Sign in using your account with
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.
Disappointingly cartoonish and almost unbearable to sit-through, Barry Sonnenfeld’s Nine Lives - the Wild, Wild West director sinks to a new low here - is just as dreadful as its trailer suggest. The story - shockingly credited to a total of five screenwriters - is lethargic and uninteresting with Sonnefeld’s inability to ignite some much-needed energy or thematic effects into the mix, clearl throughout the entire ordeal.
The story is centred on Tom Brand (Spacey); an outspoken and a hot-headed New York real estate kingpin who is currently devoting all of his hours to putting the finalising touches on the largest skyscraper the world has ever seen. Working alongside his son David (Amell), Tom is a workaholic and his long working hours tend to keep him away from spending more time with his second wife, Lara (Garner), and their daughter, Rebecca (Weissman).
In an attempt to make up for missing out on his daughter’s eleventh birthday, Tom decides to buy her a cat from a mysterious pet shop owner named Felix (Walken). Picking out Mr. Fuzzypants as the gift, things take a turn for the wacky when, Tom falls off a roof and through a glass wall, losing consciousness in the process. Miraculously, he survives the fall but, when he awakes, Tom realises he’s trapped inside the body of Mr. Fuzzypants.
It’s seemingly hard to get excited or find anything nice to say about this latest talking-pet-family comedy that, considering its poorly constructed script and even worse special effects - seventy percent of the movie was entirely computer generated - seems lazy and uninterested in telling any kind of story to begin with. What’s even more surprising about Nine Lives is that it’s produced by Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp - the production company behind hits like Taken, The Transporter and Lucy - making you wonder what possessed them to take on the story of a human trapped inside a body of a feline in the first place. It just doesn’t make sense.
It’s not entirely surprising, though, that Spacey was chosen to play Mr Fuzzypants, with the Oscar winner and House of Cards star’s alluring yet coldly indifferent voice standing in as the perfect match for the role of the cat. However, thanks to a long-series of bad jokes - which of course include plenty of poop gags - lame dialogue and a script that can’t seem to come into its own, Nine Lives has racked up enough points to be nominated as one of the worst films of 2016.
Based on David F. Sandberg’s much-admired 2013 three-minute short film of the same name, Lights Out’s feature adaptation has just enough to it to earn a passing grade. Written for the big-screen by Eric Heisserer, the scare tactics used are unoriginal and seemingly predictable, however, Sandberg finds a way to infuse fear by generating a fairly creepy atmosphere while effectively playing on rational fear of the dark.
Lights Out opens with a sequence in a factory where owner, Paul (Burke), encounters a mysterious female figure in the dark, which disappears from view whenever the lights come back on. This comes after a phone call that reveals that his wife, Sophie (Bello), has gone off her meds is was talking to an imaginary friend called Diana.
Several months later, Sophie’s condition worsens and when their son, Martin – seemingly suffering from bouts of insomnia - mentions the name Diana to his half-sister, Rebecca (Palmer), she immediately recognises the name from her own traumatic childhood experiences and insists on having Martin stay with her. However, this doesn’t go down well with Sophie who soon arranges for Martin to return home, while Rebecca digs deeper in to ‘Diana’.
Lights Out is by no means an original or innovative supernatural horror, with Sandberg relying upon a string of cheap - and not always effective - jump scares to deliver the frights whilst utilising a piercingly loud and unnecessarily persistent musical score which seems to accompany every single BOO! moment. However, running at a lean seventy-nine minutes, Lights Out is undemanding, relatively simple and doesn’t take too long before jumping into the meat of the story. In addition, the atmosphere is spooky and watching the dark corners and waiting for something to pop out is effectively discomforting.
The performances from the entire cast are solid with Palmer - a blonde version of Kristen Stewart but with a bit more personality - offering much better delivery than what the script probably required whilst Bateman is strong as the young lead. Short, jumpy and to a certain degree, effective, Lights Out is not a complete waste of time and although derivative in nature - the whys and hows are also not all answered - Sandberg proves that he is capable of drawing out just enough chills to make Lights Out a flawed but fun summer watch.