THE RATING SYSTEM
The Good: A movie you'd own or watch again.
The Bad: You've watched it once and you're done.
The Ugly: Reserved for the worst crap money can buy.
I have a confession to make. And, as a self-proclaimed movie geek, it's a bit of a shocker.
I hate going to the movies. There I said it. Whew. That feels a lot better.
And by going to the movies, I mean going to the movie theatre. I can sit in the basement and watch them until the cows come home, but try to get me to the local multiplex and there's a better chance of hell freezing over, or at least cooling down.
This wasn't always the case. As recently as five years ago my wife and I caught a flick at least once a week. And we'd blow our bi-weekly mortgage payment on snacks at the concession as well.
The advent of video on demand has changed all that. Now one doesn't have to leave home to rent a movie. With the click of a button you can watch almost anything in high definition in the comfort of your own home. With beer.
Once the joys of VOD were discovered, the annoyances of going to the theatre became glaringly obvious. For one, there are no lineups at home. Nor are there people chatting or texting non-stop through the movie.
Texting is annoying, yes. But so are people who talk. There was this guy behind me during a screen of one of the Transformers movies who, whenever one of the robots changed into a car or toaster, had to say “wow.” Every. Single. Time.
“Wow! Did you see that? That was deadly,” he said to whomever was seated next to him.
It was cool, yes. The first time.
I went and saw the U.S. remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo earlier this year, one of three times I will likely venture out of the basement to watch a movie before the Mayan apocalypse, and it cost me $28. I went by myself to a matinee and had a large popcorn combo. That's it. I could have bought the Blu-Ray three months later for the same price and enjoyed the flick at home. With beer.
So I often play catch up with movies between seasons of We Came from the Basement. Last weekend I finally watched Underworld: Awakening, the fourth film in the popular B-movie franchise that features Kate Beckinsale in skin-tight vinyl. She's a vampire, by the way, who kills werewolves.
This instalment was released Jan. 20 with the added feature of 3D, which means you pay three extra dollars to see something that looks more or less the same in 2D, and cheaper.
Underworld: Awakening takes place 12 years after the events of Underworld: Evolution, and finds Beckinsale awakened from suspended animation to discover that humans have finally clued in that vampires and werewolves are real and decided to exterminate both species, because that’s how we roll.
Beckinsale's character sets out to find her long lost love, discovers she has a daughter, and leads the vampires against the humans. There's much more going on than that, but I won't spoil some of the plot twists.
If you haven't watched an Underworld movie, you probably shouldn’t bother with this one. It's more of the same. You'd also be lost, as there are three previous films and a bunch of dark soap opera material to grind through. Don't waste your time.
My wife and I have watched them all and we really like the series. These are violent films, with a strong female lead well played by Beckinsale. Next to Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in the Alien films, Beckinsale is about the most convincing tough-gal actress out there. And she doesn't even try.
Genre guys like myself are generally satisfied as long as there's a beautiful woman on screen and a decent body count. Underworld: Awakening has that in spades. And, for the politically correct crowd, the majority of it is committed by vampires and werewolves against vampires and werewolves, so no humans were hurt during the making of this movie.
I was particularly impressed by the final showdown between Beckinsale and the big bad werewolf. Vehicles are tossed about like toys and the amount of property damage is epic. Yes, I am a simple man with simple pleasures. I don't ask for much from my Friday night entertainment.
My primary complaint is that directors Mans Marlind and Bjorn Stein shoot the movie too dark. Yes, this is supposed to be modern gothic and gloomy, but I had a hard time figuring out what was happening on screen at times. My eyes are bad, but they aren't that bad.
Still, Underworld: Awakening gave me what I wanted in a scant 88 minutes, just long enough for something as mindlessly fun as this. So it gets a Good in my books.