Yes, a movie about secret agent guinea pigs took home movie of the week honors, suck on that Len Wiseman!
This week in cinema I check out Kate Beckinsale in pleather, Tom Green annoys me and some guinea pigs steal the show,
Underworld (2003, Len Wiseman, Germany/Hungary/United Kingdom/United States Of America) **
The allure of modern vampire/werewolf tales has always been how antiquated and tied down to an archaic way of life those creatures of the night are. Even as the rest of the world has advanced they refuse to, they kill with their bare hands, they hunt, they remain what we think of as a vampire or werewolf because that is all they know. Underworld takes a different route, it’s vampires and werewolves are decidedly modern, so much so that I don’t think they really needed to be vampires or werewolves at all. The story in Underworld could have been told using rival gangs, or modern occultists and it would have worked better for me. There’s been a few vampire or werewolf related ventures that have never bothered me with their modernity, Blade immediately comes to mind. But, Blade had a story to go along with its more modern vampires, Underworld has a lot of boring exposition instead. At one point I turned to my fiancee and said, “Holy crap, there’s still a half hour to go in this movie, it feels like we’ve been watching it for hours!” I will give Underworld credit for having a nice aesthetic look to it, but that was not enough to make up for a lack of a story or a film that didn’t need critters that bite or go bump in the night in the first place.
Underworld: Evolution (2006, Len Wiseman, United States Of America) *
Loud sounds, fast camera movement, but no fun to be found anywhere. This movie is inconsistent in a way that is maddening. The main villain is riddled with bullet holes time after time, run through the side of a mountain, and never comes close to really being hurt. He literally shrugs off ultraviolet bullets on a few different occasions, but in the end he’s done in by a helicopter blade, huh? Perhaps the best example of the inconsistency found in Underworld: Evolution is in the transformation of Kate Beckinsale’s character, or should I say her lack of transformation. Every other person in the movie who evolved or has evolved physically changes in some way, but not the eye candy of the film. When she evolves its all on the inside, because if she doesn’t fill out that pleather outfit of hers then this movie really doesn’t have any point. Did I mention it’s really dumb, no fun at all, and really stupid? Because, it is.
Stealing Harvard (2002, Bruce McCulloch, United States Of America) **
I had fond memories of Stealing Harvard, but I can’t really figure out why. The cast is pretty good, the set-up works in a stupid comedy sort of way, but it’s just not funny. I chuckled once or twice, and despite not being a Tom Green hater I kept waiting him to be reigned in, but he never was and because of that he ran roughshod over almost every moment of the film. What’s most troubling about Stealing Harvard is that it was directed by Bruce McCulloch, a Kids In The Hall alum. There’s no way an alum of that show should have directed this and thought it was funny. Yet, he did, and that is very disappointing.
G-Force (2009, Hoyt Yeatman, United States Of America) ***
No, that rating is not a typo. G-Force is an odd movie, but it is a funny one and an interesting one. This is as good of an example as you will ever find of fun film making. Throughout the film everyone involved realizes the idea is preposterous, but they also know it’s a pretty darn cool idea and they roll with it. On the faces of Will Arnett and Zach Galifianakis and in the voices of Sam Rockwell and Nicholas Cage you never get the sense that this is simply a paycheck movie. Everyone involved is having a good time and I had no choice but to get caught up in the fun. G-Force is absurd in the best way, it’s funny in how absurd it is willing to be, but most of all it is a lot of fun. And Last I checked, fun is hardly ever a bad thing.
A pretty rough week, G-Force notwithstanding. I wish my fond memories of Stealing Harvard had panned out and I really wish I had liked the two Underworld films more. But, you takes what you can get, and I’ll gladly take G-Force, it’s legitimately that good. Hopefully next week will bring better things, and hopefully you’ll still be here for the ride, no matter what I promise a good time. Well, I don’t, but I promise me, and that’s pretty awesome!