Saturday, March 10, 2012

Movie Review: Underworld: Awakening

Wow. Been a while since I was here, at least three weeks. Well, that's what Dungeons and Dragons: Online and Stronghold: Kingdoms does to you.

I'm mixing it up a bit tonight, ladies and gentlemen. Instead of talking about how Stronghold: Kingdoms is the best casual game I've ever played, the differences between LoL and HoN, or the good and bad things about DDO, I'm going to talk a bit about a movie I just saw - Underworld: Awakening.

Now, I'm doing this for two reasons: one, I just saw the movie, and have plenty of criticisms in mind. And two, there seems to be a thing about critics of one medium hating other mediums - the most obvious case being Roger Ebert, but also Yahtzee; Ebert things games will (almost) never be art and Yahtzee has no time for films. I want to put a stop to this, right here, right now, and prove that a game lover/aspiring designer/sudo-critic can also be all those things with movies. So, here we go:

If I had to describe Underworld: Awakening in one sentence, it would be 'audio-visual rape'.

Shit. I'm not doing very well, am I?

It's not to say the movie is bad. The movie isn't bad, but it's not bad in the same way Iron Man 2 wasn't bad - the first was so, so much better, and it's clearly a transitional, 'chapter' movie rather than a... 'movie' movie, if that makes any sense.

Both of these movies feature awesome fighting scenes, except one has battlesuits and the other likes to shroud everything in darkness. It also didn't help that I saw the movie in 3D, which was actually perfect - it was a subpar, quite-obviously-setting-up-a-sequel movie, viewed though a gimmick-y tint with shitty lighting. I swear, you could have the movie run in black-and-white (except you colour in the vampire eyes blue) and for 50% of the freaking movie, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

As for the sound; my god. The people in charge of audio were either hopelessly incompetent or ruthlessly sadistic, or both. The explosions, the weapons (specifically the melee weapons, which have that 'schwiiiiing' sound as they cut through the air), and any sound made by a Lycan are all ridiculously loud. I was damn near deafened during the scenes where they had all three of the above sounds playing at the same time, and it all blended into one hideous, cacophonous mess. I'm pretty sure if it was any louder, the speakers in the theater would've blown from the sheer stress.

So, is there any good part to the movie? Well, there are some pretty cool scenes, like when the three Lycans are chasing the van with the main characters in it, across a busy street, and those Lycans are leaping from car to car trying to catch them. It was one of the best scenes in the whole movie.

Another great scene was the one where the massive werewolf was tossing Kate Beckinsale around like a ragdoll.

To be honest, it's hard to recall the movie. It's not that memorable to start with, and when the final scene hits you, you think "oh, this entire movie was just setting up the next one" and immediately forget it, because you'll know they'll just recap the thing at the beginning of the next one.

Which is sad, because the concept is actually pretty good - humankind start cracking down on vampires and werewolves. It almost has an Alien vs. Predator feel to it. In fact, that might make a pretty good game, and it would've made a pretty good movie if it was it's own movie instead of a sequel. But no, of course not.

All in all, Underworld: Awakening is pretty dissapointing, but that's understandable - this is almost a reboot. After all, Underworld: Evolution was released in 2006. That's quite a big gap between movies, especially ones that are supposed to follow on from the last one.

I'd say, rent this one just to get to grips with the story, or if you don't feel like spending any money, read a synopsis online. It's not a terrible movie, but not good enough to belong in your collection, or along side the other Underworld movies.

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