I Miss The Elders






The newest Underworld has arrived after a three year gap, and I can’t lie I was excited to see the series picking back up, especially after the flop that was Rise of the Lycans.  So this past Friday, I paid a visit to the theater to check out this flick and I’m here to report on the movie.  Read on to find out if this latest installment is worth checking out, or worth waiting until it comes out on TV.


So in case you don’t know the series.  Underworld is a tale of a war between Vampires and surprise Werewolves, called Lycans.  Throughout the centuries, the two factions have been fighting for superiority and ownership of the world.  One vampire named Selene (Kate Beckinsale) is an elite Vampire who quickly learns the truth about the war and fights to eliminate the leaders of both sides.  This movie picks up where the second movie left off, and after a brief recap of events, we find both Lycans and Vampires being hunted by the humans with Selene being one of the most wanted.  However, she soon discovers a new underlying secret about the war, something that could turn the tide in an irreversible manner.


Yeah I know sounds exciting, and a much better story than the 2009 prequel.  However I’m here to say that the trailers have once again painted another picture, one that I wish had come true.  Underworld starts out with a bang, as Selene shows off her wicked fighting skills.  The action is just as exciting and fast as ever, though they have taken a strong liking to guns over close range combat.  Many of the action sequences unfortunately became nothing more than constant close ups of Selene shooting at the screen and someone responding to the digital bullets, which grew stale for me really quick.  I felt that it wasn’t until near the end when the classic action returned, which was too long of a wait. 


Normally in this series I don’t mind a lull in the action as the story was developed enough to keep me guessing the political game the leaders were playing.  That was not the case for this movie, as the story was much simpler than I had expected.  The plot I felt was rushed, and focused too much on finding this one girl (India Eisley) and trying to figure out her secret, which was pretty obvious.  Despite the pretty shallow story, there was a twist I didn’t see coming that was actually well played.  Unfortunately the motives behind this twist were disappointing and rather lazy writing.  Despite the sea of simplicity, there was some character development for Selene and the studio did a nice job adding a new layer to her already complicated story, while still maintaining her killer edge.  Beckinsale once again plays her role well and had me believing she was indeed a top-notch hunter.  Eisley as well impressed me with her acting, though her character was in need of some serious development that I hope we will see later.  The other two major actors Michael Ealy and Theo James also did a nice job with Ealy having the more balanced role of the two.


What else do I have to say about this movie?  Well fans of gore filled violence will have no problem with this movie as every kill paints the screen in a shade of red, a couple of times coming towards the camera in 3-D.  It’s here I’ll say that the action and violence is also well caught on camera and not flooded by spastic camera work.  The graphics also were okay, but I felt the Lycans were not as defined as they were in the first three installments.  It seems like the studio decided to put more money into 3-D shooting than into makeup, costumes, and probably even the storyboard writing, which I feel was a mistake.  The 3-D wasn’t horrible, but many of the battles were designed to have something flying out at you, i.e. bullets, whips, a snout, etc., which is not what Underworld is about.


Overall Underworld Awakening is a nice introduction back into the series.  It provides an opening for both old and new fans to get back into the series and provides enough action to rope any adrenaline junky into the mix.  Unfortunately the simplicity of the action, story, and graphics may be disappointing to veterans of the series, making them miss the Elders from the previous installments.  My biggest piece of advice is to avoid seeing this film in 3-D, as it is not worth the extra 5-6 dollars they charge.  Perhaps the next movie, which the movie hints is coming, will have more of the quality the first two movies had and return the series back to its full glory.  My scores are below:


Action Movie/Sci Fi:  7.5

Movie overall:  7.0


So until next time my friends, continue enjoying the movies and have a great day.

More about Brotherhood than Plane Fights


It’s been a while since we’ve last seen a movie made by George Lucas, at least one that didn’t involve Star Wars on Spike.  However, this weekend Lucas has come out of the woodwork to show off his newest project called Red Tails.  This self-funded movie, designed to be a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, showed promises of action and excitement.  The question one may now be asking is:  Did the movie deliver or has the trailers once again deceived us?  To find the answer to this question, read on.


This World War II epic starts out with adrenaline rushing action as we get a look at the problems the American forces face.  German troops, in their combat planes, fly in and tear up the bomber squadrons, as the heavy planes attempt to defend themselves in a style similar to the Millennium Falcon turret scene from Star Wars.  The solution is the elite fighter pilot squadron of the Tuskegee airmen, a group of African Americans who consist of Easy (Nate Parker), Lightning (David Oyelowo), Joker (Elijah Kelley), and Junior (Tristan Wilds).  The four men have been doing low-key missions for the government and, like most of the pilots, have grown tired of seeing little action.  It isn’t long though before their wishes are granted, thanks to the persuasion skills and reputation of Colonel Ballard (Terrence Howard) who is doing his part in the D.C.


Now from the trailer, I was expecting this movie to be mostly about highflying plane battles and aerial stunts.  Well my friends the trailers once again had me fooled, as the movie was more about the brotherhood of the fighters with a little plane action sprinkled throughout the movie.  Many of the actors in this movie were able to really bring this period of history to life for me, each of them portraying their parts well.  Oyelowo and Parker were perhaps the best of the actors and, in my opinion, were able to capture the best friend nature of the two down to the letter.  Howard’s portrayal of a military officer was just as good as in Iron Man, his calm and collected demeanor shining through to command respect from his soldiers.  Even supporting characters like Smoky (Ne-Yo) played their parts well to relief some of the built up stress and tension from the movie.  The other actor I would say was below par was (Cuba Gooding Jr.) who mainly just stood around and smoked his pipe, which was not his typical role.


The acting wasn’t the only positive thing about this movie though.  One major positive were the air fight scenes that Lucas and his team created.   The dogfights were nicely edited to deliver highflying action, which was interspersed with a lot of cockpit talk.  This style, which again reminded me of Star Wars, was interesting and gave the scenes some extra character that helped the audience keep track of their favorite pilots.  The graphics for these scenes were also decent, but slightly over polished, as the planes continued to sparkle and shine despite the outcomes of the battle.  For once I felt that the camera was actually able to keep up with the action, and only saw a few glitchy camera angles that were distracting.  The soundtrack accompanying the scenes was also very appropriate and the symphony was able to add another level of detail to the scenes to further pull in the audience.  Overall the scenes were done well, but my I wanted to see more of the Tuskegee’s contributions in the war.  The other strength I want to complement Lucas and company on is how they gave the pilots character.  Many of the pilots had some quality that the audience could grab on to, especially the ones focusing on loyalty, love and brotherhood that further made these characters believable.


Despite the large number of strengths, there are still some weaknesses to the movie that need to be ironed out.  For one thing, the dialog needs some work.  Many of the serious scenes in the movie were beautifully shot, but the dialog did not feel like it fit with the scene.  The only exception would be the comedy, which I felt was diverse, fun, and executed in perfect timing to keep the audience laughing.  A second major flaw is the predictability of the movie.  The dialog foreshadowed a lot of scenes and I was able to predict pretty most of the movie before anything really happened.  A minor weakness I found was the lack of subtitles in the movie when they were needed.  I found myself lost in a few scenes because I had no way of understanding their words.  Luckily a buddy of mine was fluent in the language and was able to translate for me.  Perhaps my final weakness is again the lack of emphasis on how important these pilots were.  Instead of showing a montage of their work, they instead reduced most of their missions to casual bar talk and story telling.


Red Tails is definitely a movie that brings the story of the Tuskegee airmen to life.  Nicely done fight scenes, great acting and character development, and a wide variety of comedy keep the movie interesting and fun.  However, those expecting to see a movie with nothing but plane fights might be disappointed in this film as the focus is again more on the soldiers non-combat lives.  I would definitely see this movie again if I have the time, but I will say that this film was not what I was expecting.  Regardless, I believe this movie is worthy of a trip to the movies, and I think many will enjoy it.  My ratings for the movie are as follow:

Action Movie:  6.0-6.5

Movie Overall:  8.0


So until next time my friends keep enjoying the movies and have a great day.