“Underworld: Awakening” in 3D


Underworld: Awakening” in 3d with Kate Bekinsdale (2012)

(1.24.2012)

Celeste and I received a pair of movie vouchers for Regal Cinemas from my grandmother, so we decided to finally cash them in yesterday evening to see a showing of the newest “Underworld” film.

I usually try and keep up on the late night circuit and movie rumor mill in order to stay a head and fill out my movie going experiences and knowledge.  I recently read that Kate Bekinsdale, the star of the first two and newest “Underworld” films had no intention of coming back to reprise her role of Selene, because she felt that the role had been tapped out.  However, after reading the proposed script for “Underworld Awakening” she was compelled to do the film, because of its quality.

With that in mind I have a sinking suspicion that she will not be returning for a fifth “Underworld.”  The story was all but nonexistent.  Humans have discovered the existence of the Lycans and vampires, and have decided to exterminate them.  I was a tad confused as to why the humans were so adept at killing creatures that they thought were myth, but maybe my “Underworld” knowledge is a bit rusty and I missed something from the second flick.  During the initial cleansing of the werewolves and vampires Selene and Michael are desperately trying to escape the city when they are raided and separated underwater by a UV grenade.

The film then proceeds to skip forward a dozen years with Selene ‘awakening’ upside down in a cryogenic chamber as alarms sound and the surrounding ice is rapidly melting.  Someone has helped her escape and she is pissed.  In a scene that greatly reminded my of the opening sequences to a many a Terminator film, she falls unclothed from her holding chamber, lands in a crouch, and then proceeds to gather her conveniently located clothing.  She then takes her anger and begins wreaking havoc upon her captors with nothing but a scalpel.  In the end the scientists and security let Selene leave the facility ‘freely,’ so that they can lead her to Subject 1.  The audience is led to believe that Subject 1 is Michael and escaped only moments after freeing Selene.

As Selene roams the city and begins to realize that she has been frozen for twelve-years she begins to have visions through someone else’s eyes as they also scrabble about the dangerous cityscape.  She assumes this to be Michael, her lover, and begins tracking him down.

The rest of the film has Selene skulking in the shadows in fear of the now dominant humans as she connects with a rag tag group of vampires and ultimately discovers the main villain of the picture.  All is not what it appears.

The storyline is pretty thin.  The writers really didn’t extrapolate on the previous three film’s groundwork and ended up going in an entirely new direction.  This isn’t a bad approach, but the more interesting parts of the prior films were abandoned which I think will leave long running fans (like my girlfriend) a tad dissatisfied.  For example, Michael’s character is only shown briefly, at a distance, and plays almost no part in the film at all.  Scott Speedman, who played Michael in the first two films, did not reprise his role and a body double was used in his stead.

That being said, where the story lacks–the action more than makes up for it.  “Underworld: Awakening” has some of the best action sequences I’ve seen in a long while.   The choreography is phenomenal, and this is the first 3D film that I’ve seen where I haven’t felt gypped.  It seems that after “Avatar” 3D caught on, but quickly fell in the way of quality.  The 3D effects were consistent throughout the film and accentuated the action nicely.  Seeing glass, dust, Lycans, and even Selene fly at me during the fight scenes was very apropos for such an action-oriented film.  The narrative is brief and seems only to serve as a small bridge to the extended action sequences.  Along with the increased action, the creators of “Underworld 4” seem to have upped the gore factor as well.  There were several moments throughout the film that had me cringing; I’m not terribly squeamish when it comes to the horror aspects of films, but even my stomach churned a bit.

Personally, I was in a ‘no think’ kind of a moment and the action kept me glued to the film.  My girlfriend, however, had more disparaging thoughts.  If you like a film that requires very little thinking, a lot of action equating to several “Oh snap” moments then I’d give this one a gander.  However, if you are already on the fence about it or want a deeper plot I would wait till “Underworld: Awakening” releases on DVD/Blu-ray.

“Contraband”


Contraband” with Mark Whalberg, Kate Bekinsdale, Ben Foster, Giovanni Ribisi (2012)

(1.15.2012)

Celeste and I decided to hit the theaters today and see Marky Mark in “Contraband.”  I have to say I was very impressed.  I was expecting a cliché thriller about a character being pulled back into the criminal underworld after cleaning up his act, because his family is kidnapped by some hot-headed, wannabe gangster.  Instead I was pleasantly surprised by a compelling plot that has bits and pieces of the aforementioned cliché, but is really something else all together.  I thought that the acting was great and the twist at the end was superbly done.  Definitely check this one out if you like a clever heist movie.