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April 20th, 2018 Movie – Van Helsing

van helsing

You really have to feel bad when studios and directors have high hopes and expectations for a movie, only to have them essentially fall flat on it’s face. That is exactly what happened with today’s movie. This was supposed to be the first in a series of films starring the title character and incorporating many of the Universal monsters in them. Unfortunately for them, nothing much came of it as the poor opening weekend performance cause the plans for any follow up to be scrapped. However, I knew absolutely none of this when I went to see this movie in theaters. All I wanted was to be entertained and I definitely was entertained, though probably not in the way that it was intended. So let’s have some fun with today’s movie, Van Helsing.

The plot: In 1887 Transylvania, a mob of villagers storm the castle of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who has just finished bringing life to his monster. Seeing the villagers coming, Frankenstein wants to flee with his creation but his partner, Count Dracula, says he can’t allow him to leave, as he has plans for the monster. Victor refuses to allow Dracula to use his creation for evil and calls out for his assistant Igor to help him, only to learn that Igor has betrayed him and sided with Dracula. Frankenstein attempts to kill Dracula but Dracula mocks him, running himself through with his sword, then grabs Frankenstein and kills him. As this is going on, the monster breaks free from it’s restraints and throws some of the equipment at Dracula, knocking him into the fire. The monster then grabs Frankenstein’s body and escapes out a side passage as the villagers make their way into the castle, but Igor calls out to Frankenstein, alerting the villagers to their presence. They chase the monster to a windmill and set fire to it, and the Monster make’s it’s way to the top and yells out “Why” to the villagers, just before the fire weakens the building and he falls into the burning debris. Dracula makes his way out of the fire and rejoins with his three brides, chasing off the villagers before landing at the base of the windmill, where his brides cry out as Dracula simply stares, believing the monster to be destroyed. One year later, Van Helsing tracks down the monstrous Mr. Hyde to Paris and confronts him in Notre Dame Cathedral. During the fight, Van Helsing manages to cut off one of Hyde’s arms but Hyde gets the upper hand and, after throwing Van Helsing through the roof, he taunts him briefly before dropping him off the roof of the cathedral. Van Helsing grabs a grappling gun and shoots it through Hyde, stopping himself from falling, then attempts to pull Hyde off the roof but Hyde is able to stop himself from going over. Hyde then grabs the cable and runs across the roof, pulling Van Helsing back up with him, but he loses his balance and falls off the roof, then ends up swinging through the cathedral only to fall out the other side, transforming back to Dr. Jekyll before he hits the street. As Van Helsing looks down from the roof, a crowd gathers at the body and the police spot Van Helsing and yell out for him, as he is a wanted man. Van Helsing makes his way to Vatican City and attends a confession, where Cardinal Jinette admonishes him for breaking the window and killing Hyde, as it brings too much attention to the Holy Order. Van Helsing says he doesn’t like being known as the most wanted man in Europe and asks the Order help him but the Cardinal says the Order doesn’t exist, which is why it is a secret order. He then says that Van Helsing’s lack of memory is due to his past sins and his dealing with monsters is how he can recover it. He then tells him that he will be going to Transylvania to help a Romanian family kill Dracula, as their ancestor swore he and his family would not enter Heaven until they did so. The family is down to the last two members, Anna and Velkan Valerious, and if Dracula is not killed before they die, the entire family will be doomed to limbo. Van Helsing goes to see Carl, a monk that helps make him weapons to use, and after being shown the latest weapons, Van Helsing tells Carl that he is coming with him to Transylvania. Meanwhile, in Transylvania, Anna and Velkan lead some villagers in an attempt to kill a werewolf. The werewolf manages to escape it’s trap and chases after Anna, who gets trapped on the edge of a cliff, but as the werewolf leaps at her, Velkan pushes her aside and shoots the werewolf, just as it strikes him and knocks both of them off the cliff and into the water below. Some time later, Van Helsing and Carl arrive in the village, but are greeted by a mob of villagers. Anna appears and demands that they be disarmed, telling the villagers to kill when they refuse. Van Helsing says he is there to help her, pulling out his crossbow just as the three brides appear and begin attacking the villagers. The brides are focused on killing Anna and Van Helsing is able to save her just before the sun coming out from behind the clouds forces the brides to hide. When the clouds cover the sun again, the brides renew their attack, with Verona and Aleera going after Anna while Marishka goes after Van Helsing. Van Helsing dips his crossbow into some holy water from the church and fires the bolts at Marishka, killing her, and the other brides, sensing her death, scream in rage and fly off. Back at Dracula’s lair, Dracula wakes from his sleep and mourns the loss of Marishka, chastising Verona and Aleera for failing to kill Anna. Dracula says that his plans are almost finished and he tells Igor to finish training his new werewolf to kill Anna, while he retires with his brides to Castle Frankenstein. Back at the Anna’s home, Van Helsing speaks with her about where to find Dracula but Anna plans on going after him on her own, as she doesn’t want anyone else to die, so Van Helsing knocks her out. When Anna comes too, she senses movement in the castle and discovers Velkan is still alive but as he tries to warn her, he suddenly transforms, revealing himself to be the new werewolf. Van Helsing shows up and stops Velkan from killing Anna but as he attempts to shoot him, Anna stops him and when Van Helsing asks her why, she says that Dracula has a cure for lycanthropy and she wants to find it to save Velkan’s life. The two track Velkan to Castle Frankenstein, where Dracula is attempting to use Frankenstein’s experiment to bring life to his dead-born offspring. Using Velkan’s body to help channel the electricity, Dracula has Igor begin the experiment and the baby vampires come to life and Dracula has Verona and Aleena take them to the village to feed. Van Helsing starts shooting the baby vampires, enraging Dracula and he goes after him while Anna goes to the lab to find the cure. Van Helsing manages to stab Dracula with a silver stake but Dracula survives and calls Van Helsing Gabriel. Realizing that Van Helsing doesn’t remember his past, Dracula taunts him with his past and asks if he wants to know the truth. Meanwhile, the vampire babies attack the village and Carl attempts to help the villagers when the babies suddenly begin exploding. Verona and Aleena cry out in grief and head back to the castle, distracitng Dracula long enough for Van Helsing to escape. Meanwhile, Anna makes her way to the lab and after fending off Dracula’s minions, the Dwerger, and makes her way to Velkan but she is unable to save him. Velkan starts to change just as Van Helsing reaches her and they manage to escape while Velkan falls in the river trying to stop them. Van Helsing and Anna take shelter in the remains of the windmill and start to bond when the floor gives way and they fall into a chasm underneath it. As they recover, they encounter Frankenstein’s monster, and he tells them that he is the key to bringing Dracula’s children to life just before Van Helsing knocks him out. Anna wants to kill him but Van Helsing stops her, saying evil may have played a part in his creation but he senses no evil from the creature. When they spot Velkan above them, Anna tries to shoot him but he escapes and she realizes that he will tell Dracula that the creature was found so Van Helsing suggests they head to Vatican City with him. Meanwhile, Carl discovers a hidden painting depicting a vampire and a werewolf fighting against each other and he tells Van Helsing about it, but they aren’t sure what it means. Van Helsing loads up Carl and the monster into a carriage and takes off through the forest, only to be attacked by Verona and Aleena. As Van Helsing struggles with them, the carriage races towards a broken bridge and though the horses, and Van Helsing, make it across, the carriage doesn’t and starts to fall into the ravine. Verona attempts to rescue the creature but when she opens the door, she finds it was a booby-trapped decoy and she is killed by the stakes that fire out of it when it explodes. Van Helsing meets up with Anna, who is driving the real carriage, but they are attacked by Velkan, who sets the carriage on fire. Frankenstein’s monster helps rescue Anna and Van Helsing and they jump to safety, as Van Helsing shoots at Velkan when he leaps at them. When Anna recovers, she finds Velkan is dead and yells at Van Helsing for killing him only to discover that he was bitten. As Anna backs away in terror, she is knocked unconscious by Aleena and flown away to Budapest. Van Helsing, Carl, and Frankenstein’s monster make their way to Budapest and are met by Aleena, who tells them Dracula is willing to make an exchange; Anna for Frankenstein’s monster. After she leaves, Frankenstein’s monster discovers that Van Helsing has been bitten and Van Helsing apologizes to him just before knocking him out. Van Helsing places him in a crypt in order to hide him and he and Carl make their way to the masquerade ball to rescue Anna. Van Helsing manages to rescue her before Dracula makes her his new bride but Igor shows up with Frankenstein’s monster. The other guests all reveal themselves to be vampires and take off after Van Helsing and Anna but Carl manages to kill them with a sunlight grenade as they jump out a window. Seeing Igor carrying away Frankenstein’s monster in a boat, Van Helsing chases after them but is stopped when a gate closes and he yells out that he will find and free him. Carl tells him that Rome ordered Frankenstein’s monster to be destroyed and Van Helsing asks if he is to be killed as well, the apologizes to Carl for his actions. They return to Frankenstein’s castle to find all of the equipment has been removed and are at a loss for how to find them. Heading back to Anna’s place, Carl tells them everything that he learned about Dracula and Van Helsing figures out where the door to Dracula’s castle is. Giving Carl the missing piece needed to read the inscription, they are able to make their way to the castle, and Van Helsing uses his newly enhanced strength to carry Anna and Carl inside. Once there, they capture Igor and locate Frankenstein’s monster, who tells them Dracula has a cure for lycanthropy just before he is taken up to the tower. Van Helsing wonders why Dracula has a cure and Carl realizes a werewolf is the only thing that can kill Dracula, so he kept the cure with him in case one ever turned against him. Van Helsing has Igor lead Carl and Anna to get the cure while he goes to rescue Frankenstein’s monster and Anna and Van Helsing embrace and kiss before they separate. In the lab, Frankenstein’s monster is attached to the machine and Dracula has him lifted up to channel the lightning so he can bring his children to life. Meanwhile, Igor leads Anna and Carl to the cure but traps them in the room, where Aleena is waiting for them. Anna knocks over the container the cure is floating in, revealing it to be some sort of acid, and as Aleena screams in pain from where the liquid hit her face, Anna tells carl to grab the cure while she scoops up some of the liquid and uses it on the locked door. Burning away some of the bars, Anna tells Carl to get the cure to Van Helsing just as Aleena recovers and goes after Anna. Carl makes his way across the bridge towards the lab but is attacked by Igor, who uses a giant cattle prod to try and force Carl off the bridge. Van Helsing makes his way to the roof of the tower amd works on freeing Frankenstein’s monster just as the first bolt of lightning hits him, starting the process. Noticing Van Helsing trying to free the monster, Dracula transforms and flies up to attack him, knocking him back down into the lab. Frankenstein’s monster tries to finish freeing himself just as a second bolt hits, bringing all of the babies to life. The resulting burst of electricity also serves to free Frankenstein’s monster and send him plunging over the edge of the roof. He manages to grab onto some of the cables as he falls towards the bridge, inadvertently knocking Igor off the bridge as he does. As Frankenstein’s monster clings to the rope, he begs Carl for help and Carl, disobeying the Vatican’s orders, agrees to do so, freeing the cable from where it is stuck so that Frankenstein’s monster can swing to safety. Meanwhile, Anna is knocked down by Aleena, who moves to kill her when Frankenstein’s monster comes crashing through the window, saving Anna as he knocks Aleena away. Back in the lab, the Dwerger all flee from the fires inside as Dracula swoops down to face Van Helsing. As the clock strikes midnight, Van Helsing transforms into a werewolf, shocking Dracula, who tries to reason with him but quickly transforms as the two begin fighting. Elsewhere, Frankenstein’s monster starts battling Aleena, yelling for Anna to go help Van Helsing, and she thanks him before leaving the room. Seeing Carl unable to cross the bridge due to most of it being destroyed, she uses the cables to swing over to the lab, having Carl toss her the cure as she passes him. Suddenly, Aleena slams into Anna, knocking her off course, and Aleena taunts Anna as she moves to kill her but Carl throws a silver stake to Anna, who quickly plunges it into Aleena’s chest, killing her. Back in the lab, Dracula and Van Helsing continue to fight and Van Helsing gets the upper hand when he suddenly transforms back into human due to the moon being covered by a cloud. Dracula taunts him and tells him part of his history, how he is actually Gabriel the Archangel, the Left Hand of God, and was the one who originally killed Dracula 400 years ago. Dracula offers to tell Van Helsing more but Van Helsing says sometimes the past should stay forgotten, just as the moon reemerges. Transforming back into a werewolf, Van Helsing quickly overpowers Dracula and bites him in the neck, causing him to whither and die, as well as all of the baby vampires. Anna enters the room and goes to plunge the cure into Van Helsing but he senses her and charges towards her. Carl enters the room and sees Van Helsing standing over Anna and goes to kill him, like Van Helsing wanted, but Van Helsing stops him, revealing the needle with the cure protruding from his chest. Carl then sees that Anna is dead and Van Helsing grabs her and howls out in grief as he transforms back into human, crying in grief over being responsible for her death. Some time later, Van Helsing and Carl place Anna’s body on a funeral pyre and set it ablaze, while Frankenstein’s monster pilots a raft away from the shore, taking one last look at his friends before continuing his journey. As Carl reads a prayer over the pyre, Van Helsing senses Anna’s spirit and he looks away from the fire to see her reunited with Velkan, her father, and the rest of her ancestors as they all finally make their way towards heaven. As he watches Anna smile and shed a tear before turning and making her journey, Van Helsing gets a smile on his face and rides off with Carl back towards Rome.

Van Helsing was mostly panned by the critics, holding a 23% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A hollow creature feature that suffers from CGI overload.” The place where Van Helsing and Anna fight Dracula’s three wives is the same place where Frankenstein (1931)Dracula (1931), and The Wolf Man (1941) were filmed. The set is called the Court of Miracles, and it’s part of the studio tour at Universal Studios Hollywood. In 2012, Universal announced they were rebooting the franchise, modernizing it as part of a shared universe, with Tom Cruise to star but the idea stalled out and Cruise left the film only to resign onto the rebooted movie, The Mummy (2017). Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a modest hit at the box office, as it’s $300.3 million worldwide gross almost doubled it’s $160 million budget.

This movie is entertaining to watch because of how bad it really is. I mean, I was almost rolling on the floor laughing when I saw this in theaters. The acting was decent, with Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale doing good jobs in their roles of Van Helsing and Anna respectively. I also liked David Wenham (Carl) and Kevin J. O’Connor (Igor) as they both provided a fair bit of comic relief, but I hated Richard Roxburgh’s Dracula. The story was interesting and I liked the idea of having a different Van Helsing, as opposed to the traditional Abraham Van Helsing, but I think they tried to push the idea of him really being an archangel a bit much. I also thought the idea of Dracula’s children being still born and needing to be brought to life via Frankenstein’s monster being a neat idea and actually a decent plot point, but it could have been better served as the plot for a later movie instead of the first installment. However, those good parts don’t make up for some of the most ridiculous and somewhat pointless dialogue that occurred through this movie, as there were several times where it was just absolutely stupid. Now, I am kind of split on the special effects, as there were some good parts and some really cheesy parts involved. I will say that I liked the concept of having the werewolves ripping their skin off to reveal the werewolf emerging, giving a rather literal depiction of “the Beast within”. However, I hated the way the vampires looked, as they seemed way too blue in hue that just made it rather odd looking. I also thought Frankenstein’s Monster was a little too steampunkish in appearance, and the clap trap head of his was just ridiculous and only seemed to be there for a cheap laugh. So on the whole, this is not a good movie, but it can be a lot of fun to watch just so you can make fun of it.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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April 4th, 2018 Movie – Underworld: Evolution

underworld 2

Sequels, sequels, and more sequels. Sometimes it seems like if a movie has even a hint of making a profit, Hollywood will make a sequel to try and get as much money as they can off of it; sort of a “strike while the iron is hot” mentality. That seems to be the case with today’s movie. Despite the poor reviews from the critics, Underworld made a decent profit and Len Wiseman decided to pitch a sequel to the studio and the agreed to go for it. So let’s see how good of a job they did with today’s movie, Underworld: Evolution.

The plot: In 1202, the three vampire elders (Viktor, Amelia, and Marcus Corvinus) arrive at the edge of a town that has been slaughtered by Marcus’ brother William, the first werewolf. Viktor says that William must be stopped and Marcus reminds him of his promise not to kill him. As the vampires head down into the village to take care of the bodies, the bodies begin transforming into Lycans and attacking the vampires. As the battle continues, Viktor orders Marcus to retreat into the woods, saying that if he dies, they all die, as Marcus is the first vampire. After Marcus leaves, one of the vampires approaches Viktor and tells him they located William and Viktor tells him to get Amelia to help capture him, but Marcus sees her leaving with her men and follows after him. Marcus finds Amelia’s men using crossbow bolts with chains to capture and demands they leave William in her care but Viktor refuses, saying that William is to be imprisoned for all time and kept far away from Marcus, who is never to know the location of the prison. In the present day, Selene and Michael Corvin make their way to a vampire safehouse so they can rest but knows they won’t be able to stay there long, as the other vampires will know she is there and come looking for her. Selene starts grabbing weapons and supplies, hoping to get to the coven before sunrise so she can wake Marcus, the last surviving vampire elder before Kraven kills him and when Michael wants to go with her but Selene says she is going alone. Meanwhile, Kraven and his surviving men arrive at the coven and head down to kill Marcus before he awakens only to discover that Marcus has been woken by Singe’s blood when it dripped down into his coffin. Marcus, now a hybrid, kills Kraven’s men, then confronts Kraven, drinking his blood so he can access his memories, and after learning of Michael and Selene, he kills Kraven. Back at the safehouse, Michael still argues about Selene going to the coven alone but she tells him she might have a chance to survive and plead her case to Marcus but Michael will be killed on site. Elsewhere, a helicopter arrives on a cargo ship and some armed men disembark and approach their leader, and tell him the witnesses were silenced without being harmed as he ordered. They then show him footage of their getting rid of the bodies from the various vampire attacks and says that Marcus had killed and razed the coven. The leader heads to the morgue and examines Lucian’s body and is upset when he finds that the necklace Lucian wears, which once belonged to Viktor’s daughter Sonja, is missing. Examining Viktor’s body, the man finds a disk inside Viktor’s chest, which he quickly cuts out of there. Back in the safehouse, Michael is holding the bag of blood that Selene told him to feed on but, still coming to grips with what all has happened, he sets it down and leaves the safehouse. Heading to the nearby bar, he orders some food and starts eating only for his system to reject it. As Michael starts crying out in pain, a news report flashes on the TV showing him to be a wanted man and two police officers that are at the bar go to arrest Michael. Meanwhile, Marcus had gone to the safehouse where Selene and Michael had been attacked previously and accessing the computers, determines where the two are hiding now. As Selene makes her way through the woods, she sees Marcus flying towards the safehouse and quickly turns around and heads back herself. Back at the bar, Michael attacks the police officers, stopping himself from killing them and as he tries to escape, he is shot repeatedly. Selene hears the gunshots and quickly knocks out the police, then forces Michael to drink some of her blood so he can heal. As soon as he recovers, Selene tells him they have to leave but they are suddenly confronted by Marcus. When Selene tries to argue about Viktor deserving his fate, Marcus says he deserved worse and believes Selene knows some of the secrets Viktor was hiding. Michael shoots Marcus and he and Selene make a run for it, commandeering a truck to try and escape. As Selene drives the truck, Marcus and Michael begin fighting but Marcus throws Michael from the truck, but he is able to grab some chains to keep from falling onto the road. Marcus then tries attacking Selene but she manages to slam Marcus into the side of the mountain, damaging his wings so that he can’t follow them. As they continue driving, the sun starts to rise and Selene’s skin starts to blister and peel. Michael has her head into an abandoned factory and, leaving her in the shade of the truck, he works on covering as much of the windows he can, then uses a blanket to cover her and guides her towards a storage container. Seeing her injuries Michael goes to get a first aid kit and treat them but Selene shows that she is healing now that she is out of the sun. Continuing to check her, Michael and Selene get closer and begin kissing and eventually have sex in the container. Meanwhile, Marcus finds a hiding spot so he can rest while his wings repair. Elsewhere, some police discover the safehouse and the dead werewolf inside when they are confronted by the “Cleaners”, who knock them out, grab the werewolf’s body, and blow up the safehouse. The Cleaners contact their leader, who tells them to stay in the air so they can try and locate Selene and Michael. Back in the container, Selene is examining the necklace when she triggers a hidden button and as it opens, she has a memory of seeing it back when she was human. Selene tells Michael they need to go see Andreas Tanis, a vampire historian who was exiled, as he might know more about it. When they get to the monastery where Tanis was exiled, Selene falls into a trap and both her and Michael are confronted by Lycans but they are able to kill them and confront Tanis. Selene learns that Tanis was the one who created the UV bullets that the Lycans had been using and Selene threatens to use them on him unless he tells them what they want to know. Tanis tells her that Viktor was not the first vampire, like everyone was told and believed, but Marcus really was. Marcus had turned Viktor and his army so that they could deal with William, as he had no control over his actions when he turned. When Tanis reveals that Selene’s father was the one to build William’s prison, Selene realizes that that was the reason Viktor killed her family, as they knew too much once Lucian escaped. Tanis says that he can’t help them any more but directs them to go see Lorenz Macaro as he might help them. After they leave, Marcus shows up and talks with Tanis, who tells him about the double keys for William’s prison, just before Marcus bites into him to drink his blood and absorb his memories. Selene and Michael head to the ship and meet with Macaro, who Selene realizes is actually Alexander Corvus, the first immortal and Marcus and William’s father. Corvus reveals that he couldn’t bring himself to kill his sons but spent his life cleaning up after their endless wars and rampages, trying to keep the existence of vampires and Lycans from the humans. Suddenly, Marcus attacks and grabs Michael and impales him onto a pole, apparently killing him. Selene goes to fight Marcus, despite Corvus telling her she is no match for him, and Marcus easily grabs her and impales her arm, drinking the blood so he can learn where William’s prison is as well as the fact that Macaro is his father. When Selene attempts to shoot him, Marcus drops her into the water below and flies back up to the ship and Selene goes to Michael’s body and attempts to revive him but Michael shows no sign of recovering. Marcus makes his way to Corvus and reveals that he plans to use William to create a race of hybrids, with himself as their god, then impales Corvus with his own sword and grabs Viktor’s key from him. Marcus leaves as the helicopter returns and the last of the Cleaners find Corvus mortally wounded. They want to help him but Corvus tells them to bring Selene to him and when they do, Corvus slits his wrist and tells her to drink his blood, telling her it will help her be able to defeat Marcus. Selene and the surviving Cleaners fly off in the helicopter, carrying Michael’s body with them at Selene’s request, and after they leave, Corvus uses an explosive disk to destroy both himself and the ship. Meanwhile, Marcus has arrived at William’s prison and opens the chamber and heads inside. With Selene’s childhood memories coming back to her, Selene leads the Cleaners towards the prison and, finding the entrance underwater, she dives down to enter the prison, accompanied by the Cleaners. As they emerge from the water, William has already reached the cell and freed William, who moves to attack Marcus but Marcus is able to calm him down. Leaving two men to guard the entrance, Selene leads the other three forward only to find they are too late. Selene grabs the key just as they hear gunfrie behind them and they find William has attacked the guards and they move to kill him. Selene is suddenly attacked by Marcus and the two fight briefly before Selene uses the lock to seal Marcus in the prison room, not realizing that some debris kept the door from closing fully. Selene returns to the other chamber to find that there are only two Cleaners left, and they only have UV rounds so they can’t kill William with them. William attacks the two surviving Cleaners and Selene tries to shoot him and when the runs out of bullets, uses some exploding disks, succeeding in blowing a hole in the roof. As Selene grabs a weapon from the fallen Cleaners, she sees them suddenly starting to turn into Lycans and recalls Tanis’ warnings about the Lycan’s William created. As Selene attempts to kill them, the helicopter moves into position to try and help but they can’t shoot at them without risking hitting Selene. Suddenly, Michael is shown to have revived and he leaps from the helicopter and begins helping Selene deal with the new Lycans. After the kill them, Selene approaches Michael but he is suddenly attacked by William. Selene and the helicopter begin shooting at William when Marcus, having finally freed himself from the crypt, attacks the helicopter and brings it down. Marcus then begins fighting Selene while William fights Michael but Michael is able to kill William by ripping his head off. Michael screams in rage at the death of his brother and impales Selene with his wing talon, claiming Viktor should have killed her along with her family but Selene breaks off the talon and stabs Marcus in the head then knocks him into the spinning helicopter blades, slicing him to pieces. Michael and Selene approach each other when the sun starts to rise and Selene discovers that drinking Corvus’ blood has given her an immunity to sunlight, much like a hybrid, and she and Michael embrace each other.

Underworld: Evolution was mostly panned by the critics, holding a 16% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A visual and aural assault on the senses, this vampire-werewolf sequel makes a lot of noise and features a heavy-handed, overly convoluted story.” The girl who plays young Selene is Lily Mo Sheen, Kate Beckinsale’s daughter with Michael Sheen, her co-star in Underworld. Like it’s predecessor, the movie was a hit at the box office, earning $113.4 million off of a $45 million budget, which was a higher box office return but slightly less profitable than the original.

As far as sequels go, this wasn’t bad, but didn’t exactly blow my socks off. The acting was good, with Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman doing a good job reprising their roles of Selene and Michael. Tony Curran and Steven Mackintosh were both pretty good as Marcus and Tanis respectively while Derek Jacobi did a great job in his role as Alexander Corvus, giving it the depth that the character needed. The story was ok, attempting to close up some loose ends that were left open from the first movie, though I feel like they tried to do a little too much when it came to Marcus and his hybrid abilities. The special effects were good and the lighting was about the same, with the bluish tinge to the darkness for the most part while there were some scenes that were brighter which felt like it was meant to indicate a brighter future for both Selene and Michael. If you liked the first movie, you will probably like this one as well.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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April 3rd, 2018 Movie – Underworld (2003)

underworld

So, there is probably no way to say this without sounding somewhat sexist but there are some people that look good in leather, and Kate Beckinsale is definitely one of them. I think Len Wiseman took full advantage of that fact when promoting his movie as most of the trailers had scenes with her in her leather outfit, which got a lot of the male audience, and probably some of the female audience, interested. When this movie came out in theaters, I wound up missing out on seeing it but would rent it shortly after it came out on video. After all, a good vampire or werewolf movie is always worth watching and even a bad one can be entertaining. So let’s see what we have on out hands with today’s movie, Underworld (2003).

The plot: 600 years ago, the war between vampires and Lycans (werewolves) reached it’s climax when the Lycans’ leader, Lucian, was killed. The Lycans scattered and the vampires worked to slaughter the last of them. In the present day, Selene, a vampire soldier known as a Death Dealer, observes two Lycans following a human named Michael Corvin down into the subway. Selene and her partner follow after them but one of the Lycans, Raze, senses the vampires and begins shooting at them. Selene’s partner is struck by the bullets and as Selene takes cover, she sees her partner start to smolder and burn to death as if he was caught in the sun. Another vampire arrives to help Selene and as the vampires and Lycans trade bullets, the innocent bystanders all work to take cover or flee. When a bystander is hit by a bullet, Michael rushes over to drag her to safety and starts tending to her wound. Raze’s partner grabs Michael but is forced to let him go when he is shot by Selene. The Lycan flees and Selene chases after him down the subway tunnel and into the sewers, where she eventually kills him. Meanwhile, Raze fights with the other vampire, eventually killing him when he transforms into his werewolf form, and goes after Selene but she is able to hold him at bay when she throws 4 silver shuriken disks into him. Grabbing the dead Lycan’s gun, which Selene noticed contained some strange, glowing bullets, Selene makes her way through the sewers to leave when she hears the sounds of a large, Lycan den somewhere further in the sewers but quickly leaves when she hears more Lycans approaching. Inside the den, two Lycans are fighting each other when Lucian appears and stops them. Selene returns to her coven and shows the head of the Death Dealers the Lycans’ weapon and he figures it is artificial ultra-violet radiation intended as some sort of military tracer round. Kraven, the vampire regent, shows up and Selene says they should send the Death Dealers in force down into the sewers to deal with the den and she wants to lead the team but Kraven refuses, saying that it is too close to the Awakening to risk it. Selene goes to look through the pictures and realizes that the Lycans were following Michael and she tries to tell Kraven but he tells her to let it go and get ready for the party that evening. Back in the Lycans’ den, a scientist named Singe is checking blood samples from the descendants of the Corvinus bloodline and when the most recent one failed, he tells Lucian that Michael is the last chance of finding a pure strain of the bloodline. Meanwhile, Selene leaves the coven and heads to Michael’s apartment and when he gets there, she questions him about why the Lycans are after him. Before Michael can answer, they are attacked by Lycans and as Selene deals with them, Michael runs for the elevator to get away. When Michael gets to the ground floor, he is confronted by Lucian and Selene, who had followed after Michael, shoots Lucian but Lucian falls onto Michael and bites him. Selene grabs Michael and drags him out of the elevator while Lucian spits Michael’s blood into a vial, then dislodges the silver bullets from his skin and gives chase. Lucian manages to leap onto Selene’s car and starts stabbing through the roof, eventually wounding Selene but she is able to dislodge him from the car, then strike him with it as she continues to escape. Michael wants to be let out and Selene refuses but ends up passing out and the car crashes into the river. Michael saves Selene and carries her to shelter before passing out himself, plagued by visions of Lycans being tortured by vampires. Meanwhile, Lucian returns to the den and gives Singe the vial with Michael’s blood and as Singe begins to test it, Lucian tells him that he bit Michael so soon he would be looking for them. When Selene comes too, she takes Michael back to the coven and when he learns of this, Kraven chastises her for her actions. Meanwhile, another vampire, Erika, is examining Michael when she discovers the bite just as Michael wakes up and escapes the coven. Kraven leaves the coven and meets up with Lucian, revealing that they were working together, and Lucian tells Kraven that Michael is no concern of his. Meanwhile, Selene is suspicious of Kraven’s story of killing Lucian, believing that Lucian is the Lycan that attacked her and Michael. Disobeying protocol, Selene wakes Viktor, one of the three vampire lords, using her blood to start the process so that he would have her memories. Meanwhile, Michael goes to the hospital he works at and has a friend look at his wounds but when his friend goes to get the police, who are actually Lycans in disguise, Michael quickly leaves and heads back to the coven. At the coven, Kraven is angered to find Michael outside the gates and yells at Selene, who tells him she woke up Viktor and then leaves to go see Michael. Driving up to the gate, Selene tells Michael to get in and they drive to a vampire safehouse, with Selene explaining to Michael about the war between vampires and Lycans. Back at the coven, Kraven and Erika go to see Viktor, who is still rejuvenating after being in hibernation and when Viktor learns that he was woken 100 years ahead of schedule, he tells Kraven to send Selene to him when she comes back. At the safehouse, Selene and Michael are getting closer and Michael wants to go with her when she says she has to return to the coven but Selene says they will kill him if he shows up. The two get closer and briefly kiss but Selene had used the kiss to put a shackle on Michael, telling him that he will change the next night and she couldn’t risk him getting loose and killing someone. Meanwhile, in the Lycans’ den, the Lycans are all gathering weapons and preparing to head out for an attack on the vampires, with Lucian leading the way. Back at the coven, Erika works on taking Kraven’s mind off his troubles when Selene returns, and Kraven goes looking for her. Kraven yells at her, saying she was ruining the plans he had for the two of them, and Selene says that there was never a “them” and shoves past him to go see Viktor. When she reaches Viktor, she tries to explain about Lucian and what she knows but Viktor says believes Kraven over her and says that Michael must die while she will be punished for breaking the order. Kraven has Selene placed under house arrest and then sends his assistant to go meet Amelia, One of the other vampire lords, and escort her to the coven. At the train station, Amelia’s train arrives but is attacked by Lycans, who kill all of Amelia’s attendants while leaving Amelia alive for Raze to drain her blood, while Kraven’s assistant watches from the platform before leaving. Back at the coven, Erika helps Selene escape, as she figures with Selene out of the way Kraven will turn his attentions to herself, and Selene heads back to the safehouse. When she gets there, she finds Lycans approaching the building and she tries to fight them off, freeing Michael and telling him to get to safety in the process, but Michael ends up being captured by the Lycan police officers, who sedate him when he starts to turn as they head back to the den. Back at the coven, Selene brings Singe, whom she had captured at the safehouse, and he tells Viktor Lucian’s plans and why they need the blood of a pure blood vampire. When Kahn tells Viktor that Amelia’s train had been attacked and Amelia drained of all her blood, Viktor kills Singe in anger, then apologizes to Selene for doubting her before ordering her to kill Michael when they find him. In the Lycans’ den, Lucian is preparing Michael for testing his blood and Michael has more visions, realizing that they are Lucian’s memories. When he asks Lucian about it, Lucian tells him that Lycans were once the slaves of the vampires and served as their protectors during the daytime. Lucian ended up falling in love with Viktor’s daughter Sonja and the two were secretly wed but when Viktor found out, he feared a blending of the species and had Sonja killed, along with their unborn child, and Lucian ended up fleeing, starting the war in the process. Kraven and his men arrive, as Kraven knows that Viktor is now aware of his treachery, and as Lucian speaks with Kraven, the other Lycans place Kraven’s men in a locked room. Suddenly, Selene and the other Death Dealers arrive in the den and begin attacking the Lycans and Kraven uses the opportunity to shoot Lucian with a bullet filled with silver nitrate. Kraven’s men manage to escape their room and go looking for another way out but Raze sees them and chases after them, battling with Kraven’s assistant. Selene manages to locate Michael and frees him, telling him she has to get him out of there and when Michael tells her that they will kill her too, she says she knows and the two kiss. Michael tells Selene that he knows what started the war and the two try to escape but the encounter Kraven, who shoots Michael. As Selene drops to Michael’s side, Kraven tries to get her to go with him and when she refuses, Kraven tells her that Viktor was the one who slaughtered her family, not the Lycans, all so he could have Selene replace the daughter he had killed. When Kraven goes to kill Selene, Lucian, who had survived, stops him and stabs Kraven in the leg. As Kraven reels in pain, Lucian tells Selene to bite Michael, saying that he would become a hybrid that has both species strengths but none of their weaknesses. Selene bites Michael as Kraven kills Lucian, then flees when Viktor shows up and throws Selene from Michael. Viktor grabs Michael and throws him through a wall, then speaks with Selene, who asks how he could do what he did. Viktor says he did it to preserve the species, then goes to finish off Michael only to find that Michael had transformed into a hybrid and begins attacking Viktor. As the two fight, some Death Dealers show up and begin shooting at Michael and Selene kills them but is then struck by Viktor, who starts to choke out Michael. Selene grabs Viktor’s sword and decapitates him, saving Michael’s life and as the stand together, the surviving Lycans all head back into the shadows, letting them leave. Meanwhile, back at the coven, Singe’s blood seeps down into the crypt where Marcus’ body is and wakens him, turning him into a hybrid as well as he is also of the Corvinus bloodline.

Underworld (2003) met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 31% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Though stylish to look at, Underworld is tedious and derivative.” Underworld (2003) was the subject of a copyright infringement lawsuit when it came out, as both White Wolf, Inc. (creators of the Vampire: The Masquerade and Werewolf: The Apocalypse games) and Nancy A. Collins (author of the Sonja Blue novels) claimed that the plot and elements of the movie were similar to their own properties. The lawsuit ended up being settled with a confidential settlement. Despite the poor reviews, the movie was a box office success, earning $95.7 million off of a $22 million budget and would spawn 3 sequels and a prequel.

I will admit that this is not the best movie ever but it is a pretty entertaining movie. The acting was hit or miss in some cases, with Kate Beckinsale (Selene) and Scott Speedman (Michael) doing good jobs in their roles. I also liked Michael Sheen (Lucian) and Kevin Grevioux (Raze) but thought Shane Brolly was too whiny as Kraven. The story was interesting and I liked the idea of the vampire/werewolf war (seriously, who hasn’t always enjoyed a throwdown between these two classic monsters) while the hybrid angle was a nice twist to make it a little more interesting. The special effects were pretty good and I liked the design of the Lycans, making them look sleeker and not as furry as the traditional werewolf. The lighting for the movie was really dark, which fit the tone of the movie and the whole “underworld” theme but could be a little trying at times. An entertaining movie to watch and definitely set itself up for more movies to follow.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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