Tag Archives: Werewolves

Underworld Awakening

2 Feb , 2012,
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Underworld: Awakening - Poster Art.

You’d think that after 3 movies, the Underworld franchise would go to pot. After all, there’s only so much you can do with vampires, werewolves, and their perennial war in the shadows.

And then suddenly, humans come along, and you realize that hey, they’re really trying their damnedest to milk the franchise.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I appreciate Underworld’s latest iteration Awakening for all it’s juicy bits – the fluid choreography, the intense sequences, the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale as Death Dealer Selene – but like it’s earlier installments, this film remains mired in hackneyed World of Darkness tropes and a water-thin plot that only just manages to pass muster.

With the elders all but dead and all order crumbling, vampires and werewolves alike are hard pressed to fight against a new enemy – the humans they’ve herded and victimized for centuries.

The public has discovered the presence of the “Infected”, and their reaction is anything but friendly.

Selene and her hybrid beau Michael (played by a faceless extra this time) are caught in the resultant purges, and when the huntress wakes up from her cryogenic sleep, more than a decade had passed.

Breaking out from the medical facility where she’s held, she discovers that it’s a different world out there, that her erstwhile beau is dead, and that her only link to the past is Subject 2, the daughter she’d somehow conceived during her twelve-year torpor.

And get this, that’s just the setup. The next half of the story has, predictably, Selene doing what she does best – dealing death with twin guns blazing as she embarks on a quest for some answers.

Plot aside, the show manages to plod credibly forward thanks to Beckinsale’s powerful performance. It’s a shame Scott Speedman (who played Michael Corvin in Underworld 1 & 2) had to give this one a miss though.

Directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein have to be commended for their aesthetic choices in the creation of this film. Awakening was decidedly gorier, darker, and more in keeping with the genre than it’s previous incarnations, and hopefully, that’s something we can expect in Underworld 5 (coming soon to a theater near you).

The way Selene tears through Antigen guards during her escape in the initial half of the show was bloody brilliant (pardon the pun), and it only gets better as the show progresses.

Ultimately, Awakening’s not all that bad if you watch it for what it is – a supernatural action thriller – and leave the grey matter at the door.

Old-school fangboys will also appreciate the fact that vampires and werewolves in this movie can actually kick-ass and kill stuff, and that’s always better than just looking pretty and sparkling in the sun, no?

Dylan Dog – A Doggone Tale

26 May , 2011,
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Dylan Dog - Poster Art

Dylan Dog‘s something of an underdog in comic book circles, never having quite achieved the same measure of popularity in the U.S. as it did in Italy. And that was kinda why I was surprised when I discovered that this obscure Dark Horse title had actually managed to make it to the big screen, and that it was showing in most cinemas here.

Simply put, Dylan Dog’s a title that mashes up old school noir with vampires, werewolves and a healthy dose of mystery. The titular character is a private eye that straddles the world of the living and the world of the dead, and every chapter or so, he succeeds in solving a new supernatural crime. It’s all very pulpy, rife with dubious femme fatales, the alleyway confrontations, and the eponymous rooftop encounters.

Don’t get me wrong. The genre conventions are all there (well, mostly there), but other than Dylan and his idiosyncrasies, almost everything else deviates from the comics.

Set in New Orleans, Dylan’s big screen outing thrusts him into the center of a murder investigation, when an antique dealer gets murdered by something tall, dark and furry. Things get personal when Dylan’s sidekick Marcus gets killed, and this propels him out of his funk, and into some funky detective work.

Along the way, Marcus comes back to life (as a zombie), Dylan gets romantically entangled with his client (what else is new), and tussles with both the vampires and the werewolves whilst hunting down the murderer and an ancient relic called the Heart of Vlad.

It’s a pretty standard B-grade story as far as things go. There are no funky twists, no unpredictable plot devices, and the humor (there’s a bit of it) kinda misses the punchline.

Brandon Routh made for a horrible Dylan Dog. While he could pull off the look, his voice just ruined the entire experience for me. He didn’t have the neurotic intensity I’d come to expect of the character, and overall, like his other performances (in both Superman Returns and most recently, Scott Pilgrim), came across as lackluster.

Sam Huntington, who played Marcus, was by comparison the better actor. He was the right sort of whiny, the right sort of smarmy, and the right sort of annoying. Few can do zombies with panache, and well, Sam is it.

The camera angles and effects weren’t entirely bad, and director Kevin Munroe (who also did the Ninja Turtles movie in 2007) demonstrated a high degree of aesthetic competence. The feel of the movie was sufficiently gritty, and the action sufficiently creative to not be a total bore. It was evident though, from the creature effects, and some of the special effects, that this wasn’t a big budget movie (as if all the B-listers on cast weren’t indication enough).

All told, this movie makes for a doggone tale.

It’s just another entry in a long list of Hollywood B-movies about supernatural dicks and their adventures in undeadland. And while it doesn’t do the comic book it’s based off any justice (just read the comics, and you’ll know what i mean), it’s watchable, in the same way that movies like Big Trouble in Little China and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes are watchable.

It makes for an excellent time waster.

My, what big cliches you have!

14 Mar , 2011,
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Red Riding Hood - Poster Art

With slim pickings at the local box office this past week, there was only one film that evinced any semblance of fantasy, and that was Red Riding Hood.

Helmed by Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the alternately acclaimed and reviled Twilight Saga, Red Riding Hood casts Amanda Seyfried (who isn’t actually half bad) in the role of Valerie, a spunky lass in the mountain village of Daggerhorn.

She’s in love with a lumberjack, Peter (played by Edward Cullen hopeful Shiloh Fernandez), but her parents have already betrothed her to Henry, the son of the town smith.

As if the cliched love triangle isn’t enough, we get a whiff of the supernatural – there’s a big, bad wolf on the loose, and it’s no longer capable of being placated by the animal sacrifices.

Valerie’s sister Lucy is the wolf’s latest victim, and as the village fields an angry mob (armed with axes, pitchforks and torches no less) to hunt the wolf, we discover that there is more to Red Riding Hoods tale than meets the eye.

Ultimately, Father Solomon, a famed witch hunter is called in, and Red Riding Hood turns from Heidi in the Alps into The Crucible, before climaxing with a classic Star Wars moment.

Hardwicke’s directorial efforts didn’t impress me. There was little to differentiate Red Riding Hoods treatment and execution from Twilight, and rather than being anything like a dark fantasy, Red Riding Hood turned out to be little more than another teenage romance with supernatural elements.

There was some attempt at unifying the mise en scène, and while Daggerhorn looked the part of a dreary, landlocked alpine village stuck in the middle of a perpetual winter, the whole snow thing started getting old after the first 30 minutes.

I’m quite certain the sole reason for it was just so Valerie’s red cloak could paint a pretty picture against a pristine backdrop, but considering Hardwicke’s credentials, I’d have expected something better. And while we’re on about that, let’s not forget how the boys’ costumes are color coordinated – Henry’s dressed in brown, while Jacob, I mean Peter, is dressed in black. Obvious, much?

The film’s saving grace was probably Gary Oldman, who played a pretty convincing cleric – he radiated smarm and self-righteous indignation, and his stellar performance put the relatively young cast to shame. Despite only a dozen or so scenes worth of screen time, it was good ol’ Gary who almost saved the show (though Seyfried’s intensity came in a close second).

Sadly, though, it wasn’t quite enough.

My verdict?

Watch only if you’re a Twilight fan, a desperate teenager with delusions of being spirited away by a furry, or a mix of the two. It’s a bore otherwise.