m always caught up. It was no less with Southpaw, and even though Jake Gyllenhaal irrationally annoyed the shit out of me, I really enjoyed this one.

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Letters to Juliet (2010) – Amanda Seyfried delivers another charming performance. Objectively I know this isn’t a strong film, but it is so feel good I actually couldn’t care less about ratings. It is foolishly optimistic and cheerful, and a great film to watch if you are feeling down.

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The Wedding Singer (1998) – The 90’s atmosphere, combined with a surprisingly affable Adam Sandler and an adorable Drew Barrymore, I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Definitely one of the best Adam Sandler films I’ve ever seen.

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My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997) – I HATED the ending and I really disliked the main character. What a stupid movie.

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Enchanted (2007): This spectacular Disney production made me so happy when I watched it again. It is on a grand scale and very elaborate and so lovely to look at.

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Underworld (2003), Evolution (2006), Rise of the Lycans (2009), and Awakening (2012)

After years of ignorance I am finally familiarizing myself with this franchise. I had a great time with all these movies. Seline is such a strong female character and saves herself and her love more than once, and the feminist in me was cheering all the way.

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Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Continuing on this journey to watch more romantic films that are seen as classics, I got to see this. It was… okay. Hugh Grant really was quite the adorable English actor in his prime, and it is easy for him to be quietly charming. Andie McDowell also had no clue how to act. I’m not sure if she’s ever had a clue in that regard, but it really is prominent here.

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The Lucky One (2012)

The Lucky One  is not by any means the worst Nicholas Sparks film – Best of Me still holds that title – but what is most notable is the awful acting. Taylor Schilling and Zac Efron just don’t gel together. I’m forced to ask whether Zac Efron actually has a brain – there is nothing shining behind those pretty blue eyes. Sure, he’s cute and ripped, but his attempt at a tortured marine invoked less sympathy than concern about synapses firing at an appropriate rate. Schilling, yeah, also pretty bad. They also have zero chemistry and the scenes looked stage and neither actor really wanted their hands on each other. Okay, I’m done. But sheesh.

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Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island is what it was supposed to be: a nice action packed adventure with a handsome cast and a big gorilla. Ticked all the boxes for me, excellent popcorn entertainment.

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Power Rangers (2017)

I had not planned going to cinema for this. I would have preferred John Wick, but I was sorely outvoted by a bunch of 30 year old men who wanted to watch Power Rangers. There is something to be said for nostalgia. I ended up having a decent enough time – I  was unaware up until this point that Power Rangers could be made into something that resembles a non-cheesy film. I’m still shocked.

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The Guardians Trilogy by Nora Roberts: Stars of Fortune, Bay of Sighs and Island of Glass

I read these three books in the span of two weeks and I don’t regret one second of it. It is the most fun I’ve had in ages with Nora Roberts’ fantasy work.

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Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince (JK Rowling)

The penultimate book in the best series to have ever been written is overshadowed in intensity only by the last book. Half Blood Prince is consistently one of my favorites. It features the more mature trio, naturally Dumbeldore’s death and the discovery of the reason behind Voldemort’s apparent immortality.

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (JK Rowling)

Horace Slughorn returning to the castle to fight, Snape’s secret, Fred dying, Lupin and Tonks, Colin Creevy being tiny in death, Kreacher’s bullfrog voice, Dobby’s death, Hagrid throwing MacNair, Molly vs. Bellatrix– the last hundred pages of this book is nonstop goosebumps. I get tears in my eyes every time. Every. Single. Time. Deathly Hallows binds every single event that occurred in Potter from the very first page of The Philosopher’s Stone to the very last page of Deathly Hallows in a neat bow. This is truly the best thought out work I’ve ever read by an author.

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Angel’s Fall (Nora Roberts)

I really enjoy reading through my Nora collection at least once a year. Right now I’m with Reece and Brody, and I particularly enjoy the book – I like both main characters, the setting, the plot and development of said plot.