Una (2016)

Director: Benedict Andrews

Writer: David Harrower (Screenplay)

Starring: Rooney Mara, Ben Mendelsohn, Tara Fitzgerald, Riz Ahmed

 

Plot: A woman confronts an older man, her former neighbour, to find out why he abandoned her after they had a sexual relationship when she was thirteen.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Hard to Watch Drama

 

Story: Una starts as we meet Una (Mara) a young woman with a troubled past after she was sexually abused at the age of 13. Una goes in search for the man Ray, now going by the name Peter (Mendelsohn) to learn why he did what he did. We get flashbacks showing the relationship between a young Una (Stokes) and Ray which started as friendship before it went too far, landing Ray in prison.

We follow how both Una and Ray have spent years dealing with the consequences of that moment, Ray believing he wasn’t a paedophile but branded one so much so that he had to get a new name and town, Una looks to get the closure she never received as a child and this night of conversation look like it will offer that.

 

Thoughts on Una

 

Characters – Una is the once sexually abused teenager but has spent the next 15-years wondering why, waiting for the chance to speak to the man again, we see how to confronts him to explain her feelings while dealing with the lack of closure she ever had with him. Ray was the man that sexual abused Una when she was 13, he served his time and started a new life with a new name, he also believes nothing was truly wrong with what he did.

PerformanceRooney Mara does give us an emotionally driven performance throughout the film, Ben Mendelsohn is great throughout showing us a true outline of a men living with regret.

StoryThe story does cover a taboo subject, sexual interaction between a minor and an adult, it plays along the idea that not everything is about the idea whether it was right or wrong but what the people involved must deal with later in life if it was just an encounter over abuse. There will be the questions asked about whether it was or wasn’t abuse but that will also be asked through the film otherwise this is a story that focuses on the victim not living a health life, the adult needing to rebuild his life and keep it together when the truth comes around. This is a slow burning story and isn’t going to be with the light hearted due to the sensitive subject but does show us the important message.

SettingsThe low key settings show us this could be everyday life for the people involved which is the highlight, as it never over victimises anyone.

That Moment That Annoyed Me Breaking all the safety rules but not wearing hi-vis vests in a warehouse with forklifts operating.

Final ThoughtsThis is going to be a hard watch for many, mostly because of the subject matter. Away from this it also could play an important part to life looking at how the victims could be effected by anything that happens to them.

 

Overall: Important but slow drama.

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Franchise Weekend – Underworld: Blood Wars (2017)

underworldDirector: Anna Foerster

Writer: Cory Goodman (Screenplay) Kyle Ward, Cory Goldman, Kevin Grevioux, Len Wiseman, Danny McBride (Story/Characters)

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Theo James, Tobias Menzies, Lara Pulver, Charles Dance, James Faulkner

 

Plot: Vampire death dealer, Selene (Kate Beckinsale) fights to end the eternal war between the Lycan clan and the Vampire faction that betrayed her.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Final Nail in the Coffin

 

Story: Underworld: Blood Wars starts with backstory of Selene’s (Beckinsale) story and now that she is alone in the battle with nothing left to live for, she is hunted by the Lycans stills but does still have an ally in David (James).

With a new leader, Marius (Menzies) the Lycans want to put an end to the war with Semira (Pulver) the leader of the vampire covenant bringing in David’s father Thomas (Dance) one of the elders to bring Selene back into the fold to train the new vampire recruits ready for the war.

After what seems like a pointless training exercise, it turns out to be pointless training exercise as Semira has bought Selene into take her blood but when David finds a way to save Selene she must once again go into battle against both vampire and Lycans.

 

Thoughts on Underworld: Blood Wars

 

StoryOne of the biggest problems with the last film was that the story was difficult to make work, now we try to bring this out of sequence storytelling to the next chapter. This does feel like some part remake of the original and in the end the story does try to bring a bigger picture of a world we have finally had enough of now.

Action/HorrorMindless action and no horror, well that is the genre in a nutshell really.

Characters/PerformanceSelene is back yet again but you just don’t feel she is the kick ass heroine we have seen in the past, David continues to be just another leading man with nothing much going on, Marius does make for a slightly more interesting villain but again nothing special with Semira just being another power-hungry vampire character.

Performance wise it is nice to know Beckinsale has enough money now to go and make films she will be able to perform in, James has never proved himself as a leading man yet, Both Menzies and Pulver have studied up for the roles and just borrowed everything from the previous film without bringing an ounce of originality to their performances.actors

SettingsWe have the isolated style settings, I am not going to lie, I am confused with the timeline now, I thought the last film was in the future and nothing looked futuristic for the genre and returning to the coven war while good feels like nothing has evolved like the franchise should have.

Special EffectsWe have the special effects we have all come to know for this film, it isn’t on the strongest level with wildly over the top action, annoying amount of flashbacks through drinking blood memories.genre

Final ThoughtsHow has this series turned into an Uzi battle between vampires and Lycans, that is the biggest questions out there.

 

Overall: Painfully awful sequel that we didn’t need.

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Franchise Weekend – Underworld Awakening (2012)

underDirector: Mans Marling, Bjorn Stein

Writer: Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, J Michael Straczynski, Allison Burnett (Screenplay) Len Wiseman, John Hlavin (Story)

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Stephen Rea, Michael Ealy, Theo James, India Eisley, Sandrine Holt, Charles Dance

 

Plot: When human forces discover the existence of the Vampire and Lycan clans, a war to eradicate both species commences. The vampire warrior Selene leads the battle against humankind.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Action Packed Sequel

 

Story: Underworld: Awakening starts with back story in case you missed the first three films Selene (Beckinsale) explains to us the audience where we are in the story now, the story she thought she had won, but no humans are now the enemies. Humans are now tracking down both vampires and lycans killing any they find.

After being captured Selene returns to where she last remembers being only to discover it was 12 years ago, and her beloved Michael is missing. Selene goes on a killing revenge mission to discover the truth behind the reason why the humans kept her alive all this time. Selene works with fellow vampire David (James) as she learns just what remains of both species now.

Underworld: Awakening brings a new enemy in humans only to forget that issue quite quickly into the film by going back to the vampire and lycan battle. We get a massive middle finger to what the originals had by just going fully blown Resident Evil mode by having genetically enhanced lycans for the bigger opponent in battle, come on really? The special effects actually feel like a step back from the first films too while the action is just wildly over the top like before.

Beckinsale being back is a huge plus because she is just as ruthless as we remember her to be. James is just a poor replacement for Michael but that is down to character development no James’ performance, much the same could be said Ealy’s cop character who just helps with a solo scene to explain and no rival cop to contend with either and finally Stephen Rea is the doctor character you expect him to be, Charles Dance gets added for an experienced elder character while the rest are just generic almost extras.

 

Overall: All action no story with a love character just thrown into this story.

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Franchise Weekend – Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

underDirector: Patrick Tatopoulos

Writer: Danny McBride, Dirk Blackman, Howard McCain (Screenplay) Len Wiseman, Robert Orr, Danny McBride (Story)

Starring: Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Rhona Mitra, Steven Mackintosh, Kevin Grevioux, David Aston

 

Plot: An origins story centered on the centuries-old feud between the race of aristocratic vampires and their onetime slaves, the Lycans.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Poor Cash Grab

 

Story: Underworld: Rise of the Lycans starts by going full prequel on us where we see Viktor (Nighy) has bred Lucian (Sheen) to be the first lycan and to guard the vampires during the daylight hours. With an ever increasing threat the vampires need to find a new way to protect themselves with the idea being Lucian the loyal lycan lead the defence from outside the walls, but his secret relationship with Sonja (Mitra) the daughter of Viktor which drives Lucian to be free.

When Lucian defines his orders, it becomes clear that he has a power over all the wild lycans as well as having the respect from the other slave lycans. With Lucian leading the lycans the war between the vampires and lycans is set to begin.

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans brings the story back to the origin behind the original film with Viktor against Lucian, the problem is we learn most of the reasons within the first film and this ends up feeling like an over long flashback sequence that we didn’t need to really see. The film also feels a lot slower than the previous outing with a lot more sneaking rather than fighting.

Sheen and Nighy are brilliant actors but in this one they both look like they enjoyed the pay check to be involved while Mitra just isn’t on the same level as Beckinsale who is sadly missing this time around. I personally feel this film missed a huge chance to make itself unique to the other but in the end just feels like a rinse repeat of the first twos plot, a high-ranking vampire ruins the order of things taking away the peace that was once created. You also don’t see the threat in Lucian or Viktor because we know they are in a later instalment of the timeline.

 

Overall: This really is a disappointing addition to the franchise which takes away all the fun the first two had leaving us with a story we know the outcome of.

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Franchise Weekend – Underworld Evolution (2006)

underDirector: Len Wiseman

Writer: Danny McBride (Screenplay) Len Wiseman, Danny McBride (Story)

Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Derek Jacobi, Bill Nighy, Steven Mackintosh, Michael Sheen

 

Plot: Picking up directly from the previous film, vampire warrior Selene and the half werewolf Michael hunt for clues to reveal the history of their races and the war between them.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Solid Fun Sequel

 

Story: Underworld: Evolution starts as we go back to the beginning of the battle as Viktor (Nighy) Marcus (Curran) must deal with the reckless behaviour from William (Steele) giving us a look back at the battle with swords and crossbows. In this we learn more of Viktor’s turn on Marcus imprisoning him for all time.

Selene (Beckinsale) along with new hybrid Michael (Speedman) are now the enemies of both sides must locate Marcus to put an end to the battle once and for all, but he is just as evil as Viktor and with Corvinus (Jacobi) also after Michael it is down to Selene and Michael to work together to escape the hands of both sides of the war.

Underworld: Evolution continues the war between vampires and lycans but this time we have a new species evolving that is both vampire and lycan. We get plenty more action this time around with blood flying and bodies piling up all around but it the looks into the past that drives the film to the next level as we learn why the battle lines were first drawn. The settings all look to generic for the story too without any being memorable by the end of the film.

Beckinsale continues to show her kick ass side in this performance even if she does have to show a vulnerable side too. Where this film struggles are by making such a point out of the Selene character the rest all just seem to fall into generic forgettable characters for the series. This really disappoints what could be yet another brilliantly fun action fantasy film.

 

Overall: When it comes to sequels this is extremely watchable even if not very memorable.

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