Episode 137 – Underworld: Awakening

January 25, 2012

Underworld Awakening podcast - click to listen

 


Underworld: Awakening  / Resident Evil: Afterlife comparison

The fourth installment in the franchise—and the proper sequel to the second film Underworld: Evolution—finds our heroine, Selene, awakening from twelve years in stasis to a world where humans have purged Vampires and Werewolves to the point of extinction. This is really the only place the franchise could be taken. This place being the Resident Evil films.

Co-directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein borrow more than a few pages from the Paul W.S. Anderson schlock-fests:

Page 1—We see a back-story of where a True Blood-style “Great Revelation” results in lycanthropy and vampirism being treated as like T-virus infections with paramilitary units going on search and destroy missions.

Page 2—Selene breaks out of a glass stasis tube, naked, in an Umbrella Corporation lab (here trading under the name AntiGen) and has to kill her way past endlessly respawning guards who luckily have a bad case of the Stormtroopers as far as their marksmanship goes.

Underworld Awakening / Resident Evil comparison

Page 3—Selene has to make sense of the world she’s awoken to while trying to complete a quest against insurmountable odds.

Page 4—Selene fights with rotten looking dogs in a dark, cramped space.

Page 5—Selene teams up with a preternaturally strong and intelligent child sidekick.

Page 6—A genetically enhanced werewolf bears a striking similarities to Nemesis, at least in concept.

Page 7—Selene shoots two guns at the same time. A lot.

Underworld Awakening  / Resident Evil comparison

But to be fair, Mårlind and Stein borrow pages from other sources as well. Twilight and True Blood get their due in the form of a love triangle between being set up for the unavoidable next film. An Edward-esque vampire named David seems poised to come between Selene and her missing werewold/vampire hybrid boyfriend Michael. Really, this film has everything.

Except zombies. I’m holding out hope for those later in the series. In fact, if the next film doesn’t see a vaccine for vampirism and lycanthropy going horribly awry and turning humans into the walking dead, I’ll be demanding my money back. And I’ll be swearing a lot while I do it.

What the film doesn’t have, besides zombies, are engaging performances by any of the actors—including a sleep-walking Stephen Rea. For a film that is trying so hard to be Resident Evil, they seem to have forgotten Milla Jovovich is interesting to watch even if she’s just eating dry toast. Kate Beckinsale is about as interesting as watching dry toast. The first Underworld film became a cult favourite due mostly to the Adam West-meets-William Shatner camp of Shane Brolly and Bill Nighy‘s terrible (awesome) performances. No one here seems willing to make a fool of themselves and that’s the film’s great loss.

What the film does do well is bulk up on the gore. Finally the violence in Underworld is as dark and visceral as as war between vampires and werewolves should be. Unfortunately you have to endure some terrible 3D at the same time.

Apparently this was one of the first features filmed with the Red Epic cameras being used in The Hobbit. Since Awakening features some of the worst cardboard cut-out 3D I’ve seen since the rebirth of 3D, things don’t bode well for Middle Earth. In several scenes it’s exactly like you’re looking at a diorama with layered planes of paper dolls instead of experiencing an immersive world.

In a lot of ways Awakening is a better film than the previous Underworld films. But that actually makes it a less enjoyable film. And if you’re just going to see Beckinsale’s ass wrapped in vinyl, find a picture on the Internet—it’ll last longer.

Bitches Please. Matrix was first.

Fotoshop by Adobé

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Episode 82 – Residunce Evils and the 3 biggest sins of Afterlife

September 21, 2010

The most chafing costume ever?

We went to opening night of the fourth installment of one of my favourite movie franchises, Resident Evil, with the intention of reviewing it (RE: Afterlife) on the episode. Too enamoured with Milla Jovovich and Zelda we didn’t get around to talking about it much.

So let me lay-out for you what’s wrong with it here in these (very late) show notes. Be warned, I’m not going to shy away from spoilers but, since this movie has probably been dropped from theatres by the time this post goes live, you’ve had your chance to remain spoiler-free.

First off, like I’ve said all over the internet, I love the Resident Evil films because they’re the “greasiest cheese.” I went into the opening night showing not just prepared for le fromage, I was hungry for it.

Simply put: Afterlife delivers the curds.

Paul W. S. Anderson and co. seem to be taking the film franchise seriously. Unfortunately, not only are they taking it far too seriously, they shouldn’t be taking it seriously at all.

What began as a series of underdog B-movie mash-ups of The Matrix, The Cube and every George A. Romero flick, is apparently now being treated as an epic approaching the grandeur of Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. Or, more accurately, the aforementioned Matrix trilogy. A seemingly lofty goal until you consider that the Matrix trilogy was a pretty hokey affair to begin with. The risk of emulating a pop-culture watermark like Keanu’s cyber-fu adventure, is ending up as merely another second-rate knock-off cluttering up people’s Netflix queues. Afterlife suffers this fate in three main ways.

1: Lack of LOLZ. The first film got by as a decent action/horror film in its own right. Cheesy, yes, but that’s exactly what makes a decent action/horror film decent. Without a few yuks along the way to a zombie headshot, there’s really no point. With diminishing returns on the storyline and acting fronts, the only thing the second two installments of the series had going for them was unintentional comic relief. Afterlife‘s overly pretentious atmosphere significantly mutes the potential for sniggering at poorly delivered dialogue and cheesy snuff-lines.

2: The baddie is the baddest baddie ever. But not “bad” meaning good. He just sucks. He basically does the worst impression of your drunk friend’s worst Agent Smith impression the entire time he’s on screen. But he dresses like Neo. Actually, if your drunk friend was Keanu, you have a pretty good idea of this guy’s Agent Smith act. Only it’s not as good as when Keanu does it.

You’re probably wondering how this doesn’t factor into point #1 and the LOLZ. Remember Shane Brolly‘s hilarious performance as Kraven in the Underworld movies? Along with Bill Nighy, he saved that movie. This guy’s performance is that bad. Only somehow too absolutely meh to even be amusing.

3: Third time’s the charm. You can always tell when a director has disappeared up his own ass because the film doesn’t start until the third act. Their own rectum acting as a blindfold prevents them from seeing no one cares about Alice‘s trip down Amelia Earhart lane. Her whole discovery, or lack of discovery, of “Arcadia” in Alaska should have been told in a series of quick flashbacks. Instead it’s a long and ultimately pointless lead-up to where the story actually picks up in Los Angeles. Say what you will about the first three films, but the pacing was flawless (or nearly flawless) in all three.

It’s a fault that could be forgivable if the film didn’t begin with the final scene from the Matrix. Only replace the Agent Smith clones with Alice clones and add guns. Lots of guns. Too many guns.

It’s like the action sequences that open James Bond films—a bit of excitement that has nothing to do with the rest of the film, but whets your appetite for more. Unlike a Bond film though, this is a sensory barrage that deadens you to the rest of the film and perhaps any experience you’ll have in your life ever again.

Come to think of it, it was actually the perfect ending to Extinction. A little George Lucas-style re-cutting in future DVD editions and the two films could be somewhat salvaged.

Even if they don’t do that, and in spite of the film’s failings, I’ll probably still buy the DVD when it’s released. It’s always good to have plenty of greasy cheese on hand to help you get through those killer hang-overs.


Short-form Formspring answers sprung

July 5, 2010

Who were Yonge and Bloor?

Trapeze artists in the early 1900’s. They came to Toronto seeking fame and, hopefully, fortune but instead plummeted to their deaths in the center of what is now a busy intersection. Trapeze Marketing (www.trapeze.com) was actually named in honour of their tragic demise. ~ Toronto Historian, Jakob

Is this a pimple, or a boil?

It’s an extra nipple. The seeping white liquid is milk. Harvest it and put it in the coffee of your house guests. ~ Dr. Jakob

Are either of you Studio Ghibli fans?

Mandi: Haaaaaammmm!

Jakob: In Toy Story 3 last night, I responded to the Totoro cameo by cooing, out loud, “Totoro!” The Japanese girl sitting beside me giggled. Later, she bawled at the end of the movie. Some people might call this the result of “heavy-handed emotional cues” but they have no soul.

We probably have more Studio Ghibli movies on our shelf than any other franchise besides Star Trek.

Response via Facebook: I do so have a soul. (Kyprieth)

The end: Nigh or not nigh?

As long as Bill Nighy is involved, it’s all going to be okay.

Seriously though, I think we’re at the end of the beginning of the end but the end of the end is still quite a ways off from beginning since we have to get through the whole middle of the end before the beginning of the end of the middle begins and the end can truly begin. ~ Prophet Jakob

You ask, we’ll answer: www.formspring.me/nerdhurdles


Episode #45 – Elf, Actually (X-mas movies)

December 23, 2009

Christmas is a time of love and peace and joy and goodwill and massive movie hurdles. Why are Christmas movies so freakin’ terrible? Why are they so freakin’ wonderful? How is it they can be both at the same time? It’s a Christmas miracle.

Speaking of wonderful and terrible, the below Christmas special is something… uh, special. Forward to the 0m45s mark for the good bits. “Is snow!”

What would make it better though? Badgers!

For those who might be interested: a 192kbs stereo version of the easter egg song (Wookie Toucher) can be downloaded HERE.


Episode 41 – Underworld

November 27, 2009

Last weekend New Moon opened and in the process broke a bunch of box-office records or something. Clearly teenage girls like the whole vampires vs werewolves thing. Or maybe they just like hunk vs. hunk. I’m almost tempted to check out some Jacob/Edward fic, but I think I’ll refrain.

But if Twilight is the domain of teenage girls, a certain type of young man (*cough* basement nerd *cough*) goes for another vampires vs. werewolves franchise, Underworld. This has a lot, I suspect, to do with Kate Beckinsale‘s vinyl onesie.

Underworld gave us a lot to talk about. For instance werecats (personally, I’d want to turn into a Russian Fishing Cat) and Perfect Strangers. Which are sort of combined here in this fabulous video:


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