Donnerstag, 22. Dezember 2016

Review: Underworld - Blood Wars

(Beware of Spoilers)

Underworld Blood Wars marks the 5th Movie in the Underworld Series and the 4th telling the tale of Selene the former Death Dealer who is by now seen as a Pariah by most other Vampires.

Since Blood Wars is based on events from previous Movies I'll recap them for you. If you are aware of what happened so far or you just don't care, just skip the next section:

_ _ _ _

Vampires and Lycans (Werewolves) are not the bestest of friends, meaning they have a war going on for centuries now. A war humans are unaware of.
Selene is a Death Dealer which means she is an Elite Warrior among the ranks of the Vampires and  she likes stand up comedy, nightly walks on the beach and hunting Lycans. I might have made up two of these things.
She discovers that the Lycans are stalking a Human being named Michael Corvin.
Turns out he is a direct descendant of the Corvinus Clan. A clan the first Vampire and the first Lycan originate from. Thus his blood is rather valuable for "things".
Long Story short: He gets bitten by a Lycan and later on also by Selene which should kill him but thanks to his blood it does not.
He becomes the first ever Hybrid, him and Selene fall in love, she also gets a nice blood powerup from another Corvin and three dead Vampire and Lycan Elders later they are free to just be a couple doing couple things because happy endings are nice.
Or at least they would be if Humanity hadn't discovered the existance of Vampires and Lycans shortly after leading to a massive worlwide purge that ends up killing countless specimen of either race.
Selene is captured and wakes up years later in a tube just as another test subject escapes.
Said subject is not Michael but a little girl, her daughter.
The girl gets recaptured and Selene teams up with a human Cop (he has his reasons) and another Vampire called David to rescue her. Turns out the Company that made them testsubjects was actually controlled by Lycans. They win and also discover that Michael is still alive and escaped during their attack. Boy I can't wait for a reunion!
_ _ _ _

Now this is were Blood Wars begins.
Selene is actually riding solo and she is hunted by Lycans who want to find her daughter.

Little do they know she has no idea where her daughter is as they split up to not endanger said girl.

With that the Movie starts out like the other Underword Movies.
We get plenty of early and entertaining action scenes and a plot that leaves no doubt that it will evolve into something bigger soon enough. A little bit of mistery so to say.

For a moment there it seems like Selene actually gets to breath for a bit but that turns out to not be the case at all. Betrayed by those who offered her a chance to make up for ths things she had done she finds herself on the run soon enough again, this time however she is not alone. Being accompanied by David whom we know from Underworld Awakening and following a hint from said mans father they travel northwards.

Up there they encounter a Vampire Clan with a more mystic touch which is nice. Sadly the Movie so straight forward and in a hurry that we don't really get to know them.
Blood Wars bombards one with Informations and revelations left and right and as far as plot goes it's probably the most complex out of all the Underworld Movies but you don't get the time to process any of it which is a shame.
What's even more of a shame is that we don't have to hold our breath for a return of Michael Corvin any longer.
The Guy just got straight up killed off screen to power up the Lycans Leader Marius with his blood.
Considering I was someone who really liked that character that got dragged into this entire war without knowing whats going on in the first place, this felt like a punch in the gut.
And he doesn't get a clean, swift death either, no he bled out hanging upside down.

Said Marius meanwhile continues the "tradition" that every Lycan of note (except William from Underworld Evolution) has to have a Vampire darling.
He is a decent Villain though and his demise at the end of the Movie makes you feel very good especially since it's a really brutal one.

However he is overshadowed by Semira, the other Villain of this Story. Not only are her manipulations effective and smart her fight scenes are actually the most entertaining ones we get in this Movie. I loved to hate her so much that I actually raised my fist at the cinema when her head was smacked against a mirror during a fight with David a few moments before she died for good.

Said David actually happened to grow on me, while I considered him in Awakening kind of an unecessary Support for Selene he almost steals the show this time. Not only does he get to interact and bond with his father Thomas, he also gets to wield a sword and have a really good scene with Marius in midst a battle.

But of course Selene still remains to be the highlight. She slashes, shoots and kicks her way through the fourth Movie that just wants to see her suffer it seems and you buy how sick she is of all of this.
She had to kill her mentor, she lost her partner (for the third time) and she can't be with her daughter.
She is a Warrior who doesn't even know how to stop fighting after all this time but damn does she come close to breaking down this time.
I honestly didn't care much for her new power up (althought it made for a cool hairstyle) and wish we'd rather get to see her dealing with the mess her live is.
Of course that would requiere her to have a moment to sit down and process it all.

At one point it actually seems like that is going to happen when she shares a moment with one of the northern Vampires. Said Woman is called Lena, a white haired mistery who sadly gets the short end of the stick when it comes to time that is decicated to exploring her character.

Instead we get to know a guy called Varga a bit better. Too bad he doesn't make much sense characterization wise. At first he is Semiras loyal fucktoy and servant, he attacks Selene, kills his students and does everything else Semira wants him to do.
But later he switches sides and it seems like the movie tries to redeem him somewhat.
In my opinion he should have died trying to save David or Selene if they really wanted to redeem him but now he kinda just sticks around and no one cares what he did.

At the end of the day Underworld Blood Wars is not a good Movie. It's however not a train wreck either.

The Plot is alright but everything happens so fast that we don't get to process any of it and some of the stuff that happens has already been done in earlier Films in the Series.
Whats more is that it seems at times like Humans don't even exist any longer in that Universe.
Sebastian from Awakening isn't even mentioned and neither the remaing Lycans nor Vampires seem to be concerned that they too will be purged. Considering how that was the entire theme of the last Movie that is rather strange to me.

However the action scenes are among the best the Franchise has produced so far, especially the duels, David grew to become a good character, we get a bit of mysticism back and Selene is still kicking a lot of ass while wearing tight clothes which is always a plus in my book.


Go and watch it if you liked the previous films, you will not love this one but you might enjoy it as I did.
If you didn't like the others you certainly won't like this one.

Sonntag, 18. Dezember 2016

Review: Fantastic Beasts and where to find them

(Beware of spoilers)

Before we start this I thought I'd clarify how I feel about the Harry Potter Franchise itself.
I'm not a Die-Hard by any means nor am I a hater. I read the books, I watched the Movies (as far as book adaptations go I thought they did alright), I had a Quidditch Card Game when I was a Kid (what do you mean that doesn't say much?!) and I enjoyed all of these things. I thought they were just fine and I still do.
Thus there is no reason for me to be super hyped nor super depressed should the film be incredible good or incredible bad.
In case you wonder: The latter is the case.

But let's start at the beginning:
We follow the Story of Newt Scamander a supposedly quirky, charming, introvert who is really bad at looking people in the eye.
Daaaaw he is so loveable and awkward, isn't he? <3

No. No he is not.
Basically this guy is what you'd get if tumblr were to design a character.
In case you have no idea what that means, let me phrase it differently:
Take Doctor Who, Cucumbercabbage-Sherlock, mash them together poorly and then make your new and toootally original character also a huge animal lover.
Needless to say he annoyed the hell out of me from the getgo.

The thing is: A good Movie can survive a bad main protagonist by being... you know, good.
Or by having good supporting characters. And THAT is actually something Fantastic Beasts and yadda yadda kind of achieved.
Tina Goldstein has by far the most interesting backstory out of all of the Heroes.
She's a former Cop (I'm sorry: "Auror") and the reason she got demoted directly ties in to the subplot of one of the Villains. Said subplot revolves around a group of people who hate Wizards and like to hit children with belts and stuff and it's actually the best bit of story we get in this movie.
Too bad it's secondary to Scamander hunting his escaped pets all over 1920's New York City in slapstick fashion.
Said Beasts are actually pretty cool I'll admit. They have creative designs and interesting abilitys and quirks. Thus they are basically everything Newt Scamander is not.
While the Creatures are one of the better things about this movie they still pale in comparison with the other two Heroes:
Jacob Kowalski and Tina's Sister Queenie Goldstein are a constant delight on their own but they are even better together as they have a mad amount of chemistry.
Good stuff, really good stuff.
Now if the Movie would be about them....
Instead we get an additiona love story between Tina and Newt. Those two share exactly one good scene together at the End which falls flat because it doesn't feel like that either of them earned it.
While it was obvious from the start that the two main characters would have an implied romantic relationship, not much was done to set it up.

In fact not much was done to set up the Heroes teaming up anyway.
At one point Tina is pretty much to blame for getting them almost killed and no one really bats an eye.
Sure she felt betrayed and did what she thought she had to do but the least they could do is confront each other about the shit they've done. But they don't.

I know I repeat myself but I really think this Movie should have been about Queenie and Jacob instead. It could be a romantic comedy for all I care, that would actually fit the tone of their relationship.

But it isn't. Instead we are stuck in a constant cycle of bad slapstick scenes which abruptly switch to bad overly dramatic scenes.
You know how Pixar and Marvel Studios Movies mastered the art of being serious, sad and fun at the same time. How they make you laugh and then give you an emotional uppercut in the next second and you love it?
Fantastic Beasts, I think, tries to go for the same effect but in the End it only reminds you that it isn't as easy as the studios I just mentioned make it look.

It doesn't quite help that the Villain is the most obvious bad guy ever (He's also pretty bland) and the ending is all kinds of anticlimactic, completely wasting any opportunity to finish strong due a Deus ex-Machina moment.
Well to be fair it's not really a Deus Ex-Machina moment as it is somewhat setup halfway through the movie but it is so lazy written it might as well be one.

A Movie that doesn't know what it want to be, with the most annoying Main Protagonist since Max in Life is Strange. A couple of good supporters and cool Creatures don't make up for how bad and uninteresting the rest is.
I don't think I'll ever watch this a second time.