Archive for vampire

Underworld: Blood Wars

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The remaining vampire covens are on the verge of being wiped out by the Lycans. Both species are searching for Selene: the vampires seeking justice for the deaths of Viktor and Marcus, and the Lycans, led by Marius, intending to use her to locate Eve, whose blood holds the key to building an army of vampire-werewolf hybrids.

Semira, a council member of the Eastern Coven, wishes for Selene to be granted clemency so that the latter can train the Eastern Coven’s neophyte Death Dealers. To that end, she enlists Thomas to plead Selene’s case before the full council. Thomas succeeds and Selene arrives at the Eastern Coven with David. Selene is betrayed by Varga, Semira’s ally and lover, who poisons the former and slaughters the Death Dealers at the behest of Semira, who then begins draining Selene of her blood, which Semira intends to drink and gain her power, but is interrupted when Thomas and David come to her rescue. In the ensuing fight, Thomas is killed delaying Semira and Varga so that David can escape with an incapacitated Selene. During the escape, Semira and Varga are shocked to observe that the pair is immune to the effects of sunlight.

The pair seeks refuge with the Nordic Coven. They are pursued by Alexia, an Eastern Coven vampire dispatched by Semira, who consumes the blood from Selene and appears to be strengthened by its ingestion. Selene and David arrive at Vador, the stronghold of the Nordic Coven, where Vidar, the Elder, reveals that David was the son of the High Elder Amelia, making him the legitimate heir to the Eastern Coven.

The Nordic Coven is attacked by Marius and the Lycans, who were alerted by Alexia, Marius’s mole and lover. The Nordic vampires, led by Vidar’s daughter Lena, fight with Selene and David. Selene engages in single combat with Marius, who demands to know Eve’s location; Selene insists she does not know the location, being confirmed by Alexia by tasting some of Selene’s blood. Marius sounds the retreat for his troops and Selene, no longer wishing to live, slides herself under the now-broken ice of the lake.

Upon Alexia’s return to the Eastern Coven’s castle, she informs Semira of the events at the Nordic Coven. Semira kills her, revealing to have always known of Alexia’s treachery, and has been manipulating Alexia for her own ends. David returns to the Eastern Coven and informs the Elite Council of his parentage, presenting himself as the rightful heir to the coven. Semira is arrested by none other than Varga, whose ultimate loyalty is to the rightful leadership of the coven. She is subsequently imprisoned in the dungeons. The coven comes under attack by Marius and his forces. The Lycans blow holes in the castle’s walls, letting in sunlight, killing most of the vampires. David continues fighting, only to find himself face to face with Marius. Selene suddenly reappears, wearing a Nordic appearance and coat over her normal Death Dealer uniform. It is revealed that the Nordic Coven revived her and in doing so enabled her to develop new abilities. She swiftly begins dispatching the Lycans, as the rest of the Nordic Coven, led by Lena, join the fight. While Selene is making her way through the castle, the guards in the dungeons are killed by Semira, who then escapes from her cell. Selene and David find Marius, but David is waylaid by Semira. As Marius and Selene’s fight continues, a drop of Marius’s blood lands on Selene’s lips. She is suddenly flooded by a series of blood memories in which Marius finds Michael. She sees Marius capturing Michael and slitting his throat in order to collect his blood and consume it. Believing that Michael is dead, she bites her own wrist, using her own blood memories of the time she has spent with Michael, Eve, and David to fuel her rage. Although Marius has transformed, Selene rips out his spine, killing him instantly. David manages to kill Semira. He shows Marius’s severed head to the Lycans, who decide to retreat.

In the aftermath, Selene, David, and Lena are chosen as the new Elders. It is revealed that after being resurrected at the Nordic Coven, Selene was reunited with Eve, who has been following her mother.

REVIEW:

Vampires and werewolves aren’t really the popular thing in our culture anymore (thanks, Twilight franchise). They’ve mostly been replaced by zombies. Yet, here we are with a 5th Underworld film, Underworld: Blood Wars. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not exactly jumping up and down with anticipation. Hopefully, after I watch it, I’ll change my mind,

What is this about?

The next installment in the blockbuster franchise, UNDERWORLD: BLOOD WARS follows Vampire death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) as she fends off brutal attacks from both the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her. With her only allies, David (Theo James) and his father Thomas (Charles Dance), she must stop the eternal war between Lycans and Vampires, even if it means she has to make the ultimate sacrifice

What did I like?

Violent femme. I may be remembering wrong, but I seem to recall the Underworld being a bloody masterpiece when it came to the violence. Yet, the following films in the franchise were much more frugal with the way they showed the killings. As this film begins, we return to the ways of the first film. Kate Beckinsale’s Selene shoots, claws, and bites her way through her army of combatants.

Leather. Let’s be honest about one thing, shall we? A very big reason that this franchise is so popular is because Kate Beckinsale is running in skintight leather. Well, there is plenty of that in this film, though, in the final act, she is covered up with a fur coat. It is cold up there in the Nordic country, after all.

Immortal Kombat. Chances are, if you’re reading this, then you either have played Mortal Kombat, or at least know about it. Well, there is this scene late in the film where Selene and Marius, the primary antagonist and leader of the Lycans, are fighting. Not to spoil anything, but let’s just say someone pulls a fatality on the other.

What didn’t I like?

In the blood. Given the length of time between this and the first couple of films, I can understand a need to refresh the audience’s memory. However, with all the blood flashbacks were forced to endure, we might as well have watched the previous films all over again. On top of that, these flashbacks seems to get longer and longer each time and, after a while, it seemed as if they were nothing but something to fill up time.

Pulver-ize. The secondary antagonist, a scheming vampire called Semira is part of another issue I have with this film. First off, the actress that plays her, Lara Pulver, seems to be doing her best Eva Green impression (at one point I thought that’s who she was). Second, I wasn’t buying into her. Had her little boy toy, played by Bradley James been a secondary antagonist, I could have understood it. He was there to train Death Dealers and now Selene has come in. It makes sense, but with this chick, all I could think of was the cliché lover scorned.

Humans…or lack thereof. On one side we have vampires. On the other, Lycans. In the middle, regular human beings. Wait…I don’t recall seeing any humans in here. The last film, Underworld: Awakening, gave us plenty, perhaps too much human interaction/casualty in the war. The others, have at least shown a few bystanders, people frequenting the local pub, etc. I’m not sure why we don’t see some sort of human this time around. Perhaps they were all wiped out. Who knows? Still, the lack of humans, whether they were interacting with the vampires and lycans, or not leaves one to question.

Final verdict of Underworld: Blood Wars? Putting it bluntly, if you’re not already a fan of the franchise, then I doubt the film will do anything for you. While it was mildly entertaining, at best, I feel that so much more could have been done to keep the audience invested. The time to change anything about this franchise may be too late, though. Do I recommend this flick? I am not saying yes and I am not saying no.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

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Hotel Transylvania 2

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Some time after the first film, Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her new fiancé Johnny (Andy Samberg) are finally married, with the approval of her father Dracula (Adam Sandler), and the world becomes aware of (and unfazed by) the existence of monsters. Mavis later reveals to Drac that she is pregnant and a year later, she gives birth to a baby boy named Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), who later befriends Wayne’s daughter Winnie (Sadie Sandler). Nearing his fifth birthday, Dennis has yet to grow his fangs and Drac worries that his grandson might not gain vampire powers. Noticing the dangers of Transylvania, Mavis starts to consider raising Dennis where Johnny grew up, much to Drac’s disapproval.

Drac tells Johnny (who doesn’t want to leave the hotel either) to bring Mavis to California to visit the in-laws, Mike (Nick Offerman) and Linda (Megan Mullally), but to make sure to keep her distracted so that she will not move, leaving Drac to “babysit” Dennis. Drac enlists his friends, Frank (Kevin James), Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade), Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key) and Blobby the Blob (Jonny Solomon) to help train Dennis to become a monster, to no avail. Drac takes Dennis to his childhood summer camp, Camp Winnepacaca, where he learned to hone his vampire abilities, and discovers that the camp is safer than it was when he went there. Drac stubbornly believes Dennis is a “late fanger”, so he hurls Dennis from a tall, unstable tower to pressure the boy’s transformation into a bat. Dennis does not transform, and Drac has to fly and rescue him at the last second. The stunt is filmed by the campers and uploaded to the internet, which eventually reaches Mavis and Johnny. Mavis angrily transforms into a bat to fly her and Johnny back to Transylvania. Drac and his friends reach the hotel a couple of seconds after Mavis. She confronts her father for putting Dennis in grave danger and his inability to accept that he is human. She states she will move out of the hotel after Dennis’ fifth birthday the following Wednesday. Drac hangs his head with deep guilt.

Mavis invites Vlad (Mel Brooks), her grandfather and Drac’s father, to Dennis’ birthday party. As Vlad is much worse than he was when it comes to humans, Drac tells Johnny to have the human party-goers disguise themselves as monsters. Vlad receives the invitation and arrives with his monstrous bat-like servant Bela (Rob Riggle) to meet his great-grandson for the first time. Meeting him, he believes that fear will cause Dennis’ fangs to sprout and possesses a stage performer dressed as Dennis’s favorite television monster, “Kakie the Cake Monster,” to scare Dennis, but Drac shields his grandson at the last moment and exposes the deception to Vlad, who is outraged that Drac has accepted humans as guests in his hotel. Drac confronts his father about how humans are different now.

Mavis becomes upset with her grandfather’s behavior (regretting inviting him to Dennis’s birthday party) and while the family argues, Dennis sadly flees the hotel (followed by Bela) and enters the forest with Winnie in tow, hiding in her treehouse, but they are attacked by Bela, who mistakes Dennis for a human. When Bela injures Winnie and threatens to destroy the hotel, Dennis’ anger causes him to instantly grow his fangs and his vampire abilities manifest. He begins to fight Bela, who calls his giant-bat minions. Drac, Mavis, Dennis, Johnny, the rest of the monsters and (some of) Johnny’s family team up to defeat his minions as Vlad watches. A livid Bela then attempts to kill Johnny himself with a stake, but Vlad appears and shrinks him to a harmless size telling him never to come near him and his family again. This allows the Werewolf Kids to lick him nonstop.

With Dennis having vampire abilities, Mavis and Johnny continue to raise him in Transylvania, and they resume the party with his friends

REVIEW:

Adam Sandler’s movies haven’t been doing very well lately, with the exception of Hotel Transylvania (which he only has a voice acting part in). The first film was somewhat of a surprise hit which, of course, means there has to be Hotel Transylvania 2, right? I’m so sick of sequels, prequels, threequels, etc., but I digress. I’m sure this will be worth my time, right?

What is this about?

In this batty animated sequel, high jinks and hilarity ensue when Vlad, Dracula’s cranky estranged dad, arrives at Hotel Transylvania for an unexpected visit — and promptly creates an uproar.

What did I like?

Hanging with the guys. As with almost all of Adam Sandler’s movies, he makes sure to cast his buddies. This is no exception, but the difference is we get to see them actually act as if they are lifelong friends. The last time we saw that from Sandler and co. may have been Grown Ups.

Vlad. Let’s see, Dracula is Jewish comedic legend (whether we want to admit it or not), so his father would have to be an even bigger Jewish comedic legend. How about Mel Brooks? Yes, they cast Brooks as Vlad and he does not disappoint. First, he shows why he has been in the funny business all these years by having a comedic standoff with Sandler and then, we see the grumpy, human hating, all powerful father of vampires. In the short time he is on screen, we get a nice layering of the character that really pays off the build up they gave him early on in the film.

Parks and Rec. The human parents are total opposite of Dracula. Serious and non-flinching, they make you wonder how they even had their son, who doesn’t seem to fit in with them, either. Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly reunite (after many episodes avoiding each other on Parks and Recreation) and give us the tranquil ripples in this maelstrom of madness.

What didn’t I like?

Like father, like son. In the first film, I was not a fan of Andy Samberg’s character. This annoying human who somehow stumbled into a monster hotel nearly ruined the entire film for me. His son, while not as annoying, seems to have the same effect in the sequel. This kid is nothing more than a mop of bright orange hair that always needs saving and talk in such a way that we’re supposed to think him cute. I didn’t.

Tentacle monster. With all the monsters at the hotel, you would think we wouldn’t hear/see about any others, right? Well, lo and behold, out of nowhere (and in a normal, human neighborhood, mind you) we come across a tentacle monster that is married to a human woman, but everyone goes about their business as if nothing happened. How is this thing just up and running around town? I just don’t get it!

Worry too much. Mavis is a great character…at least she was in the first film. There was development, depth, and a touch of human to her that we all could relate to. This go around, she has been reduced to having nothing else to do but worry about her kid. I understand that is what mother’s do, but seriously, they could have given her something…anything else besides spending all her undead life doing things for her annoying kid…and don’t get me started on that little freak out over the camp video!

Final verdict on Hotel Transylvania 2? This is a valiant attempt to recreate the magic of the first film. IT actually comes quite close, but the failure here comes when the writers decided to use more kid humor or more adult humor, rather than finding a happy medium that all could enjoy. That being said, this is still a highly enjoyable film and better than most pictures out there. Do I recommend it? Yes, I do.

4 out of 5 stars

Female Vampire

Posted in Classics, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on May 20, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The plot revolves around Countess Irina von Karlstein (played by Lina Romay), a mute woman who needs sex like a vampire needs blood in order to stay alive forever. When new victims are found fatally drained of potency, forensic scientist Dr. Roberts consults his colleague, Dr. Orloff, who confirms that a vampire is responsible. Meanwhile, Irina is confronted by a poet who believes he is destined to become her lover and join her among the immortals.

REVIEW:

It seems as if the vampire craze that gripped the country, if not the world, is over and has thankfully been replaced by the far superior subject, superheroes! I am still a fan of vampires, though, especially female vampires. It seems like every vampire film we see focuses on the male specimens, but what about the other sex? This is where Female Vampire comes in.

What is this about?

To ensure her survival, an undead countess drains the life force from her prey. Meanwhile, she stirs a poet’s passion — and the coroner’s suspicions.

What did I like?

Suck it. We all know that vampires suck blood. That is how they survive. Until True Blood, we were mostly led to believe that they had to bite out necks in order to gain sustenance (they also take from the thigh and wrist on that show) . Now, thanks to this film, we have a new twist on how vampires get blood and, considering the nature of these creatures, it makes sense. Oral sex! Yes, that’s right. Our titular character has goes down on her victim and then when she’s had her fun, she drains them.

Lina Romay. The first person you see in this picture is Lina Romay, wearing only a hood of some sort walking in the woods towards the camera. Nudity aside, you cannot deny that this was a beautiful woman. Also, she doesn’t speak in the picture. When she does interact with someone it is through a series of nods and facial cues. Does that mean she’s a good actress? I wouldn’t go that far, but to pull of a non-speaking role like this does require some talent, other than just walking around with no clothes on all day.

Hood ornament. There are a few scenes where the Countess is riding around the countryside. As she is doing so, we get to look out the window and notice a hood ornament (remember those?) in the shape of a bat, I believe. Not just any bat, though. This one has wings that actually flap as the car moves. That isn’t a big thing, nor does it really have anything to do with the film, but it did catch my attention.

What didn’t I like?

Skin flick. As a red-blooded, straight male, I would be lying if I said that I was not interested in seeing an attractive woman walk around for nearly 2 hours giving head to both men and women. If that was all this was, then we’d have a porn film, so there is (allegedly) a plot somewhere in here which I will touch on next. The scenes in which Romay does her vampire thing seem to get longer and longer as the film goes on, until they just seem like filler. I almost turned this off because it had literally turned into a skin flick, and that isn’t what I signed up for when I decided to watch.

Plot? You know that plot that I just mentioned? Well, there really isn’t one. This is all about Romay and her insatiable appetite. We get hints at plot, such as the coroner who wants to prove the existence of vampires, the poet who is madly in love with (this story line seems to get the most airtime), and the reporter who wants to interview her about her family. None of these go anywhere, though, leaving one to wonder, why even bother?

Silence. I think I am one of the few people around today who genuinely enjoys silent film, and not in an ironic, hipster way, but as entertainment. Because of this, the main character’s inability to speak, as well as the sparse dialogue (which is in French, btw) in the film, didn’t bother me in the least. However, I am curious as to why she can’t speak. Is that some kind of vampire thing in this “world”? Did she have some kind of accident? Vampires aren’t known for having any imperfections, so this is an odd thing.

Final verdict on Female Vampire. Well, first off, it is obviously a product of its time. Every female vampire film that I’ve seen, excluding the Underworld franchise has been from the 70s and is just shy of being porn. This one, though, has to be near the bottom of the barrel, because the story and plot are there, but as soon as it gets going, cut to an oral sex scene. Do I recommend this? No, it is best that you not waste your time. I already wasted mine.

2 out of 5 stars

Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on February 21, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Charlotte, a young woman, is abducted by Baron Meier Link, a vampire nobleman who is known not to harm humans needlessly. Charlotte’s father hires D to find her and kill her humanely if she turns into a vampire. At the same time, her older brother also hires the notorious Marcus brothers for backup. Among them is a woman named Leila, who hunts vampires because of a personal grudge rather than for monetary gain. The two parties (D and the Marcus brothers) race inexorably after Meier Link. However, Meier Link hires the Mutant Barbarois; a group of lethal mercenary body guards. They consist of Caroline, a shape shifter; Benge, a shadow manipulator; and Mashira, a werewolf.

As the story progresses, Meier Link’s abduction turns out to be an escape by him and Charlotte, as they are lovers. Through the journey, D talks to Leila and tells her that she can have a life that someone like him could never have, the life of a normal human. They make a pact, if either one of them survives, the survivor can bring flowers to the other’s grave. Near the end of the movie, Meier Link goes with Charlotte to the Castle of Chaythe, where Countess Carmilla, Meier Link’s matron, waits for them. Carmilla, a ghost of a vampire who died long ago, reigned supreme within the Castle of Chaythe when vampires were all-powerful and unchallenged. However, her bloodlust was so strong that Count Dracula, D’s father, killed her in disgust. After going to the Castle of Chaythe, D fights Carmilla’s ghost, who plotted to kill Charlotte and return to life. D, along with Leila, let Meier Link leave for the City of the Night with Charlotte’s body.

In the final scene of the movie, D arrives at Leila’s funeral, watching from a distance. Leila’s granddaughter greets him and invites him to stay with them for a while. D declines, saying that he simply came to “repay a favor to an old friend, who feared no one would mourn her death.” He admitted he was glad she was wrong. The girl thanks him, and D replies by smiling gently at her, and leaves.

REVIEW:

The last anime film that I watched, without viewing the series, was Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, which led me to watch episodes. Now I rank Cowboy Bebop as one of my top 5 anime series. Was I hoping for lightning to strike twice with Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust? Not necessarily, but the concept of this film and the series has intrigued me.

What is this about?

Based on the graphic novels of Hideyuki Kikuchi, this beautifully drawn anime film melds spaghetti Western style with the gothic settings and flashy violence of 1960s Italian horror flicks to tell the story of a girl kidnapped by a vampire. Determined to get his daughter back, the kidnap victim’s wealthy father hires D — the half-breed spawn of a human mother and vampire father — to retrieve her. But what if she doesn’t want to be brought home?

What did I like?

Stunning. It is an overused term, but my goodness gracious is this a visually stunning film! Now, in this day and age where everything is done on computers, I may just be yearnin’ for some hand drawn animation, and a bit nostalgic for something that looks like it was made in the late 80s-early 2000s. The animation is smooth, breathtaking, and just flat-out awesome!

Vampires. Young people seem to refuse to believe this, but there was a time when vampires didn’t glitter in the sunlight while brooding over some mopey, unattractive chick (thanks Twilight). No worries about that here, though, the vampires and various other creatures and monsters are out for blood. Remember those days? If for nothing else, this film should get a star for showing real vampires doing their thing!

Isn’t it romantic. Vampires are very well-known as romantic and/or lecherous creatures in most vampire lore. This film’s plot involves a vampire kidnapping a human with which he has fallen in love. At first, I thought this was going to be some kind of villainous plot that would be culminated at the film’s climax, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, it turns out to be a tragic love story.

What didn’t I like?

Thin. I tend to no really agree with many other critics, but I have to go with them on the opinion that the plot is thin. With the great visuals and orchestral score, one would imagine that they would have spent the same effort on the plot, but that didn’t seem to be the case. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with it, but to me, it just seemed as it they hit a few points here and there without fully developing the plot points, this resulting in a bit of a disappointment.

Blood. I was led to believe this was going to be glorious, gory goodness, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. Yes, there is blood, but was it as much as I had been led to believe? I can honestly say that isn’t the case. As a matter of fact, there are scenes where D slices and dices, but no blood is shed. How is this possible? I want some blood and guts spewed, dammit!

Dunpeal. All throughout the film, they refer to D as a dunpeal. I’m not really sure what that is and it doesn’t appear that they define it anywhere in this film, but it is possible something that could have been described in the series or manga. Still, I do wish they would have told us what it was if they were going to keep calling him that term.

As it turns out, Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is a sequel to the 1985 film Vampire Hunter D. I can’t really say if you need to see it first, as this is my intro to the character, myself. That point aside, this is an exciting film with beautiful imagery and animation, some great orchestration that fits the tone of the film, and great character, but the thin plot and disappointment that I am experiencing after watching this have hurt my view on this film. Do I recommend this flick? Yes, but not very highly. This film was ok, but it just didn’t really blow me away the way I thought it would have. Still, you should give it a shot, if you’re interested.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron

Posted in Animation, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 13, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a series of flashbacks played in reverse chronological order it is related that in 1939, Professor Trevor Bruttenholm investigated a series of murders in Eastern Europe. Erzebet Ondrushko, a vampiress who bathed in the blood of innocents to stay young, was responsible. She had sold her soul to the Queen of Witches, the goddess Hecate, and had just kidnapped the fiancee of one of the townsmen. When the search party confronted Erzebet in her castle, all members of the party were horribly killed, and Bruttenholm was left to face her alone. He tricked her into the sunlight, effectively destroying her.

In the present day, an elderly Bruttenholm, who is overcome with memories of his encounter with Erzebet, takes a particular interest in a publicity stunt case in the Hamptons on Long Island. A haunting has been reported in a mansion recently purchased by developer Oliver Trumbolt, a friend of a U.S. Senator with hands deep in the BPRD’s budget, and considered a low priority. Bruttenhom insists that their most advanced team should go: Liz Sherman, Abe Sapien, Hellboy and junior agent Sydney Leach as well as himself (to everyone’s surprise). Bruttenholm does not explain his motives at first.

Ana, a blushing bride-to-be is met on the streets by two elderly women who encourage her to go to her bridal gown fitting, where she meets Erzebet, who had already killed the shop owner and her baby. Ana innocently comments that Erzebet reminds her of her “older” sister, offending her until she notices that Erzabet has no reflection. She screams, and everything goes dark. Later, upon being told that Father Lupescu was the one who convinced Ana to go to her fitting despite the disappearances of the young girls in the village, Erzabet pays him a visit, frightening him with her dark powers and confirming that his faith is not enough to keep her power from affecting the town.

The BPRD team arrives at Trumbolt’s site and sets up to investigate the haunting. Despite a few open windows, a creepy lifelike replica of Erzabet and an old, suspiciously familiar-looking groundskeeper, everything seems normal until night falls and they each encounter strange ghostly apparitions, culminating in dozens of spirits of Erzabet’s former victims. Excited that he may have found a goldmine, Trumbolt ignores the professor’s warnings and is attacked.

Ana goes to visit Father Lupescu who convinces her that she should not fear danger because the church is strong and the faith will keep her from harm. She hurries off to have her fitting done, running into Professor Bruttenholm as she leaves. Bruttenholm attempts to explain to Lupescu about Erzabet’s true nature and her allegiance to Hecate, but he becomes offended and turns Bruttenholm away.

Using his abilities to detect metal, Leach finds a secret passageway through the house’s cellar, inadvertently coming across Trumbolt’s body, drained of blood. The blood has been placed in a bathtub, apparently for Erzabet’s revival. Bruttenholm and Liz head for the gardens to stop Hecate and Erzabet’s Harpy hags from summoning her back from the dead while a werewolf attacks Hellboy and Abe. Abe is knocked unconscious and taken by the harpies for experimentation while Hellboy fights the werewolf, eventually subduing it and revealing that it is Father Lupescu, the groundskeeper whom Bruttenholm had earlier identified. Meanwhile, Liz and Bruttenholm are attacked, first by wolves, then by Erzabet’s withered body, which knocks Liz out and takes Bruttenholm. Hellboy is dropped through a hole in the courtyard and meets Hecate, who is perplexed as to why he helps the mortals, and tries to lure him to the dark side. He bluntly refuses again and again, forcing Hecate to take a physical form to deal with him. After Abe escapes them, the harpies come across Hecate, but one is killed as she violently thrashes with Hellboy and the other escapes. Erzabet bathes in Trumbolt’s blood and rejuvenates herself, but she begins to wither and decay again from the Holy Water which Bruttenholm had added to the bath. He breaks off a chair leg and finishes her off. Her death enrages Hecate who brutally attacks Hellboy and badly wounds him, and when he realizes her weakness is the sun, he lures her outside, forcing her back into the darkness of her own realm, defeated.

Bruttenholm is preparing for his trip to Transylvania where rumors have it that there is a vampire on the loose. As he is packing, his colleague comes in and they discuss the “right hand of doom” (Hellboy’s stone hand); Bruttenholm asserts that so long as evil exists, good will rise up against it, before revealing an image of Hellboy’s right hand, signifying that he will be responsible for the destruction of the world.

Hellboy wakens in his bed, admiring Bruttenholm, his adopted father, before falling back to sleep again.

REVIEW:

These days it seems like all the comic book world cares about are the big boys from Marvel and DC. Least they forget that a smaller company released a couple of films that gave them a run for their money. Hellboy: Blood and Iron is meant to bring Big Red to younger audiences, as well as give us a little more development into other characters such as Liz, Abe, and even the Professor.

What is this about?

When a vampire destroyed decades ago by professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm is resurrected, supernatural agents Hellboy, Liz Sherman and Abe Sapien must pool their resources to stop a demon uprising. As the team battles hordes of ghosts and hellhounds, a showdown brews between Hellboy and Hecate, queen of the witches

What did I like?

Adventure. I am a fan of both of the Hellboy movies, but neither really gave us any insight into the characters. Yes, we see that they are close, but that’s about it. In this animated version, you can just feel that they are a real team and it really shows that Hellboy cares for his “father”, albeit a bit overboard.

Voices. I have to give kudos to whoever was smart enough to round up the actors from the films. More often than not these days, we get cheap knock offs that make a valiant attempt, but just aren’t the same. I can’t think of any recent examples, offhand, but I can point you to the string of 80s Saturday morning cartoons that were based on movies, yet had knock off voice casts.

Action. The final battle between Hellboy and Hecate is on par with some of the best battles we’ve seen Big Red endure in both of his films. I do wish it was a bit longer and that they would have either gone somewhere with the allusions to Hellboy’s prophetic origins. Still, it was an exciting battle from start to finish.

What didn’t I like?

Character design. Saturday mornings, I watch this cartoon called The Spectacular Spider-Man. This film has very similar animation style and character design. While I like it on Spider-Man, it doesn’t work for Hellboy. One of the reasons is that they gave him toothpick legs and a huge body, which just makes him look more comedic that anything.

Pronunciation. There is some debate over the way to pronounce Hecate. In the film, it is pronounced ‘heck-ate’, but it is commonly pronounces ‘heck-a-tee’. This shouldn’t bug me, but it did, immensely. One would imagine that they’d have done the research into how to pronounce the villain’s name right, especially if they’re going to name her after an existing deity.

Vampire. The vampire angle that they chose to use could have been, in my opinion, better executed. As it is, they used it as a convenient way to tie the past to the present. In the process they somehow turned a man of the cloth into a slave of said vampire and eventually into a werewolf. Yes, I know, none of this makes sense, even when you suspend disbelief, but that’s how this film plays out.

If Hellboy: Blood and Sand is any indication, then this could work very well as an animated series. Before that could happen, though, they would need to fine tune this formula. All in all, though, this isn’t a bad film. It is an honorable entry into the franchise. As a matter of fact, I believe you can call this cannon with the live-action films. Give this a shot someday, why don’t you?

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, part II

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Bella awakens from her transformation from human to vampire, not only keenly aware of her new abilities, but also of changes within the coven as Jacob has imprinted on her child, Renesmee. It also appears that Bella’s father, Charlie, has been attempting to contact the Cullens for updates on Bella’s illness. They intend to tell him she didn’t survive, which requires that they move out of Forks, Washington to protect their identities. Jacob, desperate not to lose Renesmee, tells Charlie that his daughter is in fact alive and well, and explains that Bella has had to change in order to survive. He morphs into a wolf, revealing his tribe’s shape-shifting power, but does not tell Charlie about vampires, stating that Bella just had to change into something “other”.

Several months pass uneventfully, with Carlisle monitoring Renesmee’s rapid growth with Bella, Edward, Jacob and the rest of the Cullen family worrying what will become of her with such a rapid growth rate. On an outing in the woods, a bitter Irina sees Renesmee from a distance, and believes her to be an immortal child. Immortal children were those who were frozen in childhood, and because they could not be trained nor restrained, they destroyed entire villages. They were eventually executed, as were the parents who created them, and the creation of such children outlawed. Irina goes to the Volturi to report what she has seen to them.

Alice sees the Volturi and Irina coming to kill the Cullens, and leaves with Jasper the next day, instructing the others to gather as many witnesses as they can that can testify that Renesmee is not an immortal. They must gather the witnesses before the snow covers the ground, because that is when the Volturi will come. The Cullens begin to summon witnesses, such as the Denali family. One of the Denali, Eleazar, later encounters that Bella has a special ability: a powerful mental shield, which she can extend to protect others from mental attacks like those from Jane and Alec, with practice.

As some of their potential witnesses are attacked and prevented from supporting the Cullens, Carlisle and Edward realize they may have to fight the Volturi, despite their desire to avoid this. Some witnesses hesitate, but ultimately agree to stand with them in battle.

The Volturi arrive, led by Aro, who is eager to obtain the gifted members of the Cullen coven as part of his guard. Aro is allowed to touch Renesmee, and is convinced that she is not an immortal child. Irina is brought forth and she takes full responsibility of her mistake, leading to her immediate death. Her sisters are tempted into picking a fight, but are restrained. Although the blunder has been settled, Aro still insists that Renesmee may pose a risk in the future. Alice and Jasper appear to attest to the existence of other children like Renesmee, and Alice shows Aro a vision of the future. In the vision, Aro refuses to change his decision and a battle ensues, during which both sides undergo heavy casualties, with most of the Volturi dying. The identifiable major characters who die in the vision are (for the Cullens) Carlisle, Jasper, Seth, Leah and (for the Volturi) Aro, Jane, Alec, Caius, Marcus, Demetri and Felix. After the vision ends, Alice reveals to Aro that the vision will come to pass if Aro maintains his pursuit of Renesmee. Two more witnesses then arrive: a fully grown vampire-human hybrid and his aunt who have been living peacefully and undetected for 150 years, proving Renesmee is not a threat. (In a change from the novel, his three hybrid half-sisters and the gender differences in vampiric qualities of hybrids are not mentioned) For the sake of self-preservation, Aro orders his guards to retreat but not without giving one final glance to Alice and Bella.

Back at the Cullen home, Alice glimpses into the future, seeing Edward and Bella together with Jacob and a fully matured Renesmee. Edward reads Alice’s mind and feels happy that Renesmee has Jacob to protect her. Alone in the meadow, Bella finally allows Edward a peek into her thoughts. As the two share a kiss, their story closes as a book revealing the final line, “And then we continued blissfully into this small but perfect piece of our forever.”

REVIEW:

The Twilight franchise and I have not had the best of times as I am no fan of these films. Why am I watching this, you ask? Well, my OCD wouldn’t let me not finish it, not to mention morbid curiosity about how different The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, part II differs in production value from the original Twilight.

What is this about?

In the epic series’ final chapter, Bella and Edward’s newborn daughter forces the couple into a life-altering confrontation with the Volturi. Meanwhile, Bella’s burgeoning vampiric power makes her the key to the future of her family and their kind.

What did I like?

Action. For a last hurrah, they sure pulled out all the stops. This is a franchise known for sappy looks and bad acting. We get that here, to be sure, but also, the last half of the film is one gigantic fight scene, complete with beheadings, the ground opening up, and everything else you can think of. In other words, someone realized that they need to pull in the male audience if they wanted it to be a success.

They took the hint. All throughout this franchise, audiences have been forced to deal with Edward and Jacob trying to one up each other. Also, with the exception of the first entry, Jacob hasn’t been able to keep his shirt on. It was good to see these two on the same page. There comes a time when enough is enough. I’m sure there are more than a few female viewers out there who wish there were more shirtless Taylor Lautner scene, though.

Had to happen eventually. I’m sure all hell is going to break loose as soon as I type this, but it appears as if Lautner, Pattinson, and Stewart finally took a couple of acting classes. Don’t get me wrong, they still suck, but they are nowhere near as bad as they were previously. Also, does anyone else find it weird that Kristen Stewart’s character has more color and life as a vampire than she did as a human. She actually smiles, for goodness sakes!!!

What didn’t I like?

Cash grab. When they split the last Harry Potter book into two films, I didn’t have too much of a problem with it, because of how the book is written. It made sense to do so. I haven’t read, nor so I plan on reading, these books, but I can’t imagine that there was a need to split the last book into two films other than having the ability to milk a few more bucks out of the fan base. That really is the only reason they did that. Had this been made in the Golden Age of Hollywood, if there was a need to split the films, both would have been made with great care, rather than half-assed it the way these films feel.

Flashback. I appreciate the novelty of going down memory lane at the end of the film, but it was just too much. With the exception of a couple of changed actors, the flashback during the end credits reminded us of every character in all the films. I just didn’t really see the point, especially since most of them are long forgotten.

Vampires or X-Men. So, in this universe, vampires sparkle in the daylight, and have varying superpowers, similar to the X-Men. What kind of weirdness was going through Stephanie Meyers’ head when she came up with this idea. Sure, it is cool, but like most people, vampires to me are only known for having a select set of powers, such as mind control, speed, strength, etc. This whole controlling the elements, electricity, becoming a shade, etc., that just was a bit overboard.

Pie man. This is a personal thing, but Lee Pace, best known as the pie man from the cancelled too soon Pushing Daisies, does not pull off the gruff, long-haired look. I guess I’m so used to seeing him as more of the clean-cut guy, so it didn’t really work.

Finally, or should I say mercifully, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, part II brings the franchise to an end. These films were never meant for my demographic, which is probably why I never got into the, With that said, this was arguably the best of the bunch. After all these years, though, you have to figure they learned a thing or two about making films. Now, I won’t recommend this to anyone that isn’t into this franchise, because, quite frankly, this isn’t for everyone. Make you own decision if this is for you or not.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Dark Shadows

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1760, the Collins family migrates to America from Liverpool and sets up a fishing port in Maine, naming it Collinsport. Some years later, the son, Barnabas (Johnny Depp), seduces his family’s maid, Angelique Bouchard (Eva Green), who is a witch. When he tells her he doesn’t love or want her, Angelique kills Barnabas’ parents. Barnabas then falls in love with Josette du Pres (Bella Heathcote). In a fit of jealousy, Angelique bewitches Josette into leaping from a cliff to her death. Barnabas leaps after her in grief, but he survives because Angelique turns him into an immortal vampire. She rouses a mob to capture and bury Barnabas alive in a chained coffin in the woods and curses his family.

One hundred ninety-six years later, in the year 1972, construction workers accidentally free Barnabas from his coffin, who slakes his two-century hunger by feeding on and killing his rescuers. He makes his way back to his manor to find it inhabited by his dysfunctional descendants and their servants—the family matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard (Michelle Pfeiffer); her brother Roger (Jonny Lee Miller); her 15-year-old daughter Carolyn (Chloë Grace Moretz); Roger’s 10-year-old son David (Gulliver McGrath); Dr. Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter), David’s psychiatrist; Willie Loomis (Jackie Earle Haley), the manor’s caretaker; and Victoria Winters (Heathcote), David’s newly-hired governess and Josette’s reincarnation. Upon convincing Elizabeth of his identity by revealing a secret treasure room behind the fireplace, Barnabas is allowed to stay under the condition that he never reveal either the room or the fact that he is a vampire to the rest of the family. He must also pretend to be a distant relative from England who has come to restore the family’s business and reputation in town. He soon becomes very deeply attracted to Victoria, whom he briefly mistakes for his lost Josette, and immediately begins to pursue her.

As Barnabas helps revitalize the Collins’ fishery and manor, he is approached by Angelique, who has used her powers to establish a successful rival fishery called Angel Bay. She tries to win him back, later convincing him to make wild, passionate love with her, but he still rejects her, telling her that he loves Victoria instead. He restores his family’s name by inviting the entire town to a party at the manor featuring Alice Cooper, where Victoria reveals to Barnabas that her parents committed her to an insane asylum as a child because she could see and talk to Josette’s ghost. They kiss and confess their feelings to each other, unknowingly enraging Angelique who has witnessed the scene. Meanwhile, Dr. Hoffman has discovered Barnabas’ true nature after hypnotizing him. She convinces him to try to turn himself back to a regular human via blood transfusions, but her real intent is to use his blood to turn herself into a vampire to avoid aging. Upon discovering this betrayal, Barnabas drains her to death and dumps her body into the ocean. Barnabas catches Roger trying to find the secret room and exposes Roger’s lack of interest in his son. Barnabas then gives him a choice of either staying and being a good father to David or leaving the family. Roger chooses to leave, deeply wounding his son’s feelings. Soon afterward, Barnabas rescues David from a falling disco ball and stumbles into a beam of sunlight, burning his skin and exposing his secret to the horrified children and Victoria.

Later that night, Angelique calls Barnabas into her office, coaxes him into confessing Dr. Hoffman’s murder, and traps him in another coffin that she leaves in his family’s crypt. She then burns down the Collins’ canning factory and plays a recording of the murder confession to the police and gathered townsfolk, once more turning them against the family. Angelique leads the mob to Collinwood manor to arrest the family, but Barnabas is rescued from the coffin by David and he shows up at the manor and attacks Angelique in front of the mob, thereby exposing both his and her true natures. As the townspeople disperse, Angelique sets fire to the manor and admits her role in the family’s curse, including turning Carolyn into a werewolf and killing David’s mother at sea. Barnabas and the Collins family fight Angelique until David summons his mother’s vengeful ghost. The ghost gives a single scream which knocks Angelique into a chandelier. Before she dies she pulls out her heart and offers it to Barnabas; he refuses the heart and it shatters as Angelique dies. Barnabas then discovers that Angelique has bewitched Victoria into jumping off the same cliff Josette did. Barnabas arrives moments before Victoria is about to jump and breaks her hypnosis, but she reveals she wanted to fall. She pleads with him to make her a vampire so that they can remain together forever, but he refuses. She then casts herself off, forcing him to follow and bite her to save her life, and Victoria wakes up as a vampire. As the two kiss on the rocks in the waves, the film ends with an underwater scene showing a school of fish swimming away from Hoffman, who suddenly revives because she’s a vampire .

REVIEW:

In the 60s, Dark Shadows was a cult soap opera with supernatural themes, similar to one we had not that long ago called Passions. I don’t believe the soap was terribly popular, but it did last a few seasons and has gone on to become a cult favorite. If you are a fan of the series, you have my deepest sympathies for what Tim Burton has done.

What is this about?

Tim Burton’s take on the cult gothic soap follows a centuries-old vampire as he returns to his now-crumbling estate to meet his modern descendants. But what he finds is a house full of secrets and shadows.

What did I like?

Vision. I don’t think that there is a Tim Burton flick that I don’t instantly fall in love with the contrast of light and dark. Well, maybe Alice in Wonderland, but the rest are a nice mix of bright-colored backgrounds with dark stories and characters. This contrast even goes as far as the makeup. The ruby-red lips that Dr. Hoffman and Angelique are sporting, as well as Hoffman’s red hair really stand out in this macabre, dreary town.

Depp. I have to give it up to Johnny Depp, he really creates a vampire that could be frightening, and yet likable. He’s an unapologetic, bloodthirsty, vengeful, lecherous member of the undead and makes no apologies for it. This is a stark contrast to the vampires that have been polluting the screens the past few years. Depp also knocks it out of the park with his acting. I was expecting another character with that same British accent he uses eveyrtime he plays someone from across the pond, such as Jack Sparrow or Sweeny Todd.

70s and new blood. The 70s setting makes for quite some interesting experiences for someone who lived in the 19th century. It is quite the culture shock, especially when you see someone names Alice Cooper, who turns out to be “one ugly woman”. The infusion of two new, extremely attractive actresses, as opposed to the same ones we’ve seen over and over again, Eva Green (Angelique) and Bella Heathcote (Maggie/Victoria/Josette), not to mention the growing star of Chloe Grace Moertz.

What didn’t I like?

Change. I’m torn as to what I think of the change in tone from the original series. On one hand, I enjoyed it, as a film by itself. However, I did watch some episodes of the series this summer, and there were very few things that resembled this film, or vice versa. As I said before, if you’re a fan of the series, I feel your pain for what Burton did to something you truly love. At least they kept the supernatural aspect intact, and the comedy bits add a little spice to it.

Angelique. As much as I was drooling over Eva Green, I wasn’t too fond of the character, Angelique. She is one of those that does nothing but use her feminine wiles and witchcraft to manipulate the town into loving her and doing her bidding, but when Barnabas returns from the grave, she knows it could all very well end, ironically by one of her “creations”. The cracking porcelain face was a nice touch, though.

Pick a genre. One critic said that this film couldn’t decide what genre it wanted to be, horror, comedy, drama, etc. I have to agree, though it wasn’t as much of a distraction for me. I would have liked for it to go full on comedy since that is the direction they chose to go, with a few horror and dram a elements. This is based on a soap opera and deals with vampires, after all.

Ending. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that it sets up very nicely for a sequel. The problem is, they kind of tip their hat a little early by showing something they shouldn’t have while this particular character is getting killed. I guess that is more of a goof than a complaint…for now.

Dark Shadows provides some nice entertainment and will probably go on to be a cult favorite in years to come. The film was labeled as a flop this summer, but it came out the week after The Avengers, which went on to be #1 for like close to two months. I think this would have done better being released around Halloween. Do I recommend it? Yeah, this is one of those film you can start off your scary movie parties with as a warm-up, or if you’re into the horror comedy thing, couple this with something like Fido, This definitely worth checking out and is better than people give it credit for. Admittedly, I think I liked it more than I should have!

4 out of 5 stars