Mind Sieve 3/27/17

Not expecting to get far, but better something that nothing. No? 🙂

Work is still insane! I’m so behind on so many things at work and for writing. Wheee!

Wonder Woman – Official Origin Trailer – I’m really looking forward to this!

Justice League Official Trailer 1 – Looks awesome! Brand new trailer. Sweet!

Middle Earth: Shadow of War – I thought it was a movie trailer, but it’s a game trailer. Still, darn impressive video!

The Handmaid’s Tale Official Trailer – oh my! This looks good! And disturbing!

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 Trailers 1 – 3 – though it seems more like 5. But the first two at least are NEW! So excited for this! 🙂 And Kurt Russel! Nice! (Nathan Fillion, too! Though he’s not in the previews :))

Okay, I better stop. Have a great week!

Movie Review – Power Rangers

Power Rangers

Power Rangers

Starring: Dacre Montgomery, Naomi Scott, RJ Cyler, Ludi Lin, Becky G., Elizabeth Banks, Bryan Cranston, Bill Hader, Cody Kearsley, and more.

Directed by:  Dean Israelite Screenplay by: John Gatins Story by: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Michele Mulroney, and Kieran Mulroney Cinematography by: Matthew J. Lloyd Music by: Brian Tyler

Premise: Five teenagers end up in the same place when one of them uncovers a hidden artifact near an old mine. Veritable strangers to one another, they unite as they try to escape the area. Finding themselves unharmed after an accident, they get back together to try to figure out what has happened to them. That’s when they discover an old evil is about to destroy their town, their country, their planet. Unless they can figure out how to tap the powers they never asked for. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Dacre Montgomery does a nice job as Jason. His insecurity, avoidance, and hidden anger as he deals with his accident and the repercussions of his prank gone wrong were well done. Naomi Scott showed some talent as Kimberly. Her pain and the hidden aspects of her secret, and her need to be better, coming across well. RJ Cyler did a great job as Billy. Socially awkward, but super smart, he ends up becoming the heart of the group. Ludi Lin as Zack was a two-sided coin of crazy and deep grief. Becky G. as Trini was a lot of fun, as her character found herself drawn into the group despite herself. Elizabeth Banks does evil Rita with flair and fun.

Though all the Rangers do appear to struggle with the acting during the big combat sequence. Robot fighting angst is probably not a class in acting school. 😛

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: It was the special effects I saw in the previews that made me want to see the film. 🙂 There were lots of neat and cool effects throughout the movie.

The beginning of the film is set in a prehistoric era and looked impressive. The battlefield, the alien rangers, and red ranger’s solution were pretty spiffy.

Our introduction to Jason went places he and the audience weren’t expecting. The crash and the view from inside the truck were pretty amazing. He’s lucky to be alive! lol. (The few bits of shaky cam luckily did not linger long!)

The Wall was one of the coolest effects in the film. I loved the spaceship and Alpha 5. Cooler still was how they got to the ship in the first place.

The morphing was pretty cool as well. Rita’s change and the making of her scepter/lance looked awesome. Goldar was fabulous! He was so fluid! The sequence where Rita reconstitutes him is pretty darn cool. Yay big budgets! lol.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Up: Sentai series have been super popular in Japan. Some say the first five-member team originated with the anime series Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman in the 70’s. Saban took some of the more popular live-action sentai series from the 80’s, spliced in American’s for the non-costumed parts and Saban’s Power Rangers were born! While I have enjoyed several sentai series, the Americanized versions never did much for me. But on seeing the previews for this film, I got interested in seeing what they’d do with a feature film. The fact it looked like they did backstories on the characters also intrigued me.

Mind you; I didn’t go in thinking it would be anything but fun, action, and fluff. And I wasn’t wrong. But they did try to add some depth and let us get to know the characters bit by bit. The slow melding of the group was decently done.

Major kudos for showing us the alien who were the original power rangers and even having an alien language. And though drawn together, we still saw friction in the characters as they struggle to make sense of what they’ve been dumped into and whether they want any part of it. Also, points for proving that cars can’t always outrun the train. 😛

I do wish they’d done more with Rita Repulsa. Elizabeth Banks seemed to have had too much fun playing her. lol.

There’s a bit in the end for the fans, some hint of things to come. I am sure there were probably a lot of bits having to do with former Power Ranger series, but they were lost on me. Other than a few obvious ones from the sentai genre in general – like tons of disposable minions and major fights always happening at quarries. 😛

Still, from what I saw, I think fans of the original US shows will be pleased with how the movie came out.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: Between the first car crash and then the van crash, the stunt guys were giving their all! The training fights and later the powered fights were pretty decent. They multi-vehicle fights weren’t as good. They should have let the stunt team help with those. 😛

Conclusion: Fun fluff film with neat special effects. Fans of the Power Rangers and Japanese sentai shows should find a lot to like. The fact they take the time to introduce the team members will go a long way to making the experience more fulfilling for those new to this genre of film.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Movie Review – Kong: Skull Island

Kong: Skull Island

Kong Skull Island

Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Toby Kebbell, Jason Mitchell, Shea Whigham, John Ortiz, Tian Jing, Will Brittain, Miyavi, and more.

Directed by: Jordan Vogt-Roberts Screenplay by: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, and Derek Connolly Story by: John Gatins Cinematography by: Larry Fong Music by: Henry Jackman

Premise: In 1973, just as the Vietnam War ended, a researcher convinces a senator to allow his team to go with a survey group to a newly discovered island. The helicopter squad assigned to take them there gets a nasty surprise when they drop seismic testing bombs in the jungle. The destruction brings forth a creature worse than any enemy they’ve fought before. Getting off the island will be much harder than getting in. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Lots of great performances from the cast! Tom Hiddleston is a man stuck between worlds as James Conrad. Samuel L. Jackson plays Preston Packard – an Ahab looking for his white whale (aka giant gorilla) nemesis. Brie Larson was both spunky and full of feeling as photographer Mason Weaver. John C. Reilly was a hoot as Hank Marlow.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: Saw this in 3D but wish we’d been able to see it in IMAX 3D. Some truly phenomenal backgrounds mixed with special effects. The giant auroras around the island at night were amazing.

The outside view of the perpetual storm around Skull Island was very reminiscent of “Star Trek the Motion Picture.” Once they go inside the cloud, the “wow” factor went way up. The entire ride was amazing! Fabulous images with the off colored lightining~!

Kong looked great. The scars from previous fights were a great touch. They did a terrific job with all the creatures – the dangerous and the non-dangerous ones. 🙂

There are tons of explosions, machine guns, gas, rifle fire, napalm, and more. The scenes when the group first meets Kong were fabulous. You do not willingly mess with a giant gorilla, people!

3) Story – Thumbs Up: The entire film seemed to be not only a giant monster movie but one paying homage to all sorts of other films. Think “Apocalypse Now” meets “Moby Dick” with a dash of “Enemy Mine” and “African Queen.” They even throw in bits from the Millenium Falcon’s hyperdrive malfunction and the storm around Voyager from Star Trek. In-jokes abound!

The big theme of the film is soul consuming obsession. Bill Randa’s obsession got them to the island, Packard’s is what almost gets all of them killed. The hubris of man knows no bounds. It’s your fault if you start blowing things up, and the locals take steps to show you they aren’t happy about it. Duh! And you should never assume monsters are stupid! (These sure weren’t!) Not if you want to survive or make your sacrifice mean anything. 😛

Lots of light moments, which help diffuse some of the tension. It was used well to show the bonds between and the differences of some of the characters. They spent the time to let us get to know them a little, which is ideal for making the audience care about them and not wanting them to getting killed. Plenty of faceless ones to get ground up, though, so expect a high body count.

Aside from the impromptu scares to make you jump, the plot is pretty straight forward. Lots of mayhem, monsters, and fights to keep everyone entertained, though.

SUPER IMPORTANT –  You must sit through ALL the credits! When you see the black screen – do not move! There is more! Wait…for…it! 🙂

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: Most of the gags are CGI based, but still look darn cool. The main actors still get whipped around, thrown, attacked, and more so there was plenty of work to go around. 😛

5) Locations/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: Filmed in Hawaii, Vietnam, and Australia, we get a ton of fun sites and beautiful photography. Add in some of the cool effects for the aurora or a giant gorilla standing in the middle of signature backgrounds, and you’ve got a visual winner. 🙂

Conclusion: If you like giant monster films, action, explosions, and craziness, wrapped around a simple frame this movie won’t disappoint. Good “just for fun” fodder.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again)

 

Movie Review – Logan

Logan

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook, Stephen Merchant, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Richard E. Grant, Eriq La Salle, and more.

Directed by: James Mangold Story by: James Mangold Screenplay by: Scott Frank, James Mangold, and Michael Green Cinematography by: John Mathieson Music by: Marco Beltrami

Premise: It is the year 2029. Mutants are no longer born, the weird mutation died out. Logan and Xavier are old, and neither are in good health. Everything they’ve lived through seems meaningless now. So when a woman approaches Logan professing to need his help, he’s not interested. He’s got other things to worry about. But she’s not about to let this go. (Rated R)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Hugh Jackman reprises his role as Wolverine. This is an older, more pessimistic Logan. Hugh Jackman does an incredible job. He gives an excellent performance throughout. You feel his aches and pains, he’s so good! 🙂

Patrick Stewart also reprises his role as Charles Xavier. Though ill, Charles still does his best for his remaining student. Patrick brings all the light and comedic moments to the tale. And he does it so very well! Watching the two of them go back and forth was a lot of fun.

Dafne Keen as Laura is a treat. Not only does she have the Wolverine glare down, but she’s also full of little surprises. Boyd Holbrook as Pierce is unexpectedly multifaceted. Though, his prosthetic hand kept trying to steal his spotlight. 😛

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: Lots of nice and subtle special effects in this film. Two of the effects stuck with me.

The first is the awesome work on Logan’s abused body. One look at his face, his shoulders, and arms and you know this is a man who has suffered pain. When you see ooze coming from where his blades previously cut the skin, you know he’s in trouble. And when you see his wounds at the clinic – eek!

The second is Pierce’s mechanical hand. You would swear it was his true appendage. There’s a scene where it’s disconnected from the socket. Then he plugs it back in and twirls a small screwdriver. It is such a seamless move that it sells its reality to the audience, even though it truly isn’t real.

Laura’s blades and Wolverine’s were great. Xavier’s unintended attacks, and the paralysis and other problems it invoked, made for a super cool scene in the city.

Oh and Logan’s limo? Priceless! Though it loses the fight with the fence, it makes up for that by bringing it along and using it as a weapon! Sweet!

3) Plot/Story – Total Thumbs Up: When you first realize Wolverine is not well, many fans will be wanting to know why. How could this be? Wolverine is a mutant, and his mutation is regeneration/healing. Oh, it’s not a problem with the plot. There is an answer. And you’ll have to wait for it! But if you’re not paying attention, you might miss it. So when the scientist talks towards the end of the film in the woods, pay attention! It won’t make immediate sense to connect it to Logan and what’s wrong with him, but if you give it some thought, you’ll see that they are. I have to say, the whole idea of it was brilliant! (High fructose corn syrup is the devil! I knew it! Bwahahaha!)

The general plot is straightforward, with several points being obvious in their direction. But then, when you least expect it, you get a little surprise pop up here and there, throwing in some new angle, some new bit of fun.

There are a lot of piled layers to the film as well. Regret, guilt, debts, family, reality vs. fantasy, putting one foot in front of the other out of sheer stubbornness. Living each day for a dream that’s out of reach just to make it through another day.

Tons and tons of touching moments. I did find it ironic how Canada is mentioned as a place of safety when for Logan it had been anything but. 😛 Callisto as a man was also a bit of a surprise. I didn’t read the Laura arc in comics so I can’t make any comments on that, but I did enjoy it! (I’m a sucker for well-done angst.) 😛

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: This is a film with Wolverine, so a ton of stunts is definitely an expectation, and you won’t be disappointed. Tons of hand to hand combat. Watching Wolverine and Laura go at it together is a sight to behold. And all the people involved in Xavier’s unintended attack were fab!

5) Locations/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: From the neat hideaway in Mexico to the location of Eden, the farm, and more – they all looked great. The sunset behind the caravan looking for Laura was breathtaking. Some nice view of mountains, tundras, and more. Visually satisfying stuff!

6) Costuming/Makeup – Total Thumbs Up: I enjoyed the care they took with some of the clothing used in the film. Especially with regards to Laura. Mean, tough exterior, yet she showed a softer, girlier side with some of her random choices in eyewear and clothing. It was adorable and added an unexpected layer to her personality. Xavier putting on the hat he buys was such a cute moment!

One the makeup side, all the work on Hugh Jackman was fabulous! It screams out even more so when we meet an unexpected participant. Made for a striking contrast.

Conclusion: Logan was a fun and emotional film. Tons of action and more. Some typical moments but lots of non-typical as well. There’s also a Deadpool intro before the main movie. Disturbing and too funny all at the same time. lol.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Mind Sieve 2/27/17

This will probably be a short one. But better short than none? 🙂

Fan Fun

Something About This Biscuit – by Pastor Fred. Very cute! They played it on the radio, so I hunted it down to share with ya’ll. 🙂

 

Avengers: Infinity War First Look (2018) – should be exciting!

 

The Discovery Official Trailer – looks bizarre!

Hope you have a quiet and productive week! I’m hoping for the same! Heh heh

 

Mind Sieve 2/6/17

Morning, all!

Well, looks like it will be another quick one this week. Sorry!

If you’re in Dallas/Ft Worth next weekend, make sure to check out ConDFW! First SF/F Convention for me for 2017! Lots of fun guests and peeps. This year’s Guest of Honor is RACHEL CAINE!  Woot!

Fan Fun

This was the intro cartoon for a recent animated film (Drawing a blank!) and is was so lifelike and so utterly ADORABLE! Ran across it and had to share! Piper from Disney Pixar.

Ghost in the Shell Super Bowl Spot Trailer + has new and old scenes. Saw the anime movie recently, the fight with the guy in the water came straight from it. Looking forward to this!

Simon’s Cat – Looking For Love (A Valentine’s Collection). So cute!

This Beautiful Fantastic Official Trailer 1 – looks like it might be fun. 🙂

 

Have a great week!

Movie Review – The Space Between Us

The Space Between Us

Starring: Asa Butterfield, Britt Robertson, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, BD Wong, Janet Montgomery, Peter Chelsom, and more.

Directed by: Peter Chelsom Screenplay by: Allan Loeb Story by: Stewart Schill, Richard Barton Lewis, and Allan Loeb Cinematography by: Barry Peterson Music by: Andrew Lockington

Premise: An accidental pregnancy discovered after the launch of a mission to Mars, becomes a secret to avoid scandal and the withdrawal of funding. Sixteen years later, Gardner’s existence is still a secret. But when he finally gets a hold of his mother’s belongings in storage, he longs to follow the clues she left and see his father, if only for a moment. So when he has the opportunity to go to Earth, he escapes the facility to meet his only friend on Earth and track down his missing parent. (Rated PG-13)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Asa Butterfield does a marvelous job as Gardner. His wonder at seeing what Earth has to offer is infectious. Britt Robertson as the thick skinned Tulsa was perfect. It was fun watching her well placed and shored up emotional walls slowly come tumbling down. Gary Oldman as Nathaniel Shepherd was poignant as a man who’d lost sight of what the dream was about. Carla Gugino gave depth to the awakening of Kendra Wyndham’s feelings and realizations about her charge.

2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: The film begins before Gardner is born, so we see the actual launch of the mission to Mars. The take off sequence looked great. The views of Mars and later Earth from orbit were fantastic.

Since the story is set several years in our future, there were lots of little technical upgrades to everyday life. The crystal/glass computers looked super cool. Centaur, the robot on Mars, looked like something a kid would make. The kick me sign on the back of his head was hilarious and also reminiscent of the cool SF film called “Moon.”

The barn explosion was BIG! A little overdone, but they did do a great job with the wind and smoke to obscure the view from those spying from above. 😛

3) Plot/Story – Neutral: This is one of those films where you don’t want to look too closely at what is being told, or it starts falling apart. Overall, the concept is fun and entertaining, and it even has a couple of twists. The growing relationship between Gardner and Tulsa and their trials are what keeps us interested. Yet the film also took a few corners by omission and some of the science is ignored, so they don’t have to figure out a way to work around it.

The primary driver of the film is how Gardner can’t handle Earth gravity. And they did take the time to introduce a way to help his bones stand up to the higher gravity, which was great. What they ignored is the fact that going into orbit or into space, multiplies the gravity, which would, in turn, kill Gardner outright. They could have used a gel container or even a water tank to help offset some of the effects, but they didn’t use anything at all.

They also ignored some facts with Sarah getting pregnant in the first place. No woman who fought and clawed her way to being the leader of a four-year mission to Mars would then blow it all away by getting pregnant. Birth control would have been the first thing she would have taken care of. To spend so much time and effort to gain her position, she wouldn’t have just thrown it away. (And they never have the decency to tell us what she died of! Argh!)

The same lapse in mentality shows up again when Gardner and Tulsa have a “night” together. As a child in foster care, she would be very aware of the type of situations which might have been the reason she got into the system. I doubt she’d be wanting to make the same error to another child. (And there’s also the fact with Garnder’s health problems, he would have probably died from the act due to the stress on his enlarged heart, but we won’t go there…) 😛

A couple of more nitpicks. 1 – Things Gardner found unfamiliar didn’t quite work. Since he had access to entertainment on Mars, it’s hard to believe he didn’t know what streets were, or horses, even dogs. It would have been more fun for him to know what they were but touching them, smelling them, that part that would have been new and would surprise him. Much like the fun scene at the bus stop in the rain. He knew what it was, but actually experiencing it was something else altogether. We needed more of that! 2 – If Gardner had access to social media/chat rooms – why was Tulsa his only friend? 3 – Communications between Earth and Mars were pretty much instantaneous. Yet nothing was said about how this is possible. Especially since lag times currently run from four to twenty minutes each way!

4) Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: The cinematography on this film was fantastic. The shots are themselves a love story of sorts. One to get the audience to see and fall in love with our planet as much as Gardner does. So many gorgeous shots!

Conclusion: An adorable love story with bits of mystery carried forward by a great cast. As long as you don’t look too closely at the details and science, you’re in for a nice ride.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Mind Sieve 1/30/17

Morning!

Short one this week as I had to log into work on Sunday. Boo!

Planetarium Trailer – looks funky!

Brimstone Trailer – looks harsh! Dang!

King Arthur Official Trailer # 2 – There’s a short one and then a longer one in the same video. Magic looks spiffy!

Have a fun week!

Movie Review – Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Eoin Macken, Fraser James, Ruby Rose, William Levy, Rola, Ever Anderson, and more.

Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson Written by: Paul W.S. Anderson Cinematography by: Glen MacPherson Music by: Paul Haslinger

Premise: Having survived a trap in Washington, D.C. Alice gets contacted by the Red Queen – Umbrella’s AI Computer. She warns that in 48 hours the three thousand plus humans left on the surface of the planet will be exterminated. Their only hope is for Alice to come back to the Hive to retrieve the antidote for the T-virus. One the Umbrella Corporation has kept hidden from the world. The ultimate secrets are about to be revealed. (Rated  R)

Review:

1) Acting – Thumbs Up: Familiar and new characters fill the cast. Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter, and Shawn Roberts reprise their previous roles in the Resident Evil universe. A couple of them get to play more than one. 🙂 Milla Jovovich continues to give Alice some nice layers with what little she’s given to work with. Iain Glen looks to have had a lot of most fun playing multiple roles in this one.

2) Special Effects – Thumbs Up: It’s hard to say if it was due to budget cuts or the direction the group was ordered to follow, but some of the filming choices made a lot of the special effects look cheap or mediocre. Which is a shame, because there were some neat effects in there.

The first creature that attacks Alice is filmed in such a way the audience can’t get a sense of what it look like. All you see is a blurred, giant blob of flesh. Between all the shaky cam and giggling, weaving viewpoints. They did slightly better with the next creature, but even that one the good glimpses seemed doled out rather than consistent.

Great work on the zombies. The ones hung from a bridge and only reacting when the trucks drove beneath them were an awesome detail. There’s one that shows up in the Hive that gave it all he had despite being hung to dry, poor thing. He looked great!

The Hive itself was fab. The recreations of several familiar places and the transformation of others were well done. The evil laser corridor makes a comeback. Bwahaha! The bridge/walkway coming up out of the water was awesome.

3) Plot/Story – Thumbs Down: Hubby has loved this franchise since day one. I’ve gone and seen all of the films with him. Some have been better than others, yet you don’t tend to expect too much in that department. The action and special effects are what people truly come for, and they usually deliver quite well on that aspect of things.  This time, though, they failed at both. 🙁

The plot was awful. Too much of it was contrived for convenience. No real surprises.

It was bad enough that the audience gets thrown into the deep end with little explanation. (And with information that doesn’t match info previously given in other films!) Then we’re “told” Alice survived a trap in D.C. but got to see none of it. New characters are thrown at us, but the audience is given no time to get to know them. Yet we’re expected to care when they die…

Alice has 48 hours to get the antidote and save humanity. Yet the story has the characters waste hours upon hours preparing for a coming attack on the human “stronghold” rather than just go to the Hive to save what little of the human race is left. Instead, Alice leaves herself two measly hours to break into and infiltrate a giant underground facility and find the elusive antidote. One that could be locked up anywhere in the facility and not easily accessible. Right…

Wesker’s job is to keep people out of the Hive. He knows Alice is coming. He and Isaacs keep talking about doing lockdowns and having all the security primed. So what does he do? He keeps the giant door leading into the hive WIDE OPEN! Even taking into account the supposed “power grid issues” he still had plenty of time to close the thing but doesn’t. (What’s hilarious about the super convenient “power grid issues” is that if they truly had rolling power outages, all of the people in the cryo tubes would be DEAD!)

Don’t get me started on how the “power grid issues” get used to make convenient problems for the infiltrators. Ugh.

As if the plot issues weren’t bad enough, they ruined most of the action shots with shaky cam, blinking lights, wobbly angles and any excuse to not get a good clear shot of the action. Made no sense. You’d get one impressive bit of fighting, then a ton of jerky crap you couldn’t keep track of. *sigh*

4) Stunts – Thumbs Up: Lots of stunts and neatly choreographed battle scenes. But they too suffered from the horrible shaky cam, wobbly angles, and strobe light effects. Boo! It was frustrating to get something super cool and then something almost unrecognizable. Double boo!

5) Music – Total Thumbs Up: The one bright spot of the movie was the music. Paul Haslinger’s “A Force so Evil” track which is used as the film opens got the blood flowing and built a growing sense of excitement. Too bad the plot and bad filming couldn’t follow through on what he created with the score.

Conclusion: The final installment in the “Resident Evil” saga will not leave a good impression overall. Bad plots might be expected in films like these, but when they muck with the action, they’ve drained what little fun could be had at all.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Better for Matinee.)

Movie Review for Underworld: Blood Wars

Underworld

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Tobias Menzies, Lara Pulver, Charles Dance, James Faulkner, Peter Anderson, Clementine Nicholson, Bradley James, and more.

Directed by: Anna Foerster Screenplay by: Cory Goodman Story by: Kyle Ward and Cory Goodman Based on Characters Created by: Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, and Danny McBride Cinematography by: Karl Walter Lindenlaub Music by: Michael Wandmacher

Premise: Having lost her lover, daughter, and family, Selene feels she has no reason for living. Hunted by both werewolves and vampires as they seek her daughter for her blood, they won’t believe her when she tells them she doesn’t know where she is. Meanwhile, a new leader has risen amongst the werewolves. One whose been able to unite all the tribes and successfully destroyed a number of vampire covens. This could be the ultimate battle for both species. And Selene is once more stuck in the middle of it, whether she wants to be or not. (Rated R)

Review:

1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: Kate Beckinsale reprises her role as the vampire Selene. Her dark, poignant looks are as sharp as ever. Theo James also returns as David. A young vampire Selene saved in the last film, he stands by her side whether she wants his help or not. Lara Pulver is pure gold as the manipulative Semira. Charles Dance and James Faulkner bring their strong presences into the cast giving it some weight.

2) Special Effects – Thumbs Up: A lot of effects fill the film. Most are quite nice. Several considerably gory.

The outside area of the northern stronghold, especially the frozen waterfall, was fabulous. The obfuscate skills from the north flowed quite well. And the vampire cocoons were a neat concept.

I couldn’t remember from the previous films, but it seems that the werewolves in this franchise get less and less hairy with each movie. Hairless werewolves look less like werewolves and more like muscle heavy people with long muzzles. The vampires too seemed less than they should. They either had elongated teeth all the time or not at all.

3) Plot/Story – Neutral: At a mere 91 minutes, there’s not much time for any real story development. Complications and backgrounds are served at breakneck speeds with no time to savor or absorb them. Character development is minimal. Lots of new enemies that just seem like more of the same because they’re not given any real time to prove they’re in any way different from the rest.

To increase the blood and carnage, both the werewolves and the vampires seem to lose a lot of their powers. Their sense of enhanced smell, strength, and more. A lot of wounds that should repair themselves in moments don’t heal at all. (Not every blade would have poison on it.) The touch of the sun and the UV bullets now kill instantaneously. Selene and Varga’s cage match showed potential for cool combat skills the vampires never once use on their werewolf enemies.

A lot of the motivations seem concocted and convenient. Without building the characters some of the things they do make no sense. Thomas knows Semira and her techniques, yet ignores what he knows and makes some of what follows hollow. Varga’s explanations for his actions late in the film are completely belied by his previous actions, but no one seems to notice. (And when do you put someone in a room as a prisoner without removing all the weapons? As if this huge place wouldn’t have a set of cells!)

It’s also never good when you repeatedly tell the audience how impossible something is, and yet it’s taken care of easily. Worse, once the vampires realize what has been done, they do nothing to correct the issue and get the benefit of added security instead of being massacred. Oh well.

4) Stunts – Total Thumbs Up: Lots of hand-to-hand combat. Sword fights, gun fights, and combinations of those and more. The choreography from the battles was overall well done.

5) Locations/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: The gorgeous vistas, especially when they go north, almost make up for the plot issues. The shots from the train over the mountains were fantastic! The frozen lake with the northern lights behind them was a beautiful sight. I loved the shots of the frozen waterfall.

6) Costuming/Makeup – Total Thumbs Up: Selene wears her signature corset, leathers, and long coat. Later things get shaken up a little with some contrast changes. All the southern vampires are emo to the max. It made for a huge contrast when we’re introduced to the northern coven. A strange ying and yang effect. I loved the touch of Viking and Valkyrie influence on the northern group, especially for Lena.

Conclusion: If you love watching Selene kick buns, and some gorgeous cinematography, you’ll enjoy the film. Just don’t expect much else.

Rating: 3.25 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Better For Matinee)