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April 5th, 2018 Movie – Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans

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Shortly after Underworld was released, the studio green lit a sequel and prequel to be made, solely on the basis of the early ticket sales. Well, the problem with prequels is that you are only going to get half of the known characters at best. Still, the idea of a prequel was pretty well set up in the first movie because the start of the war between the Lycans and vampires was really the only story they could possibly tell and I was interested in seeing how they set up the story. So let’s see how this war really got started with today’s movie, Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans.

The plot: 200 years after vampires and werewolves first came to be, Viktor has worked on killing off all of the werewolves until he finds a werewolf baby that was able to change back into human. Viktor decides to spare the baby, calling it Lucian, and as Lucian grows and becomes a formidable warrior, Viktor decides to have Lucian create more “Lycans”, which the vampires will train and use as their protectors during the daytime. Meanwhile, the woods in the area are still filled with savage werewolves leftover from William Corvinus’ rampage and the local villagers offer tributes of silver to Viktor in exchange for protection. One night, as Viktor’s daughter Sonja is riding back to the castle, when she is attacked by a pack of werewolves and she manages to kill 2 of them but three more are close on her heels. As she nears the castle, guards begins firing at the werewolves but it is Lucian, who works as a blacksmith, who manages to kill them with a crossbow. After safely making it inside, Sonja curtly greets Lucian and Viktor chastises her and says she should show some gratitude towards him for saving her life, then quietly admonishes Lucian for not showing the “proper reverence” towards his daughter. As the night continues, Lucian disposes of the dead werewolf bodies but feels increasingly frustrated over the vampires using himself and the other Lycans as mere slaves to be abused. Meanwhile, inside the council chamber, Viktor is being informed of the humans’ anger that the werewolf problem is not being dealt with and one of the vampire nobles suggests that while the Death Dealers patrol the woods at night, they could send some of the more trusted Lycans, led by Lucian, to look for the werewolves during the day. The noble asks for Sonja’s opinion on the matter only to find her seat empty and Viktor has his aide, Tanis, go and find her. Meanwhile, the Lycans are being returned to their pens but Lucian manages to sneak away to a remote part of the castle, where he is met by Sonja. The two reveal themselves to be lovers and after making love, Lucian talks about leaving the castle. He shows Sonja a key he made to remove the shackles and collar around his neck and Sonja begs him not to use it, as he would be killed on sight. The two dress and make their way back to the main courtyard but as they go their separate ways, they are spotted by Tanis, and Lucian notices him as he leaves. The next night, the human nobles head towards the castle to pay a visit to Viktor and Sonja rides out to escort them to the castle, defying Viktor’s orders to stay in the castle. As Lucian continues working in the castle, Tanis approaches him and warns him about where he fixes his gaze, as it might betray his secret. When Sonja reaches the carriage, the horses all start getting nervous and she orders her men to form up so they can escort the carriage. Back at the castle, Lucian hears the werewolves moving through the woods and realizes that there are too many out there and tries to warn the guards that Sonja is in danger. When they don’t listen to him, Lucian steals a horse and rides off to save Sonja. Back at the carriage, Sonja and her men come under attack by werewolves and find themselves overwhelmed when Lucian arrives and helps out, as does Raze, one of the captured slaves. After rescuing Sonja, Lucian realizes he has no choice and removes his collar so that he can transform and as he roars out at the other werewolves, they back away into the forest. Viktor’s troops arrive and shoot Lucian and Sonja tells them to stop, then pulls out the silver barbs before they kill him. When Viktor approaches, Sonja says he did it to save her life but Viktor says that he is the leader of the coven and despite the good intentions, Lucian broke his rules and has to be punished. Viktor has Lucian whipped in the courtyard as a warning to the other Lycans not to disobey, and also to serve as a means to dissuade the other vampire nobles from trying to trust the Lycans, hoping to instill his own xenophobic beliefs into the others. After Lucian is returned to his cell, Raze gives him some water and the two begin bonding before Raze and the new slaves are taken away to be turned into Lycans themselves. Meanwhile, the other human nobles arrive and pay their tribute of silver to Viktor but when one man refuses, saying that werewolves have attacked his workers and that Viktor can barely protect his own castle, Viktor kills him in order to dissuade the other humans from backing out on their tributes. Meanwhile, Sonja goes to speak with Tanis to find out what he told her father and Tanis says nothing, as he hopes to use his knowledge to get her to relinquish her seat on the council to him. Learning that Viktor plans to have Lucian killed, Sonja sneaks down to the cells and tries to convince Lucian to flee but he refuses to do so without the other Lycans, as he doesn’t want them to remain slaves forever. Tanis manages to sneak Lucian the key to his collar and when the torturer goes to kill Lucian, Lucian transforms and kills him instead. Lucian quickly works on freeing all of the other Lycans and they try to quietly leave the castle but the vampires catch wind of the escape and begin firing bolts from their scorpions through the walls to try and stop them. The vampires manage to kill some of the Lycans and fire enough bolts to form a barrier, stopping most of them from escaping but Lucian, Raze, and some others manage to escape, with Lucian promising to come back for them. Making their way into the woods, they stop to rest and Lucian has Raze lead them back to the noble’s house that he came from, and Lucian begins recruiting humans to his cause while gathering weapons. Sending Raze and the others to go gather more people to their cause, Lucian heads out into the woods and encounters the savage werewolves, hoping to bring calm them and bring them over to his cause as well. Meanwhile, Viktor tries to figure out how Lucian escapes and accuses Tanis of helping him but Tanis reveals that Lucian must have made a key to free his collar. Viktor then goes to see Sonja and ask her if she helped Lucian and then decides to see if she is lying by biting her. After drinking her blood and seeing her memories, Viktor learns of Sonja and Lucian being lovers and he tells her she betrayed him and orders her confined to her room. Meanwhile, more people have been gathering to Lucian’s cause, causing some of the nobles to grow worried and ask Viktor to do something about him. One of the noblewomen rides out to Lucian’s camp and tells him about Sonja’s imprisonment and Lucian wants to go save her. Raze tries to talk her out of it, saying that it is obviously a trap but Lucian says that if he doesn’t return, Raze should continue the fight or lead the people to safety. Lucian makes his way into the castle and frees Sonja, then tries to lead her out through the sewer entrance but Viktor, having discovered Lucian’s use of the sewers, drops barrels of oil and torches to light the tunnels on fire, attempting to trap him. Lucian and Sonja try to fight their way to freedom, with Sonja facing off against Viktor. Sonja manages to get the upper hand on Viktor and when he says killing him won’t spare Lucian, Sonja tells him that she is pregnant with Lucian’s child, saying that it is a merging of the bloodlines. Viktor becomes enraged and manages to grab Sonja and hold a knife to her throat while Lucian is captured. A trial is held and Sonja is sentenced to death so she is placed in a chamber with Lucian and the roof is opened up to allow sunlight inside, burning her to death. When night falls, Viktor enters the chamber to look at Sonja’s body and Lucian, enraged at what happened, manages to force the silver bolts from his body and transform, knocking Viktor down. As Death Dealers start to arrive, Lucian grabs Sonja’s necklace and attempts to escape the castle but he is shot several times by the guards and as he reaches the castle wall, he roars out into the night. In their camp, Raze and the other Lycans hear Lucian’s roar and are unsure what to do until the witness the savage werewolves all racing out of the woods towards the castle and they decide to follow. The vampires begin firing at the werewolves but there are too many and the castle ends up being overrun. Raze helps Lucian remove the silver bolts from his body and Lucian tells him to go free the others while he heals for a bit before joining the fight. Viktor tells Tanis to get the Elders (Marcus and Amelia) out of there while he enters the fight, Lucian makes his way towards him and the two eventually begin fighting in one of the lower chambers. As they both blame the other for Sonja’s death, Lucian traps Viktor in some chains as the sun starts to come up and stabs him in the mouth before letting him fall to the water below. Lucian emerges from the building to find the Lycans have won the battle and Raze says it is finished but Lucian tells him it is just beginning. Elsewhere, Viktor is shown to have survived and made it onto the ship transporting the other Elders and Tanis seals him into a hibernation chamber to heal.

Underworld: Rise Of The Lycans met with poor results from the critics, earning a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Despite the best efforts of its competent cast, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans is an indistinguishable and unnecessary prequel.” This movie is the first, and so far only, movie in the franchise not to star Kate Beckinsale. Rhona Mitra, who stars in this movie, was actually considered to play the role of Selene but was passed over for Beckinsale. The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $92.1 million off of a $35 million budget.

I will be honest, I am a little underwhelmed on this movie. The acting was ok, with Michael Sheen and Bill Nighy doing good jobs reprising their roles of Lucian and Viktor respectively. I also thought Rhona Mitra did a good job portraying Sonja but felt like the character herself was a little bland (no fault on Rhona’s acting). The basic story was pretty good but I felt like they spent too much time trying to set things up for the first movie instead of letting things flow naturally and telling a story on it’s own that would explain how things happened. The lighting worked well and helped make the settings more dramatic, especially the few times that the scenes were brighter, which really emphasized the moment in them. However, I was a little disappointed in the special effects, as there seemed to be no real improvement in them, despite the fact that 6 years had passed between the movies. It’s a decent entry in the series but I feel like they could have done more with it.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5

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April 4th, 2018 Movie – Underworld: Evolution

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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)

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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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action, adventure, movie, movie review, sci-fi, video game

March 26th, 2018 Movie – TRON: Legacy

tron legacy

Sometimes, patience pays off when it comes to sequels. Take today’s movie for instance. Ever since TRON came out, fans have been clamoring for a sequel but it really took off at the beginning of the century and in 2005, Disney finally decided to get serious with it. Now when I first heard about the sequel, I was really excited. I mean, TRON was so amazing in it’s special effects that I hoped the improvements in technology would make this movie just as amazing. So let’s see if all the patience paid off with today’s movie, TRON: Legacy.

The plot: In 1989, seven years after taking over Encom, Kevin Flynn is telling his son Sam about the Grid and his adventures in there. He also tells him how he worked with Tron and Clu to build a new Grid when something amazing occurred, a miracle Flynn says, though he doesn’t go into detail. Flynn leaves for work but the next day he disappears, throwing his company into chaos and causing the board to seize control of the company from Flynn’s partner, Alan Bradley. In the present day, Sam makes his way to Encom Tower one night and sneaks into the building during a late night board meeting. Inside the board meeting, Chairman Richard Mackey is touting the success of Encom to the board before mentioning their latest operating software’s upcoming release, praising it’s developer Edward Dillinger (son of Ed Dillinger), then says that Encom will be traded on Japan’s Nikkei index, resulting in Encom stocks trading worldwide 24/7. Meanwhile, Sam breaks into the server room, unintentionally tripping an alarm, and as the security searches for him, he uploads the master file for Encom’s newest operating software onto the internet before making his escape. As the board members discover what happened, Sam makes his way to the roof, revealing to the security guard that he is Sam Flynn, who happens to be the majority share holder in the company, and then does a base jump off the building but as he tries to make it to his motorcycle, he is captured by the police. After bailing himself out of jail, Sam returns to his apartment to find Alan waiting for him. After congratulating him on his annual prank, Alan tells Sam that he received a page from Flynn’s office at the arcade, even though the service had been cut off years ago, and suggests Sam go check it out, tossing him the keys to the arcade. Though he thinks it is a waste of time, Sam decides to head to the arcade and after looking around and finding nothing, he starts to leave but finds himself drawn to the old TRON video game. Deciding to play it for old times sake, Sam notices scratches on the floor and discovers a hidden room behind the console. Searching around, he finds a running computer, that had been idle for 20 years, and starts trying to access it only to accidentally activate the laser behind him, which blasts him. Not sure what just happened, Sam leaves the building only to realize that he has been transported to the Grid, just as a Recognizer approaches him and he is captured. When the Recognizer lands, one of the soldiers scans Sam and the other captured programs and Sam is sentenced to “Games”. He is taken to a chamber, where 4 Sirens remove his clothes and give him a uniform and an identity disk. Sam asks what he is supposed to do now and Gem, the head Siren, tells him to survive. Sam exits the chamber to find himself in an arena and forced to compete in disk wars with other programs, as a ship approaches and a masked figure watches from above. Sam kills 2 programs and then attempts to escape but ends up in a different arena, where he is forced to face off with the Games’ champion, Rinzler. As Sam and Rinzler fight, Rinzler gets the upper hand but before he can finish him off, Rinzler notices Sam bleeding from a cut he received and realizes that he is a User. The leader demands that Sam identify himself and when Sam says his name is Sam Flynn, the leader has Sam brought to him. In the leaders chamber, the leader unmasks to reveal the face of Kevin Flynn and Sam is shocked to see his father alive but after talking with him, realizes that it is Clu, not his father. Clu decides to kill Sam in a light cycle duel, facing him in a 5 on 5 team battle, but as Clu prepares to finish off Sam, a strange car enters the arena and rescues Sam. After escaping the arena, the driver unmasks to reveal a woman, who introduces herself as Quorra, who says that Clu’s forces won’t be able to follow as they are not designed to go off grid. Quorra takes Sam to a home in the mountains, where Sam is reunited with his father, who is shocked to see Sam in the Grid. As they eat, Sam and Flynn catch up briefly before Sam asks why Flynn never came home. Flynn tells him that when he first started working in the Grid, he brought over Tron, which Alan had built, and then created a new version of Clu, hoping that between the 3 of them they could build the perfect system. Then, one day, he discovered ISOs, isomorphic algorithms, which Flynn did not create but somehow appeared on their own. Flynn felt that they could help unlock some of life’s greatest mysteries but Clu saw them as an imperfection that needed to be destroyed and led a coupe against Flynn. Tron was killed trying to help Flynn escape and Flynn ended up trapped in the Grid when the portal closed, as it would only stay open for 8 hours and could only be opened from the outside world. Sam says that they should just leave now while the portal is still open but Flynn tells him that Clu wanted someone to open the portal, as he was planning something and needed a new player on the board in order to draw him out of hiding, saying that Clu needed his identity disk in order to try and leave the Grid and go to the real world. Flynn heads to bed and Sam feels frustrated that he doesn’t seem to want to try and leave and Quorra tells Sam to go find Zuse, as he helped her out during the fights and she felt he could be trusted. Sam heads to the city and is met by Gem, who takes him to the End of Line club. Back at the house, Flynn discovers that Sam is gone and decides to take Quorra and go after him. Meanwhile, Clu’s major-domo, Jarvis, tells him they found Flynn’s light cycle and traced it back to it’s origin so Clu, Jarvis, Rinzler, and 2 soldiers head to Flynn’s house only to find it empty. At the End of Line club, Gem introduces Sam to Castor, the club’s owner, who reveals that he is Zuse and seems surprised to learn that Quorra is still alive. Zuse tells Sam that he is someone that likes to play the angles, just as 4 of Clu’s soldiers drop in through the ceiling. Sam decides to join in the fight against the soldiers and Quorra appears to help him but she is injured in the fight. Suddenly, Flynn shuts the room down, allowing the resistance to defeat the soldiers and he tells Sam to grab Quorra and they go to leave but one of the soldiers manages to grab Flynn’s disk before they leave, only to be killed by Zuse, who grabs the disk for himself. Flynn chastises Sam for his actions but decides that the only thing they can do is go with Sam’s idea to make a dash for the portal so they board a solar sailer heading to the wastelands. While they are travelling, Flynn works on trying to help repair Quorra, revealing that she is the last ISO, and afterwards, he talks with Sam for a bit before heading off to meditate. Meanwhile, Clu shows up at the club and speaks with Zuse, who offers a deal to give Clu the disk in exchange for control of the city but Clu simply takes the disk and then blows up the club, killing Zuse and Gem. Back on the sailer, Quorra recovers and as they continue riding, Sam and Quorra end up bonding. Flynn sees them and smiles but his smile fades when he sees a Recognizer close by and sees the sailer pulling into a waystation that shouldn’t be there. Telling Sam and Quorra to hide, they see that Clu is using the station as a launching base for an army and realize they have to get to the portal to stop Clu. Seeing Rinzler close by, Quorra hands her disk to Flynn and then runs out to act as a distraction so Flynn and Sam can escape. When Rinzler captures Quorra, Flynn recognizes his moves and mannerism and realizes that Rinzler is Tron, who wasn’t killed but repurposed by Clu. Clu has Quorra taken to his chamber, along with Flynn’s disk, and he then speaks to his army, and Sam and Flynn realize Clu figured out how to bring programs over to the real world. Sam tells Flynn that they have to get Flynn’s disk and Quorra back and tells Flynn to get them some transport to the portal. Sam makes his way to Clu’s chamber, dealing with the guards along the way, and then grabs Flynn’s disk from where Clu had it kept. Grabbing Jarvis, Sam asks where Quorra is just as Rinzler arrives with her and Sam faces off against Rinzler, allowing Quorra to knock him off the platform. Freeing Quorra, Sam grabs a set of glider wings and jumps out of the tower with her, then races to the light jet that Flynn grabbed. As they leave, Clu enters his chamber and kills Jarvis for allowing them to take the disk, then he, Rinzler, and some of Clu’s soldiers activate their own light jets and give chase. With Quorra piloting and Sam manning the rear guns, they begin battling Clu’s soldiers and manage to kill them. When Rinzler attacks them, Flynn calls out to his old friend, causing Rinzler to fall back as his memories of Flynn reemerge, then crash into Clu in order to save Flynn. As Clu and Rinzler fall, Rinzler goes to grab his spare control stick but Clu grabs it from him and uses it while Rinzler plunges into the waters below, with his uniform reverting back to it’s original coloring. Flynn, Sam, and Quorra arrive at the portal only to find Clu waiting for them and Flynn goes to face him, apologizing for his part in their fallout. Clu attacks Flynn and when Sam goes to defend him, Flynn grabs Quorra and tells her she knows what to do. Quorra moves in front of Sam, pushing him back towards the portal while Flynn tells Clu to ignore them as he is after Flynn’s disk. Clu grabs Flynn’s disk only to discover that Flynn had switched disks with Quorra. As Clu’s ship appears, Flynn yells at Sam to take Quorra out of there and then merges with Clu, causing an explosion that destroys Clu’s ship and the portal area. Back in the real world, Sam downloads the details of the Grid onto a memory chip, which he wears around his neck, then heads out of the secret office. In the arcade, Sam sees Alan looking around and explains that he paged him there to tell him they are taking back Encom, with Sam making Alan the new chairman of the board. Outside, Sam sees Quorra by his motorcycle, who asks what they will do now, and Sam says that they will do what his father asked and change the world, then he has her get on the bike and they ride off, with Sam letting Quorra experience her first sunrise.

TRON: Legacy met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 51% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Tron: Legacy boasts dazzling visuals, but its human characters and story get lost amidst its state-of-the-art production design.” While Jeff Bridges was always slated to return, none of the other characters from the original movie were written into the movie. However, public outcry from Bruce Boxleitner and fans of the original movie caused the writers to add him in and his performance was so popular, he returned to play Tron in the animated series TRON: Uprising. The movie was a box office success, earning $400 million off of a $170 million budget and a sequel was planned but has since been placed on indefinite hiatus while Disney considers rebooting the series.

After years of wait, I have to say that I enjoyed this movie but felt like it could have been better. The acting was good, with Jeff Bridges doing a great job returning as Kevin Flynn/Clu, though it felt like a little bit of The Dude had made it’s way into his portrayal of Kevin Flynn. Bruce Boxleitner was also good returning as Alan/Tron, while Gerrett Hedlund (Sam) and Olivia Wilde (Quorra) were equally good but my favorite character was Michael Sheen (Zuse), who was the most entertaining character next to Flynn himself. The story was pretty interesting and I liked how they acknowledged the time difference from the original movie to this one, such as the computer in the secret office showing the 20 year idle screen. I will agree with the critics that the movie did kind of lack some character developement, but mainly regarding Sam and Quorra, who came across as kind of bland despite their being two of the main characters. The special effects were incredible and definitely showcased the advancement in technology since the original movie. I also liked that they tried to incorporate a lot of aspects from the original movie into this, from the Recognizers, tanks, and light cycles, to aspects of Encom tower and the laser that zapped Sam. A good follow up to a cult classic and one that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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