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Flash Movie Review: Underworld: Blood Wars

IT was in elementary school where I first met them, but at different times. One became friends with me in 4th grade, the other in 7th. They became my best friends and we did everything together. We would have dinner at each others’ houses, sleepovers, go on family trips together; we considered ourselves the three musketeers. Having two best friends was great during the school day because there was always a good chance one of them would be in one of my several classes during the day. As we started to grow towards our teen years we began to develop our own tastes. I did not think much about it because I just adapted to the new environment. There were some activities one friend liked that the other did not, so the two of us would do it by ourselves.   DURING this time I did not realize my two friends were forming a dislike towards each other; I had no idea why it was even taking place, but it was becoming clear that I was neutral territory. They were not overt about their dislike but when the three of us were together I noticed when either of them talked it was directed towards me. They did very little eye contact towards the other. This was becoming very stressful for me because I did not know how to fix the situation. Once we were in high school the hostility they had for each other became more public. It was getting harder to make plans with either one because if I could not make it for a certain date, I would be accused of favoring the other friend. Talk about drama, the situation was uncomfortable to the point if one friend saw me talking to the other one I was accused of playing favorites. I reached my breaking point and told both of them I was done with the drama; if they wanted to keep this anger up then go for it, but I was removing myself from listening or dealing with any more hostilities. I felt the same way about this action fantasy film.    THE key to winning the war between vampires and werewolves all came down to the blood flowing through the body of Selene, played by Kate Beckinsale (The Aviator, Love & Friendship). Whoever could capture her would win the war. This sequel also starred Theo James (Divergent franchise, The Benefactor) as David, Tobias Menzies (Finding Neverland, Atonement) as Marius and Lara Pulver (The Special Relationship, True Blood-TV) as Semira. On the surface this film had a good, dark look to it which fit into the theme of vampires. The fight scenes were fun in that comic book way of filming. Kate was the focus and handled the role beautifully; however, the script was so basic and clichéd that I quickly became bored. To me the script seemed as if it was pieced together in a “connect the dots” fashion. The writers must have decided the film needed a love scene, a rivalry, a generation gap, etc. and just threw it into the story; it was easy to figure out where things were going, so there were no surprises for me. As far as I was concerned I was hoping the 2 sides would kill each other so I would not have to sit through another sequel.

 

1 ¾ stars       

 

 

Flash Movie Review: Only Lovers Left Alive

Once two people have a shared history of intimacy together, it will always reappear when one is in the presence of the other. They may have not seen each other in a long time; but as soon as they meet, that oasis of intimate vulnerability floats up from the recesses of their minds to create terra firma. A gentle puff of breath slipping across an ear can remind one how they were being held as they dove into a luxurious sleep. The scent of their hair can bring back the vision of a wide open vista of sun stained cliffs cascading into a deep canyon as both sat close, taking in the majesty of the moment. So knowledgeable of each other’s ways, the two created a world unto themselves that is separate from the reality around then. Two individuals who had this connection in this dramatic romantic film were Eve and Adam, played by Tilda Swinton (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Adaptation) and Tom Hiddleston (War Horse, Thor franchise). Aware of Adam’s despondent reclusiveness, Eve traveled from her home in Tangier, Morocco to be with him in Detroit, MIchigan. With the world around them in decline they had their own little safe haven until Eve’s sister Ava, played by Mia Wasikowska (Jane Eyre, The Kids are all Right), showed up at their front door. This film festival nominated movie grew on me like Spanish moss on a thick humid day. Tilda and Tom were so deliciously good together as the centuries old vampires. The whole cast was strong but I could not take my eyes off the two of them. They were able to convey a feeling, an emotion simply by the turn of the head or the gaze of their eyes. The script was smart and hip with quick spurts of fresh humor. Since some of the characters were vampires, the whole picture had a certain darkness to it; but, there was a subtle lightness that made for deep languishing scenes. I really enjoyed the way the director’s or maybe it was cinematographer’s penetrating use of light sources played with the blackness. Though this film was listed as horror, there was nothing I would consider scary in the traditional sense. If you are squeamish at the sight of blood, no matter the vessel it may be in, then yes there were scenes that had blood. However, I can only think of one scene that might be considered gory. Despite a bit of uneven pacing, by the end of the movie I felt I had visited an old couple who knew each other so well, they did not have to ask how the other one felt, they just knew. Brief scenes of blood were shown.

 

3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Vampire Academy

It may only take one article of clothing, accessory, family member or friend and you get branded for life by your peers. A sweater you wore may have a spot or small hole that you did not notice, but someone else did and made the assumption you came from a poor family or even worse a dirty family. I have a watch that looks like an expensive, famous brand of timepiece. It always surprises me during a conversation with an unfamiliar person, when i catch them staring at my watch and their mannerisms do a slight shift towards me afterwards. I cannot explain it since I avoid dealing with people who only focus on the surface of an individual. Back in school I had a friend whose dad was a bus driver. I cannot tell you how many times other classmates would make comments about how his dad was Ralph Kramden (if this name is unfamiliar to you then look up Jackie Gleason) or he was the son of a bus driver. Not only did I not understand the reason for these kinds of comments, but I found them cruel. Well, evidently this same kind of labeling takes place among vampires. Lucy Fry (Lightning Point-TV) played Lissa Dragomir, the last vampire of a royal bloodline. After being out on her own in the real world she was forced to return to St. Vladimir’s academy for vampires with her best friend and protector Rose Hathaway, played by Zoey Deutch (Beautiful Creatures, Mayor Cupcake). She was not well received by some of the student body; in fact, some would rather have seen her dead. As if school was not hard enough already, Lissa found herself in the middle of a class struggle. This action fantasy was such a poor production; it screamed of being a Harry Potter and Twilight movie knockoff. The character Rose appeared to be jacked up on huge amounts of caffeine; her speech was more of a verbal blur to me. For the life of me I did not understand why Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Miller’s Crossing) as Victor Dashkov and Joely Richardson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Event Horizon) as Queen Tatiana were part of this film unless they both lost a bet with someone. The script provided nothing but poor dialog and goofy comments. There were so many opportunities to instill some excitement, tension, thought or even sentimental moments but none of that entered into this boring tale. I hope there are no plans to make a sequel. Though I mentioned I try not to label anyone based on their surface, I may have to reconsider when it comes to the director and writers of this silly vampire fantasy.

 

1 1/2 stars

Flash Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 2

Heads will roll if you mess with Bella’s child…and they certainly did in this final chapter of the movie series. After yesterday’s review that talked about the bond between mother and child, we have here another example of a parent’s love for their offspring. In this movie there was a new and improved Bella, played by Kristen Stewart (Snow White and the Huntsman, The Runaways). With the birth of her daughter Renesmee, Bella would need to master all of her new found vampire abilities if she was going to keep her child safe. The reason being there was something special about Renesmee that threatened the Volturi and its leader Ado, played by Michael Sheen (Midnight in Paris, Frost/Nixon). Since I did not read any of the Twilight books I do not know how closely this movie followed the novel. The story picked up right where the previous film ended, with Bella having turned into a vampire. I had hoped with this new Bella there would have been a better acting job from Kristen, but that was not the case. She never looked happy, with only a couple of emotional facial expressions, that honestly looked like she was a mouth breather. Robert Pattinson (Water for Elephants, Cosmopolis) as Edward Cullen played the role with a slightly more relaxed feel to it. As for Taylor Lautner (Abduction, Valentine’s Day), he did not bring anything new or special to his Jacob Black character. The first half of the movie was slow for me. I found it to be syrupy and melodramatic, with its heavy musical accompaniment. What I found odd was how some vampires had unique special skills. It was as if the writers forgot they were dealing with vampires and writing instead for X-Men characters. The last half of this action film had a buildup of tension that led to an epic battle, with a couple of interesting twists thrown into the mix. On a whole the writers of this movie sucked the life out of the story, giving me only an ok movie experience. I was disappointed I could not sink my teeth into something good.

 

2 1/3 stars

Flash Movie Review: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Many of Abraham Lincoln’s accomplishments have been well documented. How did historians miss this tasty tidbit about President Lincoln’s skill as a vampire hunter? If it wasn’t for Mr. Lincoln’s special talent, the civil war would have had a different ending. Having not read the popular book this movie was based on, I only had a partial idea on what to expect based on the movie trailers. The story was totally outrageous and laid out to mirror the actual timeline of Abraham Lincoln’s progress from young boy to lawyer to president. This movie was an absolute fun experience. All you need to do is put common sense aside and just go for the thrilling ride as the action was constant and the special effects were great. The movie’s look was immaculate in its presentation and detail to the period of time. Playing Abraham Lincoln, I thought Benjamin Walker (Flags of Our Fathers, Kinsey) was wonderful as the lean, stoic, ax wielding man. His mentor Henry Sturgess, played by Dominic Cooper (The Devil’s Double, The Duchess), was also terrific in his complicated role. This is the type of movie you see when you need some escapism; a fun fantasy lined up along historical markers. Just imagine, if we did not have Abraham Lincoln to save us from being taken over by vampires, humans would have become the new red meat. There were multiple scenes of blood.

 

3 1/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Dark Shadows

The time really has come for those two boys to stop playing with the make-up and just put it away. I am referring to Johnny and Timmy. Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland, Alice in Wonderland) was Barnabas Collins, but he could have easily been one of his other characters from his past movies. Tim Burton, the director, made some poor choices when he directed this confused film. It flipped back and forth between being a comedy and a thriller, resulting in a lackluster update of the old television series. Angelique Bouchard, played by Eva Green (The Golden Compass, Casino Royale), placed a curse on Barnabas, turning him into a vampire; then had him buried alive for all eternity. When he unexpectedly was dug up 200 years later, he was determined to revive the family business with the present matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, played by Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns, Hairspray). I found the humor feeble with only a few funny parts–you may already have seen them in the trailer. Having Johnny’s character taking a stream of vomit in the face was not funny to me. As for Michelle, I thought she should have been used more, giving some heft to her weak character. My disappointment appeared to match the majority of baby boomers seated throughout the theater. As we were leaving our seats, I heard very few comments; only the disappointed sighs of people remembering how much they had enjoyed the TV show.

 

1 3/4 stars

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