Monday, January 23, 2012

A Night A The Movies: Underworld Awakening And Red Tails

It should be no surprise that I like movies. So, when I tell you that I saw a double feature of Underworld Awakening and Red Tails it should sound normal, right? Right.

Going into the weekend, I didn't think I'd find the time to catch any movies, let alone two, but coming home from West Virginia late Saturday evening allowed my Sunday to remain open. I apologize to my friends Tim and Ryan for not waiting until next week but the flicks kept calling to me like Pookie in New Jack City.

Underworld: Awakening
Heading into the theater, I was extremely excited about the possibilities of this movie. Having enjoyed both the first and third installments, with a major disappointment in the second, I had high expectations for what lay ahead.

In short, the story picks up after the second episode where Selene and Michael kill one of the most powerful vampire elders.

As the fourth installment begins, we learn that humans discovered the existence of vampires and werewolves, which lead to a new war. Using high-tech weapons, many of which we've seen in previous episodes, the humans nearly eradicate both vampires and lycans from existence. Those that have escaped spend most of their time in hiding.

For Selene and Michael, they are eventually captured and put on ice.

Twelve years go by and Selene is awakened (or thawed) by another subject in a research facility. We are led to believe it is Michael, whom Selene shares a strong connection, but we later learn it is her daughter, Eve. At this point, I have questions about her birth and the apparent British accent. For a kid who has never left the research facility and raised by English speaking American's how does one speak with an accent? I didn't realize language was passed along in one's DNA. Anyway, I digress.

We later learn that Eve is a hybrid. My assumption is that she came from Selene and Michael, but I don't recall that being spelled out exactly. I wasn't impressed until I realized Eve had some useful talents, mainly ripping lycan heads apart.

For much of the movie, Selene and Eve are seen running from the lycans, who desperately want something from Eve. Again, not clear on what that something is exactly, but it supposedly protects the werewolves from silver.

The villain in this movie is again a lycan. However, this evil werewolf is probably 20 feet tall and extremely muscular. Think rabid dog made famous in the first Hulk movie and voila, you have our bad lycan.

In review, Underworld wasn't terrible but it wasn't great, either. I knew early on that the movie would disappoint. For starters, Selene's make-up and clothes looked a bit off. The overuse of CGI werewolves, that looked nothing like the original movie, practically made me want to give up and go home. Additionally, the producers used many of the same gimmicks (i.e. shooting holes in the floor to escape a perilous situation)   in this movie. Not good!

The story was shallow and lacked the spark found in both the first and third films. However, if you're really into action for the sake of action, then you will definitely get your fill.

Out of 5 stars I would give it a 3.

Based on the ending, we are to assume there will be a part 5. If history has a say (First and third = good movies; second and fourth = not so good movies) then the fifth installment should be excellent.

Red Tails
After a disappointing Underworld, I thought long and hard about watching another film. While ticket sales showed a strong weekend for movies, I needed to know if Red Tails was worth the price of admission.

Searching Twitter, I found a number of people singing Red Tails' praise. I found so many positive reviews online, minus Rotten Tomatoes' report, that I decided to check it out.

For those that don't know, the movie is about African-American pilots that served during World War II. While the military didn't recognize Negros as capable or courageous, the Tuskegee Airmen proved them wrong.

The movie stars both popular African-American actors (i.e. Cuba Gooding, Jr and Terrence Howard) and musicians (i.e. Ne-yo and Method Man); however, the movie never really got off the ground for me. I see where the director tried to create emotion, but it all seemed too rushed and forced. Knowing George Lucas had something to do with this film, I'm reminded of the awkward relationships between Anakin Skywalker and Princess Amidala. Add that and premature scene transitions, I never had a chance to fall in love with the movie. I wanted too, I really did.

As far as the action scenes go, the air-to-air dogfights were good. Although, I still think I like Top Gun better.

I understand the challenges George faced in making this movie. It's a movie about black men flying planes in the 1940's. According to them, it wouldn't do well.

When you put it like that, who wouldn't want the movie to succeed. If for nothing else, then to at least provide other minority movie makers the opportunity to create movies.

Unfortunately, and I'm sad to say this, the movie wasn't a blockbuster for me. It has nothing to do with the Tuskegee Airmen, which I think are great men to highlight, but this particular story didn't do it for me.

Out of 5 stars, I would give this movie a 3.

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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