The Movie Scab Reviews: "Underworld 4: Awakening."
"The scab you're picking at is called execution."
--American film producer Scott Rudin.
Monkey Boy rated Underworld 4: Awakening zero Acks! out of five!
Underworld 4: Awakening.
If Underworld 4: Awakening is an example of what's to come for movies this year, it might not be a bad thing if the world ends on December 21, 2012.
As you may be aware, the largest grand cycle of the ancient Mayan Calendar overturns on December 21 and a new cycle begins, and because of that more than a few super intelligent celebrities like Janeane Garofalo, Mel Gibson, Woody Harelson, Canibus, and Shirley MacLaine, among others (according to the website www.december212012.com), believe it means it's the end of the world as we know it.
This makes me want to break out in song, the chorus from "It's the End of the World As We Know It (and I feel fine)" by R.E.M. I'd make one little change, though: "It's the end of the world as we know it (and because of Underworld 4 I feel fine)."
Anyway, if you need a Mayan Calendar/end of the world reference point, check out the disaster movie 2012, voted by NASA as the dumbest science fiction movie ever made. It was inspired by the Mayan Calendar countdown to global destruction.
Now. Think about what I'm saying here: Underworld 4 is so bad that I think the end of the world would be more fun to watch. The eradication of humanity is a better, healthier alternative than seeing this movie--that's how bad I think this movie is! Wow. That's bad.
But if you believe Time Magazine movie critic Richard Corliss, Underworld 4 is one of the best crappy movies he's seen in a while, and based on his recommendation, I went to see this embarrassing, shameless, worthless vampire/lycanthrope/Matrix-wannabe sequel. I put down real cash money for this crap-monster, and it's all thanks to Mr. Corliss, big time professional movie critic! Because of Underworld 4, I hope the dumbest science fiction movie ever made--2012--is right! I hope December 21, 2012 is the end of the world! I know billions and billions of people will die. I know that maybe the entire human species will be instantly vaporized by a sun tsunami or whatever they call it. I know that maybe the whole planet earth will be wiped off the space-map forever, nothing but a spatial memory--but I'll take the eradication of the planet and humanity over sitting through Underworld 4.
Thanks a lot, Richard Corliss! Thanks a whole helluva lot!
There are only two possibilities as to why Richard Corliss would recommend Underworld 4:
1. He's getting a nice bigfatstupid paycheck from the people who made it.
2. A career based on watching Hollywood movies will eventually drive you insane, i.e., Richard Corliss has lost his freakin' mind.
This means there is no hope for me. I was born and raised in a movie theatre, after all, and I've been watching movies for almost as long as dear old, senile, delusional, dementia-ridden Baby Boomer Richard Corliss has been reviewing them (he started to officially review movies in 1980), so it's clear 32 years+ of, if not merely watching Hollywood movies, certainly reviewing Hollywood movies causes severe mental retardation. That means I'm not far behind. I'm certain his fate is my own. Hollywood will eventually make me so retarded I'll start calling myself Richard Corliss.
Holy crap-monster-cow! How can Richard Corliss recommend this movie? I mean, seriously.
I'd understand it if Richard Corliss was the guy who invested the $70 million dollars it took to make Underworld 4. If I'd dumped $70 million into a movie that stunk this bad, well hell, I'd do everything in my power to get people to go too. I'd recommend it in Time Magazine. I'd lie and encourage people to see it. I'd even congratulate myself and Hollywood for the less-than-stellar $25 million it pulled in during its opening weekend. Hey, you guys! We spent $70 million dollars to make the movie and it pulled in $25 million over the weekend! Isn't that great?
When you do the math while the Hollywood prognosticators do the voodoo that they continue to do-do (they're congratulating themselves for the "success" of Underworld 4), you'll realize $25 million dollars is in a galaxy so far, far away from $70 million dollars that not even George Lucas could Jar-Jar Binks his way out of this one.
You might wonder where $70 million goes when you invest it into a big stinker like Underworld 4, and I'll tell you where it goes: Down the toilet, that's where.
Honestly, I've seen better special effects in a toilet bowl. I've read better stories while sitting on a toilet bowl. And I've smelled better farts coming from a toilet bowl. (My girlfriend tells me my farts smell like movie theatre hot buttered popcorn. I wonder what poor Richard Corliss' farts smell like? Cash? Mental illness? Woodstock?)
For what it's worth, here's the uh, er, plot of Underworld 4--what there is of it, at any rate: Kate Beckinsale's Death Dealer super-vampire Selene wakes up after 12 years of being a very suckable upside-down naked Popsicle. (She's upside-down for some unexplained reason, but it doesn't matter why she's upside-down because it's Kate Beckinsale and she's naked. She could be sideways and spinning like a lathe, but as long as it's Kate Beckinsale sideways, spinning and naked, nothing else matters.) Anyway, she breaks out from her upside-down freezer/prison amid a badly executed CGI mist that conceals her naked body, preventing us from seeing the only thing in this movie that matters: Her naked body!
And that's it. Well. That's when the movie stopped mattering to me anyway.
But here's the rest, if you must know: Then, for some reason I do not understand, Selene quickly slips into her black vampire latex-suit (conveniently stored nearby, of course, her body concealed by that crappy looking CGI mist) and starts calling out for Michael, her hybrid vampire/lycanthrope boyfriend who's been turned into an upside-down naked Popsicle too.
Worse yet, it seems to me that Michael has been replaced by an actor who doesn't even look remotely like Scott Speedman, the actor who originally played the part. (Scott Speedman is absent from this sequel, and I say, smart move, Mr. Speedman!) But I could be wrong. Maybe that was actually Scott Speedman's face, but since Michael is only on-screen for a couple of seconds, his features obscured by lousy special effects, it's really hard to tell.
Back to the plot: Selene starts killing everybody. And then she kills everybody else. And then she kills whoever is left. There's a ten foot tall CGI lycanthrope that looks like a monster from an Atari 2600 VCS home video game console--for those of you who don't know, the Atari VCS came out in 1977, you know, the great CGI graphics era of "Pac-Man."
Now, I love and appreciate special effects and therefore I have to pause here for a moment and say: I'm sorry for offending the extraordinarily long list of special effects people in Underworld 4's credits. I know they worked hard and were paid very well for their hard work, but at the end of the day none of that matters. What matters in special effects is: Does the effect work?
The big goofy werewolf? Well, I used the word "goofy," so that should tell you right there, but this really and simply sums it up: 1977 Atari VCS. That's all you need to know.
I've never liked the way the lycanthropes looked in the earlier movies anyway--they had big, furry puppet heads that looked as real as big, furry puppet heads and they all appeared to be blind--but I did respect the fact that the movie-makers tried to use costumes and puppetry instead of relying heavily on CGI. This movie breaks from that tradition. Everything is CGI this time around, pretty much, and it's crappy CGI. It's 1977 Atari VCS CGI. And, besides, CGI only works when it's used wisely. Like the ancient Knight Templar in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade said, the movie-makers "…chose poorly."
Anything else? There's a new boss vampire played by the remarkable and talented actor Charles Dance, who isn't remarkable and is wasted here--but for a brief moment in his early scenes where he seems to imitate Bill Nighy's vocal cadence. (Nighy played the boss vampire in the original and he has a unique way of speaking.) Oh, and there's an irritating and unlikable girl-hybrid daughter-or-something, a really nice cop who gets beaten up a lot, some awfully bad lycanthropes disguised as doctors and some of the worst dialogue I've heard all year, and dammit, we're only a few weeks in!
Dear God in heaven, if this is how the movies in 2012 start...
Now, I've got to ask at this point: Who was the dummy who thought this story up anyway? Well, it wasn't just one dummy. Eight people get credit for writing Underworld 4. So that's eight dummies--and guess what? Two of them are the original creators of the franchise, the truly talented Danny McBride and Len Wiseman, husband to Kate. Now, did you just read that right? Yes, you did. Danny McBride and Len Wiseman. This is proof positive that if you stay in the movie business long enough mental retardation kicks in. I'm sure they call themselves Richard Corliss now.
The storytellers are also in a big hurry. Everything moves fast, the plot, the characters, the crappy dialogue, the camera, the editing, even the special effects. When the movie-makers rush everything you know you're in for a lousy hour and… what is it? 28 minutes? Yep.
But here's the thing that sucks the most about this sequel: The Underworld movies are about two people, Selene and Michael. It's not the vampires or the werewolves. It's not the special effects. It's not Kate Beckinsale's awesome body--OK, I'm wrong about that. It is Kate Beckinsale's body and Kate Beckinsale and everybody else involved in the franchise knows it or why else would she hold her ass up so high when she crawled around in this movie? Seriously, when she crawls around in Underworld 4, she arches her back so much that her ass goes up, up and away! A couple of times I actually that it was going to take off like Superman and leave the rest of her, uh, behind.
But above and beyond Kate Beckinsale's awesome body (and her ass's ability to fly), the heart of the franchise is the love between Selene and Michael and where that love takes them. It's about them. It's about their journey. Nothing else matters. Everything else is an asterisk.
When you cut out the heart's left ventricle, the right ventricle won't continue to pump. By cutting out Michael and replacing him with an irritating little vampire/werewolf girl that you do not like or empathize with (Bridesmaids anyone?), Underworld 4 seems like it wants to commit franchise suicide. (But worry not, Underworld fans! They really and truly are planning Underworld 5.)
So if I were you, I'd skip Underworld 4 and find a front row seat to the end of the world, December 21, 2012. It will be much more entertaining.
My rating: As much Russian vodka as you can imbibe without it killing you so that you will not remember the movie experience and continue to believe Underworld is a trilogy, not a tetralogy (sorry, I mean a pentalogy, since they're planning Underworld 5), a scratched DVD copy of 2012, the dumbest science fiction movie ever made, and a nametag with your name on it: Richard Corliss.