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Underworld: Awakening: Flashy Vampires and Werewolves
The fourth film in the Underworld series, Awakening starts off with the vampire and lycan communities being exposed and the humans declaring an all-out war against them. During the purge, vampire Selene (Beckinsale) and hybrid Michael are taken captive and cryogenically frozen. Selene awakens twelve years later in a lab to discover that the humans have won and the remaining vampires and lycans have been driven deep into hiding. While searching for any evidence of Michael’s fate, she runs into the young girl who freed her from the lab, her hybrid daughter, who is being tracked by people desperate to get her back.
Beckinsale doesn’t seem very interested in being in the film. She’s ok when she’s fighting, mainly because the camera’s moving too quickly for you to keep tabs on her, but when the action settles down into an emotional moment, she seems bored at best. Her character barely seems fazed by her lost twelve years or by the fact that she now has a daughter. She has a going-through-the-motions vibe going on, which is completely at odds with the heightened stakes she’s up against. That being said, the sheer amount of bodies she leaves strewn in her wake is highly gratifying, as is the image of her brandishing her twin guns while defying gravity.
The film is flashy but confusing, and this confusion doesn’t stem from a lack of prior knowledge of the series, but by shoddy storytelling and lazy acting. The direction doesn’t get a free pass either. The rapid, choppy fight scenes look impressive but are nonetheless infuriating, especially when they make the logistics of the more important killings vaguer than they already are.
On the plus side, though, the stunts have a sort of balletic quality to them. When Selene jumps off of buildings or over fences, she could almost be mistaken for a dancer if not for her bright blue irises and icy expression. Also, the lycans look like a feral version of Xmen’s Beast and while they aren’t particularly scary, the scenes where they transform from humans to werewolves are pretty cool.
The most irritating thing is how the human versus vampire/lycan war was almost completely ignored. It was used almost solely as a set up for Selene to be captured, completely sidestepping a perfect opportunity to forge a connection between the film universe and the real world. This ethnic cleansing war should have, at the very least, struck a political and emotional chord with the audience. And while a twist in the middle of the film does bring the story back around to how the vampires and lycans dealt with the war, it’s overshadowed by the onscreen bloodbath.
If you’re a fan of the previous Underworld film, this one is more of the same and may be worth a watch.
With seventeen novels to his name, it’s fair to say that author, Nicholas Sparks, has enjoyed a decent amount of success, especially since his very first book-to-film adaptation of the super-cheesy Message in a Bottle back in 1999. Nine of his novels have been turned into big Hollywood motion-pictures – including The Notebook and Dear John – and his latest, a disastrous and a painfully predictable attempt at a romantic drama, is the author’s tenth and quite possibly, most damaging of them all.
The story opens with Sophia (Robertson); a young woman looking forward to moving to New York City, where she plans to pursue her dreams of working at an art gallery right after she graduates. Things soon get complicated when - while attending a bull-riding competition of all things - she lays her eyes on Luke Collins (Eastwood); a handsome and a talented bull-rider who is making a return after suffering a major injury a year prior. The two are quick to connect and soon begin to spend more time with one another.
One night, they come across a devastating car accident and after managing to pull an elderly man named Ira Levinson (Alda) - and his box full of old letters – out of the wreck, the film smacks on another layer to the story. Sending us all the way back to WWII, the film shifts its focus to young Ira (Huston) and a beautiful young girl named, Ruth (Chaplin), and begins to follow their romance; a story filled with plenty of heartache and tragedy to keep hardcore Sparks fans amused.
One thing’s for sure; if you’ve seen one Nicholas Sparks movie, you’ve seen them all. Two pretty people fall in love. Their potential happily-ever-after is challenegd by a series of obstacles and hurdles which they need to find the strength to overcome. Tragedy strikes. Tears are jerked. Roll credits.
The Longest Ride is one of author’s weakest entries, it’s a little too predictable and as the tenth book-to-movie adaptation for the celebrated author, there’s nothing to separate it from the pack or make it more relevant or topical. The story jumps back and forth rather awkwardly between the past and the present and there is very little that connects the two periods together, making us think why bother with the timeline to begin with?
On the upside, the leads – although lacking quite a bit of chemistry – are likable and both Eastwood and Robertson bring enough charm and easygoingness – yes, that’s a real word – into the story. However, their pretty faces aren’t enough to save the day; unsurprising and tediously slow, The Longest Ride is a truly a long ride.
Arriving six years after the original, the follow-up installment to Kevin James’ embarrassingly unfunny and especially agonizing Paul Blart: Mall Cop is just as insufferable and unnecessary as its predecessor.
Directed by Andy Fickman – see She’s the Man – and written by Nick Bakay and Kevin James himself, the story is once again centered on the New Jersey mall security officer, Paul Blart (James) whose life after foiling the Black Friday heist six years ago, is currently down in the dumps. See, his one true love, Amy (Mays) has decided to leave him after only six days of marriage – the explanation is never really given – and his mother (Knight) passes away, leaving Paul to raise his teenage daughter, Maya (Rodriguez) all by himself.
Watching his daughter grow up is something that Paul is struggling with, and when an opportunity to travel to Las Vegas to attend a small Security Officers Convention comes up, Paul and Maya pack their bags and head to Sin City for a much-needed vacation. Unfortunately, their holiday is soon interjected by a group of professional thieves, led by super-robber, Vincent (McDonough), who have decided to use the hotel in which the Blarts are staying at as the target for their next mission. Can Paul save the day once again and be the hero he has been preparing his whole life to be?
Happy Madison Productions seems to have forever lost the concept of comedy and what constitutes a movie worthy of anyone’s time and money. The original movie - released back in 2009 – made some serious bank, grossing over one hundred-and-eight million dollars worldwide on a budget of twenty-six. So, no matter how disturbing that statement actually is, a sequel actually makes sense. Sadly, the efforts of a six-year-long production labor – which is nowhere to be found in fact - doesn’t really pay off as Mall Cop 2 is nowhere near as harmlessly entertaining as the original picture - which says a lot considering that the first movie wasn’t as amiable as we are making it out to be. It’s predominately worse. It’s worse than worse. It’s shameful and totally uncalled for.
The comedy, if you can really call it that, relies too much on James’ shape and size to elicit laughs - not to mention his immense talent of committing to pratfalls – and he is the story’s main attraction. He does well and if you’re a fan, there is some joy to be found in his latest shenanigan-filled debacle. However, if you’re not, you are probably better off giving Mall Cop 2 a serious pass.