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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.
Ludicrous, crass but also undeniably fun,Ted 2 - the sequel to Seth MacFarlane’s successful 2012 comedy, Ted –proves to be a more consistent and better drawn-out affair than its predecessor, even if the jokes – which there never seems to be a shortage of– don’t always land where they’re supposed to.
Picking up shortly after the events of the first film, Ted 2 is once again centred on best-buds and avid stoners, John Bennett (Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) who, as it turns out, don’t seem to be living out their happily-ever-afters with the women in their lives. See, John has divorced the love-of-his-life, Lori (Kunis), and Ted, who at the beginning of the film shares his “I Do’s” with his human-bride, Tami-Lynn (Barth), is in constant clashes with his new wife.
Deciding that the best way to reconcile and put an end to all the bickering is to start a family, Ted reaches out to his best-friend for help; a decision which soon proves rather messy. However, Ted’s civil rights are soon called in to question by the government who wish to brand Ted as property as oppose to a living thing, leaving John and Ted with no choice but to turn to the rookie – and pot-loving- lawyer, Samantha (Seyfried) for some legal help in an attempt to prove that Ted is a living being with rights of his own. Hence the tagline ‘Legalise Ted’.
Endless pop-culture references and MacFarlane’s distinct brand of abstract toilet humour is once again the integral part of the story. While the first film lent most of its focus on Wahlberg and his romance with Mila Kunis – the actress was written out of the script due to her pregnancy with husband Ashton Kutcher – Ted 2 shifts the focus onto the talking teddy and his battle to be recognised, essentially, as a human.
The decision to shift proves to be a smart move, although the film does tend to take itself a little too seriously at times; in addition, Wahlberg – whose deadpan delivery is almost always spot on – seems to shine more in his secondary role.
Ted 2 is neither ambitious nor smart and its jokes are often offensive and pretty vulgar. Nevertheless, it’s a fun goofy kind of vulgarity that will ensure more box office success and probably even a third film.
Chances are that the average moviegoer won’t be all that familiar with Ant-Man – not unless you’re a hardcore Marvel fanatic – but the previous anonymity of miniature-sized superhero who dates back to the 60s, doesn’t prevent it from becoming one of the most entertaining and successful combinations of action and comedy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Directed by Peyton Reed, the story is centered on Scott Lang (Paul Rudd); a skilled cat burglar who is ready to reunite with his young daughter, Cassie (Fortson), and put his life back on track after a stint in prison. However, finding the right line of work for an ex-felon is never easy and Scott is soon reeled back into his old ways by his friend and ex-cellmate, Luis (Peña), who convinces him to break into a San Francisco mansion to steal an old man’s fortune. After a successful break in, Scott finds no money; just motorcycle-type suit and a helmet. Convinced that the job is a total bust, Scott is soon shocked to learn that once he dons the suit and presses a special button, he is reduced to ant-size. Amazed at the discovery, Scott soon comes face-to-face with the suit’s inventor, Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), who’s looking to find someone with the right set of skills to take over on his invention and help him put a stop to his one-time protégé, Darren Cross (Corey Stoll), who has taken over his company and is now getting ready to unleash ‘Yellowjacket’; a special-suit threatening to endanger world order.
Much like last year’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the humour not only plays a large part of Ant-Man, but serves to be the driving force of the film. Embellished with a bold colour palette, Ant-Man looks fantastic it never becomes overbearing – something that many superhero’s tend to adopt. Written by Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, Adam McKay and Rudd himself, Ant-man’s screenplay is engaging and smart enough to give the audience the time to get to know and invest in the characters fully.
Speaking of characters, the cast is superb and for those who had doubts that Rudd - yes, the same guy who plays Mike on Friends - could pull it off, will be pleasantly surprised. Sporting an impressive six-pack, Rudd is extremely likable – and flexible – as the eponymous character, while Douglas, as the scene-stealing scientist, is the quiet force of the film.
Playing out as more of a comedy than a straightforward super-hero action, Ant-Man never takes itself too seriously and, even though it’s not as visually grand or as explosive as any of the Avengers films, it is still more than capable of standing on its own. Two (unlikely) thumbs up. How Ant-Man will come to play apart in the wider plot of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be interesting to see.