The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 1.30.12 Issue #193: Underworld: Awakening (2012)
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #193: Underworld: Awakening (2012)
Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never been hit in the face with a hamburger, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number one hundred and ninety-three, I take a look at the big budget B-movie in theatres right this second, Underworld: Awakening, starring the great Kate Beckinsale.
Underworld: Awakening (2012)
Underworld: Awakening, directed by Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein, is the fourth movie in the Underworld series, which started way back in 2003 with the first movie directed by Len Wiseman. Awakening sort of picks up where the second movie, Underworld: Evolution left off, with Beckinsale’s death dealer vampire warrior Selene in the modern world (Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, the third movie in the series, was a prequel). However, this time, instead of an underground battle/war between the vampires and the werewolves (lycans) taking center stage, humanity as a whole has apparently found out about the presence of both the vampires and the lycans and has declared worldwide war on them. In a fabulous opening montage we find out that Earth’s human governments have banded together and decided that both vampires and lycans needs to be eradicated, that they’re a disease with no cure and that it’s far too dangerous to “co-exist” with either of them. As a result, armed commandoes span out and take out as many vampires and lycans as they can find, often with special weapons. Selene is targeted in that opening montage and is hunted by several commandoes. As badass as the commandoes may be, they’re not as badass as Selene, as she easily takes out many of them. All Selene wants to do is get back to her husband, the vampire/lycan hybrid Michael (originally played by Scott Speedman in the first two movies but for whatever reason he didn’t come back for part four. I believe he appears in the movie via digital body double, at least that’s what it looked like to me) and get out of town. Sadly for both Selene and Michael, they both eventually get captured by the commandoes and put on ice.
Time passes (twelve years to be exact), and Selene wakes up from her cryogenic sleep to find out that she’s been a test subject for Antigen, an evil pharmaceutical company led by the suspect Dr. Jacob Lane (Stephen Rea), that Michael has also been a test subject of some sort for twelve years, and that she’s a mother. Yes, apparently she gave birth to a little hybrid girl named Eve (India Eisley), who has the same abilities as Michael plus all of the attributes that make Selene such a badass death dealer. While on the run from the authorities and Antigen, Selene teams up with fellow vampire David (Theo James) and human sympathizer Detective Sebastian (Michael Ealy) to figure out what exactly is going on. What is Dr. Lane’s angle? What is Antigen’s angle? Why is Eve so damn special beyond the obvious?
Like the other Underworld movies, Awakening is densely plotted and requires you to pay attention to just about everything everyone says so you know what the hell is going on. I paid attention and took notes but I think I missed some stuff. Normally, that kind of thing would annoy the hell out of me, but, like the other Underworld movies the insanely intricate Awakening plot is one of the things that makes it interesting. As long as the characters take the story seriously and appear to know what’s going on I can go along with them. The plotting also makes me want to check the movie out again to figure out what it is I missed. How many B-movies can you say that about?
The last third of the movie is a tad disappointing, at least at the moment, as I’m not all that thrilled with the grand conspiracy at the heart of the story involving the worldwide elimination of vampires and lycans. It doesn’t seem plausible (weird to say about a movie featuring warring vampires and werewolves, I know). Of course, my opinion may change upon further viewings. But, at the moment, I just find it hard to believe that the goal of the conspirators is, well, the goal of the conspirators. Shouldn’t there be something else, something a tad bigger, at the heart of this story? I mean, humanity declared war against both vampires and werewolves. Why does the conspiracy seem so small? Am I the only one who thinks this?
The action is, once again, top notch and exciting. I’m not sure why Marlind and Stein thought it was a good idea to have Selene use the same two handguns over and over again, but the carnage those guns create makes up for the monotony of having to look at her fire those same two guns over and over again. The fighting scenes are also excellent, both the “practical” fight scenes and the ones that are enhanced by the CGI. The CGI on the lycans is a tad overdone, but it never looks terrible (I will say, though, that I can’t wait for the day that CGI monsters don’t look like curvy cartoons). And the blood and gore on display is nothing short of glorious. Check out the ripped out throat towards the end of the movie and ask yourself if you really want to have spaghetti tonight. I bet you won’t. Awesome, awesome stuff.
The bit that doesn’t exactly play as well as it probably should is the “psychic connection” bit between Selene, Eve, and, presumably, Michael. It just comes off as incomprehensible flash cutting. And when you realize what’s going on with it it just doesn’t matter. Maybe it’ll matter more in a part five?
The cast is decent if a tad restrained. Beckinsale does her usual great job as the death dealer Selene. She hasn’t done one of these movies in, what, five years? She hasn’t missed a beat. She seems to walk confidently quite a bit in this movie, a bit of monotony that never gets old (I may be a pig for saying this but she looks great from both the front and the behind). Stephen Rea is disgusting as Dr. Jacob Lane. He’s slimy as soon as you see him and you just know that he’s up to something. Michael Ealy tries very hard as Detective Sebastian but he never really pops, even when he gets his ass kicked and he tries to put up a fight. Although, in Ealy’s defense, he isn’t given much of a part to play. You’d think, with Sebastian as the defacto lead human character in the story that he’d have more to do, especially since humanity took out the vampires and the lycans. Maybe his part was scaled down in editing and will appear in the DVD’s deleted scenes? I guess that could happen. And Kris Holden-Ried does a good enough job as Quint the lycan. He doesn’t have much of a character to play but he makes the best of things, especially towards the end when he basically has to walk around and make ridiculous faces.
Theo James does a good job as David, one of the last vampires. The knife he gets to wield is about as badass as you can get. India Eisley is excellent as Eve the hybrid child. She’s absolutely terrifying when she starts to freak out and beat the crap out of people (she makes those ghost kids from The Grudge look like Sesame Street characters).
And then there’s the great Charles Dance as Thomas, one of the last vampire elders. I didn’t recognize him at first, but as soon as he started talking I realized “Holy crap! That’s Sardo Numspa! Goddamn Benedict!” The movie suddenly kicked itself up a notch. I’m shocked that he hasn’t appeared in any of the previous Underworld movies as he’s a natural for it. Every second Dance is on screen is pure joy. Hopefully, if and when Underworld 5 gets made, Dance appears again because I want more.
And that’s what I want. I want more Underworld. Underworld: Awakening is a blast; a confusing, incredibly violent ass-kicking gorefest that makes you go “fuck yeah,” even when you have no idea what’s going on. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out as soon as you can. It’s definitely worth it.
You can even see it in 3D. There isn’t as much “3D stuff” in it as I’d personally like to see, but there’s just enough in it to make me less annoyed about the increased ticket price. I would have rather seen it in 2D, but sometimes there isn’t a nearby theatre with it in regular old 2D.
See Underworld: Awakening. See it, see it, see it.
So what do we have here?
Dead bodies: Lots (I was unable to compile an actual body count but I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it’s pushing fifty).
Nudity?: None, although we do get a pretty sweet scene where Beckinsale is completely naked. She’s just not showing off the goods.
Doobage: Montage of the violence from the previous Underworld movies, body burning, bodies wasting away, people throwing bodies into fires, rifle used as a knife, serious head smashing, awesome flamethrower attack, exploding flamethrower guy, impromptu swimming, a cryogenic bomb, Kate Beckinsale naked, nasty arm breaking, scalpel to the back, scalpel to the temple, multiple flash throat slashings, scalpel to the face, gunshot through the chin, bullet to the head that then falls out, neck biting, shoplifting, fence jumping, a very nice torn up human body, macho jock cop bullshit, body smashes on the top of a car, underground lycan attack, van stealing, window smashing, hand biting, automatic handgun hooey, an old square computer monitor, wrist biting, deliberate wrist cutting, a big ass lycan attack with machine guns, more serious neck biting, multiple “healing factor” moments, a bad hand injury, silver knife to the back, heart massaging, neck breaking, a gooey eye effect, plastic explosive hooey, exploding elevators, a dastardly silver dust attack, fight down an elevator shaft, using an elevator car as a weapon, a wicked lycan hand transformation, more head smashing, shotgun hooey, partial lycan facial removal, decapitation, a massive graphic throat removal, grenade hooey, and a very graphic exploding body.
Kim Richards?: Yes
Gratuitous: Kate Beckinsale, montage of stuff that happened in the previous Underworld movies, Stephen Rea, montage of a worldwide attack on vampires and lycans, flamethrower, Kate Beckinsale naked, shoplifting, a very nice torn up human body, a wicked car chase, Charles Dance, a big ass lycan, and oodles of graphic violence.
Best lines: “There is no cure,” “Put her back to sleep,” “There’s no way this attack was human,” “The guy in charge said it’s nothing. Yeah, and he’s full of shit,” “She’s not healing!,” “Stop worrying, it’ll come back to us,” “This isn’t prudence. It’s cowardice, plain and simple,” “My heart is not good. It’s broken,” “Pay heed to me!,” “Silver ammunition! Now!,” “Do you even know what you’ve done?,” “I’m not good with feelings,” “You said she was essential to our research,” “It’s worse if you try to fight it. Trust me,” “Holy shit it’s her! In daylight!,” “I heal instantly. I’m counting on it.”
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!
Please check out The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which can be seen here. There’s not much there at the moment, but, as time goes by, expect to see daily questions and musings and other B-movie hooey. And it would be cool if you “liked” it, too.
The Big Question: Anyone out there planning on not watching the Super Bowl?
The Super Bowl is this coming Sunday, with the New York Giants battling the New England Patriots for NFL supremacy. Football fans are excited, as you’d expect them to be, since the Super Bowl is the biggest game of the year every year, and fans of both the Giants and the Patriots are no doubt foaming their pants over the possibility of “their” team winning the big game. And there will be plenty of people watching the big game who don’t give a flying hooey about which team wins, they’ll be there for the commercials (or to be seen or whatever).
And then there will be people like me who probably won’t watch the game because… well, I just probably won’t. I’m not much of a football fan, and, really, I can watch all of the commercials on the internets after the game if I so choose. The past two years I’ve ended up watching stuff on my DVR (I blasted through five episodes of Blue Bloods last year) or The Sound of Music. The only thing I know I’ll be watching is the Puppy Bowl. That is always a hoot.
So, am I the only one planning on not watching the big game? Anyone else out there willing to admit that they’re just not that interested in participating?
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week
Nicol Williamson 1936-2011 RIP
(Go here for another great Williamson as Merlin scene from Exaclibur).
And now, the weekly Fearnet update
Fearnet, the only free all horror/thriller On Demand TV network features uncut, uncensored horror flicks from the past and present 24 hours a day, seven days a week, pretty much any time you freaking want them (as long as you still have power, that is). The channel also has behind-the-scenes stuff, trailers, and other cool hooey for you to check out. Check your local cable listings for availability.
Fearnet also exists as a regular old TV channel. This Fearnet airs horror movies roughly twenty one hours a day (there is a block of infomercials in the morning, usually from 6-9am est). The movies shown do have “commercial breaks” in them, similar to the breaks that currently appear on IFC, but the movies are uncut (blood and boobs and cursing are all intact).
Fearnet’s website, fearnet.com, offers free movies, interviews, news, and other behind-the-scenes horror movie nerd stuff, too. The Stephen King adaptationTrucks was on the site last week. Is it still there? Check and see).
The website also features Post Mortem with Mick Garris, a nifty interview show where big, fat Stephen King’s favorite director talks with genre legends like John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Roger Corman, William Friedkin, and others. It’s definitely worth your time.
If you’re a Facebook nerd (and, really, today, who isn’t?) you can check out the Fearnet fans Facebook page, which can be seen here. There are plenty of people out there interested in Fearnet. Join them. And, as always, thanks to both Mark Lindsey and Mathew Hirsch for info regarding the Fearnet fan movement.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Kate Beckinsale
Robert Hegyes 1951-2012 RIP
Things to Watch Out For This Week
- In Time: This sci-fi action flick starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried didn’t exactly get the best reviews, but I liked the preview and had planned on seeing it when it came to theaters last October but I missed it. It can’t possibly be as bad as some of the reviews claim, can it? Would Andrew Niccol really make a bad movie?
- The Thing remake: This is another late fall 2011 release that didn’t exactly get stellar reviews or box office. Universal probably would have been better off letting John Carpenter do his long talked about sequel, but no one at Universal will ever admit that, at least publicly. I still want to check out the remake/prequel/whatever the hell it’s supposed to be, though.
- Dead Hooker in a Trunk: I don’t know a thing about this movie, but the title alone requires checking it out.
- Treasure Buddies: Yet another talking puppy adventure from the fine folks at Disney. I’ve always been a sucker for talking animal movies, and despite my internet movie nerd status, I love the Buddies movies. They’re cheesy, they’re cute, and they’re hilarious. In short, they’re always awesome. And Treasure Buddies looks no different.
- Puppy Bowl VIII on Animal Planet: And speaking of cute as hell puppies, the eighth addition of the Puppy Bowl will air on Animal Planet starting at 3 pm est. It’ll be two hours of goofy puppy play, plus some kind of kitten “half-time” show, and more (there’s going to be piglet cheerleaders this year for some reason). Be sure to check it out at some point during the day (it’ll probably be on for like twelve hours, consisting of the first showing and five replays). I’m sure it’ll be far more entertaining than any Super Bowl pre-game show.
The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week
This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to ultra right wing conservative Op-ed writer Jonah Goldberg, for his ridiculous “critique” of President Obama’s recent State of the Union address. According to Goldberg, President Obama wants to rule over some kind of weird beard militarized America similar to North Korea because he talked about the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama Bin Laden twice during the address. So he’s not talking about the death of Bin Laden after giving the order to take him out to win the upcoming election? It’s all part of his, and liberalism’s, ongoing plan to destroy America? I thought President Obama hated the military, military families, the values of the military, and wanted to surrender to the Islamofascists? Why would he want to transform America into something that he allegedly despises to the core of his evil Kenyan being? And, Jonah, if you claim that you really don’t believe that President Obama wants to militarize America (or “impose martial values,” which you claim at the end of your piece, in the second to last paragraph), what exactly is the point of the preceding thirteen paragraphs? What the hell are you talking about?
It’s going to be a long ten months to the election if this kind of shit is going to be the norm from the ultra right wing media. Have they no shame?
And then there’s the news media, for treating the “Paula Deen eats a cheeseburger despite having Type-2 diabetes” story as if it’s actual news. It isn’t. It’s bad enough that the scandal sheet entertainment gossip media went insane about it, but the news media, sometimes called “the liberal media,” actually devoted precious air time to examining what her eating a cheeseburger means for her health and America’s health as a whole. America is in the middle of a diabetes and obesity epidemic, don’t you know.
First off, having Type-2 diabetes doesn’t mean you can never eat a cheeseburger, or cake, or candy, or any of that other “bad” stuff, so I don’t quite get what the story is supposed to be here. It’s also highly suspect (or, better yet, bullshit) that America’s weight and diabetes problems will go away or slow down if Deen stops marketing butter filled food and starts advocating a vegan lifestyle. If it’s as big a problem as all the experts claim, it’s going to take quite a bit more than publicly forcing a TV cook to start fixing more steamed broccoli to get anything to change. Wouldn’t it be great if the media reported something like that?
Yeah, I’m not holding my breath waiting for that, either. It’s just so much easier to act like all of our problems will be fixed if we get Paula Deen to change. Like corporate America wouldn’t get someone else, without so much “sickness,” to promote uber butter food within a year.
And finally there’s the Academy for Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, for refusing to nominate Andy Serkis for his exceptional work as Caesar the intelligent chimp in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Sure, the odds of Serkis being nominated were incredibly slim, so it’s not all that surprising that he didn’t get nominated. But it still stinks. What Serkis did in Apes was amazing, and he deserves to be recognized with something.
Of course, it’d be nice to know why the Screen Actor’s Guild didn’t nominate him, either. What are these organizations waiting for?
NASCAR and Indycar thoughts
Well, the 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is over, and NASCAR star AJ Allmendinger drove his Daytona Prototype team to seemingly improbable victory, beating back the struggling mega Ganassi team and running close to six seconds ahead of second place finishers from the Starworks team. Allmendinger, driving for Michael Shanks Racing, drove the last three hours of the race, something that apparently wasn’t considered wise since the general race pace was, according to the Speed Channel announcers, “fast.” Allmendinger was said to be “worn out” in victory lane. Allmendinger shares the win with Indycar star Justin Wilson, who hasn’t raced since breaking his back at Mid-Ohio during the summer, and Grand Am Series regulars Ozz Negri and John Pew. Could this be a sign of good things to come for both Allmendinger, who signed to drive for Roger Penske in NASCAR for 2012, and for Wilson, who will be back in Indycar in 2012, driving for Dale Coyne Racing? And how about Shanks, who is starting up an Indycar team this year? This win could give him the momentum he needs to actually get that team ready. And congrats to the Magnus Racing team for winning the GT portion of the event.
The big news in NASCAR this past week was the announcement that 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton would be returning to active competition, driving in the Camping World Trucks Series on a limited basis for Hillman Racing. Ward will apparently share the truck with his son Jeb, who, according to wikipedia, has been making a name for himself in ARCA and in NASCAR late models. It’ll be interesting to see if Ward has that old magic. He hasn’t raced since, I believe, 2007.
No announcement yet on what former Red Bull driver Brian Vickers will be doing in 2012. Yahoo claims that he might end up in the Nationwide Series, where he won the championship in 2003, or he could possibly hook up with one of the “start-and-park” teams and make a nifty living that way until something better comes up.
The big news in Indycar last week was Formula One driver Rubens Barichello will be testing an Indycar for KV Racing very soon. There’s no word, though, on what the test means. Is he just doing it so he can hang out with his pal and KV driver Tony Kanaan, or is Barichello testing the waters for a possible 2012 campaign in the Indycar series. I’d imagine the reality is he’s just doing it for the sake of doing it and that he won’t be appearing in the Indycar Series at all in 2012. Of course, since he doesn’t have a ride for 2012 in F1, I guess there’s a small chance he could do a few road races. I guess it all depends on how bad he wants to get back into F1 (racing on ovals, as he would have to do if he ran a full Indycar season, doesn’t gain you much respect in the F1 paddock).
Speed’s Robin Miller seems to know something about the return of the Milwaukee Mile for 2012, and there’s a chance that Rockingham in North Carolina might be interested in having a race at some point. I do know that Rockingham was repaved a few years ago and that it isn’t as abrasive as it used to be, but the track still chews up tires and is difficult to drive. Will the teams go for it, or will they want to stage a street racing event in Rockingham’s parking lot?
Well, I think that’ll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.
If there’s anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I’m always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.
And don’t forget to bookmark 411 via the little line below. You’ll be glad you did.
Kate Beckinsale- Selene
Stephen Rea- Dr. Jacob Lane
Michael Ealy- Detective Sebastian
Theo James- David
India Eisley- Eve
Charles Dance- Thomas
Kris Holden-Ried- Quint
Sandrine Holt- Lida
Directed by Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein
Screenplay by Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, J. Michael Straczynski, and Allison Burnett, based on a story by Len Wiseman and characters created by Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, and Danny McBride
Distributed by Screen Gems
Rated R for strong violence and gore, and for some language
Runtime,/b>- 88 minutes