Review: The Strangers (2008)

8

“Well they want something. People don’t just stand out there, staring at us like that. They want something.”
– James Hoyt

SYNOPSIS: A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants. – via IMDB

After always hearing how good a horror The Strangers is, I decided to finally give it a shot with my husband. While he hated it to the core, I can’t say that I liked it an awful lot more. Where do I even begin?

I know! The logic of the characters! These two are just hands down the stupidest two I have seen together in a horror in a really long time. For one, he returns and finds her hysterical and he’s like “it’s nothing”. Then he’s all macho and leaves her alone and realises there are a bunch of crazy people out there stalking, and he’s just like “oh whatever”. Together these two progress to make some of the most idiotic decisions I have seen in horror/thriller in a while, and let’s face it, this is not really a genre of smart moves.

The two characters we are following are also not really nice people, so you aren’t really invested in their survival, either. The movie starts with promise, it really did, but it went downhill so fast my head is still spinning if I think about it. You just say The Strangers around my husband now and he will start a bitchfest about this movie.

The Strangers is overly vague, which would have been fine, had it just been a better watch. With better writing, the potential would not have been lost, and there was quite a bit. A nonsensical home invasion, masks, psychologically torturing people, initially a great atmosphere, the whole lot. But instead it is bogged down by flawed logic, unlikable characters, a score I didn’t like (too loud for action/music ,speech nonexistent), faulty pacing, therefore letting itself down before it even got started. The tension that was built in the beginning, the scares it put forth, dwindle in the face of the infuriating decisions made by the characters. Overall, it is nothing but a bland and frustrating experience.

Review: Underworld: Awakening (2012)

9

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“Do you think I’m foolish enough to take you at your word? No reason to fear a Death Dealer who fell in love with a Lycan, who murdered two of our elders, and who, at every turn, has betrayed her own kind.”
– Thomas

SYNOPSIS: When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrior Selene leads the battle against humankind. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6.5While this is not my favourite Underworld film, it has grown on me since I first saw it, which was the only time I saw it. I wasn’t bowled over, it was a bit messy, true, and all over the show, and I was dead set against it because so little Michael just shattered me. But I watched it again and it actually isn’t that bad.

I am not a fan of the humans knowing about the clans, and the wars that have popped up because of that. I don’t know, I like the vampires and the lycans moving in secrecy, fitting in. This was a spin that I wasn’t keen on, and as the movie progressed, I thought things got even more bizarre. For instance, the humans are hunting them, etc. but the further on it goes, the less the movie even focuses on humans, which is just silly. It becomes just about the lycans (building a super breed) and the vampires. The humans just disappeared. Hello, where?

A child in a film pretty much always grates on me, and this was no exception. I was not a fan. I understood the arc, but didn’t much care for it. At least the kid wasn’t around the whole time. I would just not deal. Aside from her, I actually appreciated some of the new characters, like Detective Sebastian, David and his father, Thomas. I was interested to see how David and his father didn’t always see eye to eye, both having different ideals and how to go about them. Then there was Sebastian, a human, but very much on their side.

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The one thing I really didn’t dig about this movie? The effects. They were beyond dodgy… looked like a bunch of first year graphic design students were given this movie and told to have a good time. I don’t know, it just wan’t okay all the time, and the other movies usually looked pretty good. Another thing? The story to this was, again, pretty thin. That being said, I suppose their is plenty action that is supposed to distract you from that, and the movie is shot pretty well and looks all dark and gloomy.

So while Underworld: Awakening has issues, it was still a light, fun watch. Definitely not as bad as I remember it, but it could definitely do with more Michael and Selene (yes, I will ship this for life man).

Review: Underworld: Evolution (2006)

2

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“For six centuries I was a loyal soldier to the vampire clan. But I was betrayed. The war was not as it had seemed. In one night, the lies that had united our kind had been exposed.”
– Selene

SYNOPSIS: Vampire warrior Selene and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them. – via IMDB

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GRADE 7So this film had some issues, for reals, but it was still not a waste of a film. For one, I really liked getting more history on the original players, because history is always interesting, and it just goes to show how consistent these movies are about what they are giving us. It is well thought out, so there aren’t tons of holes. I also liked how this picked up straight after the last one. The story is quite messy at times, to be honest, and just doesn’t come together as well as you would hope. There are so many issues at play here. I just wanted more bite (har har), and it didn’t quite deliver on that front.

I found that the effects were a little sketchy in this one, but that is hardly ever a make or break for me. The sets were not as great as Underworld, which is disappointing because I really liked the way that film came together visually. I was a particular fan of the way that William’s tomb/crypt/prison was designed – so intricate! The costume design was not my favourite thing in this one, either, which is a pity. So much more potential!

I was so pleased to see more of Michael and Selene in this one – the two just fit together and work perfectly. Not to mention I think that Scott Speedman and Kate Beckinsale work off of each other fantastically. They don’t have this super soppy romance; it’s edgy and heavy and beautiful, but they aren’t clinging to each other and swearing to die if they are apart. Plus they are quite a hot couple.

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Also, we have tons of action to focus on in this one again. Crazy big fights, some more of Michael and his powers as a hybrid, the love between Michael and Selene, and the never-ending politics of the vampire clans. There have been so many lies there, and now nobody trusts anybody. The story is (too) simple to follow, but the cast performs well, and it is always fun to watch Beckinsale be a kickass Death Dealer. Speedman was super easy on the eyes, too, and Michael is just… yeah.

While consistency is key, Alexander Corvinus having cleaned up after his sons and their offspring was something I was a little confused by. It wasn’t hinted at at all, and here you see this crew constantly cleaning up. Surely the vampires and lycans would have known if there was some special force looking out for them and fixing everything? Anyway. I did like that he gave Selene another gift, because it alters the way that the story could unfold, and the different plot devices at play.

Evolution is, without a doubt, not as good as its predecessor, and while it is a little messy, it is still infinitely better than most. It focuses too heavily on the action sequences and less on story, and for  me, that cost it some points.  That being said, me? Still a fan. Big one. It will take more than that to ruin these for me.

Review: Underworld (2003)

10

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“Whether you like it or not, you’re in the middle of a war that has been raging for the better part of a thousand years. A blood feud between vampires and lycans. Werewolves.”
– Selene

SYNOPSIS: Selene, a beautiful warrior, is entrenched in a war between the vampire and werewolf races. Although she is aligned with the vampires, she falls in love with Michael, a human who is sought by werewolves for unknown reasons. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5Man, oh man, I will never understand the low scores the Underworld movies have garnered online. There is so much to like about them, something that is becoming increasingly rare in the vampire/werewolf genres. Anyway, Underworld is shot really well. It is dark and gloomy every step of the way, so that from the opening you know you are about to get a gritty film. We return to real vampires and lycans – let’s face it, the lycans were terrifying. They weren’t these prissy regular wolves. They were big and menacing and scary, and these creatures still had the lines of a human to them, which made them super creepy. The film actually touts pretty decent effects, too, and an interesting story. From the off, you are interested to hear what Selene has to say about everything – why she loves being a Death Dealer, how her kind is dying off, and of this fascinating age old war that has raged between the two sides.

Speaking of, the politics were expertly handled, and you know I love some good politics. The betrayals ran deep, and the wheeling and dealing was great. I was a fan of the weapons both sides had created to combat each other. The lore was covered extremely well, too, and it was consistent. Selene, too, besides being super gorgeous in this, has an awesome relationship with Michael, and the two of them together just get me. It is so understated, and not in your face. Subtlety always wins out. Scott Speedman and Kate Beckinsale just gel together, and what a super hot couple! I WANT MORE!

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I enjoyed how expertly the storytelling was handled – initially you are anti-lycan, and only the vampires can be right, but as the movie progresses, the lycans change, and you see that everyone has been lied to somewhere, and that both sides have bad apples. The score complements the film every step of the way, too. Okay, as you can tell, I am a bit of a super fan. I love Underworld, and think it is a great example of the right kind of vampire and werewolf film. It manages to introduce you to an array of characters without losing you, giving you great backstories and lore, and has you engrossed in the progress, and the film is visually really pretty. Obviously I highly recommend you check out Underworld if you have not done so already.