Friday, January 27, 2012

Underworld Gets Over

Fur, fangs and fun fly as the war between the Vampires and the Lycans rages on in Underworld: Awakening.
  • SPOILER ALERT! * The following review delves into plot and story details that could ruin the–Psych! There is no plot; it’s an Underworld movie! We just wanted to see if we could zing you. Gotcha!
ARTH VADER (AV): In this less-than-well-crafted installment of the endless narrated saga of the Vampire/Lycan war, Underworld: Awakening is as campy, pointless, riveting and fun as the previous 54 installments of the Underworld franchise. If you settle-in, butter-up your extra large bag of popcorn, turn off the lights (and your brain!), this movie is an exciting, quick-moving 90 minutes of blood and bullets–not the mention it stars Kate Beckinsale!
THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): There have been three Underworld movies before this (although is DOES feel like 54) and they have all had a consistent storyline, in what is shaping up to be a never-ending saga. They have also been consistent, for the most part, with the most accepted tenets of Vampire and Werewolf lore. The great part about these films is that they break new ground in introducing the hybrid of both mythos and making the idea unique to their stories. Making new continuity and sticking to it... good stuff in this case.
(AV): Kate Beckinsale returns as the eerie, Black leather-clad Selene along with the commanding presence of Stephen Rea, (Kate Beckinsale!) the unfairly handsome Michael Ealy (Kate Beckinsale!) and the solid screen presence of Theo James, (Kate Beckinsale!) with the adeptly talented portrayal of Eve by newcomer India Eisley, (Kate Beckinsale!) with scary Kris-Holden Reid and the convincingly arrogant Charles Dance round out a fully-loaded cast that includes the stunning return of… Kate Beckinsale! (Did I mention Kate Beckinsale?)
(TP): Nobody is going to be nominated for an Academy Award (although they were, I know who Vader would choose)... this isn’t that kind of film. That said, the casting and acting were fine for what this movie is supposed to be. Kate Beckinsale returns as Selene and delivers exactly what I went to the theater to see. The directing was a little inconsistent though as I felt the beginning of the film drew me in and took off...but the latter half left me deflated. It was almost like watching the movie in reverse where the best stuff happens first and then things start building down.


By happenstance, I was put in the precarious predicament of having to buy those God-awful 3D glasses for this one. As always, this was thoroughly unnecessary and did not really add anything valuable to the experience. Sure there were a couple of scene where a Werewolf would leap at the screen or blood and body parts would come flying at you but overall, like most 3D movies, a pretty empty experience. That said, this was a great looking movie from a visual effects standpoint. The end-battle sequence is terrific and gruesome. You know Pontificator; it has everything you would want in an Underworld finale–including Kate Beckinsale!
(TP):The 3D effects were better than many other films using it... and there were clearly improvements to the technology. I expect the 3D visuals of films to steadily improve and increase beyond the first opening twenty minutes as we move forward. However, what was gained in 3D effects, was lost in CGI as it was clearly identified by how shoddy it was. Great CGI goes unnoticed and good CGI is accepted as such. The stunts were great even if some of them were over-the-top...but considering who was doing all of them Vader, I’m sure you didn’t mind.

What can I say, Ponty, I’m a sucker for these movies (AND for you know who)! The empty, matter-of-fact narration by Kate Beckinsale (!) is vapid and yet I can’t seem to get enough. The near-thoughtless plot is not interesting enough to even discuss but it does offer an ongoing premise for story progression. I did want to state that the movie series did take an interesting twist by adding an awakened (!) human race now bent on whipping out Vamps & Lycans. I am so very tired of human beings portrayed as innocent or helpless victims in the vampire/sci-fi/supernatural genres, that seeing humans light up these monsters was a welcome change. The added pressure of the two monster nations now hiding from both the government and each other is a nice uptick in tension. How say you, Pontificator?

(TP): Well Vader, this was not a balanced film and I didn’t expect it to be. I expected wild stunts, blistering martial arts, and lots of death being dealt out by everyone on everyone else... and that’s what I got. Profound drama and humor was not present... or wanted. The sole twist of difference in this film from the others was the fact that the humans knew the truth about Vampires and Lycans and seemed firmly in control of the situation. The beginning of the film was spectacular in this aspect and set a tone for the film that somehow got lost toward the end after we find out what’s really going on. A true extinction act on both species would call for strange bedfellows...which I would have been more interested in seeing instead of the same underlying story.
(AV): Unlike previous installments, Underworld: Awakening seems to serve the sole purpose of setting me up for a return engagement–and after four, five, six (?) installments – I don’t mind. Heck, I almost expect it. The story ends on a pseudo-cliff-hanger, not a nail biter but an obvious setting up of the next movie. Can’t wait to see–what’s her name again? Oh, yeah, Kate Beckinsale! –return and whoop more of the Lycan’s furry backsides! The addition of a * SPOILER ALERT! *hybrid daughter means this series could have traction well into the next decade. Again, the added twist of adding an aware and cautious human population is a nice twist.

(TP): Sequels...? This is shaping up to be a never-ending saga. With the end of this film leaving everything open, it wouldn’t be unreasonable at this point to start thinking of Underworld as you would the Friday the13th films...and start hoping they end before it get’s that bad. I enjoy the stunts, the action, the gore... but I’m already fatigued by the thought that I won’t be able to look back on the whole story anytime soon.
ARTH VADER rates Underworld: Awakeningnot the best in the Underworld series, but certainly worth seeing, Underworld: Awakening is fast (90 minute run-time) and fun. One only needs a minimal number of functioning brain cells for this one gang, but if you like your thrillers dark, riddled with bullets, dripping with blood & gore and some better-than-decent special effects, then this one’s for you. So I went grave-digging and unearthed seven busted blocks for Kate Beckinsale–uh, I mean Underworld: Awakening.
THE PONTIFICATOR Rates Underworld: Awakening: I’m a fan of the Underworld films and love all the action and gore... but even with all that, this film only managed to bust five blocks for me. I suspect the other two blocks you gave the movie Vader were for you-know-who... but it’s just a hunch.

Underworld—Awakening: 6/10 Busted Blocks

No comments:

Post a Comment