Archive for the ‘vampires’ Category
With dizzying cinematic tricks and astonishing performances, Francis Coppola’s 1992 version of the oft-filmed Dracula story is one of the most exuberant, extravagant films of the 1990s. Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder, as the Count and Mina Murray, are quite a pair of star-crossed lovers. She’s betrothed to another man; he can’t kick the habit of feeding off the living. Anthony Hopkins plays Van Helsing, the vampire slayer, with tongue firmly in cheek. Tom Waits is great fun as Renfield, the hapless slave of Dracula who craves the blood of insects and cats. Sadie Frost is a sexy Lucy Westenra. And poor Keanu Reeves, as Jonathan Harker, has the misfortune to be seduced by Dracula’s three half-naked wives. There’s a little bit of everything in this version of Dracula: gore, high-speed horseback chases, passion, and longing.
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a feverishly inventive movie that often overwhelms its own narrative flow, yet proves irresistible to watch. Coppola’s baroque, operatic set design, costumes, and cinematography look as lavish as they did on the film’s first release. The director’s grab-bag of visual effects are still bold and unabashed, if often over-the-top, and the actors still appear caught up in a certain hysterical pitch that feels a little forced but can be a lot of fun to watch. Gary Oldman’s imaginative performance as the titular vampire carries the weight of Coppola’s vision of Count Dracula as a tragic-romantic hero with Christ-like overtones. Keanu Reeves still looks a little lost in the pivotal role of Jonathan Harker, the London clerk who finds himself a prisoner in a Transylvanian castle while a 400-year-old vampire makes a play for his fiancée back home (Winona Ryder). Anthony Hopkins is fearless as a daft Von Helsing, and Sadie Frost is very good as the doomed Lucy. –Tom Keogh
Blade meets The Crow and The Matrix in Underworld, a hybrid thriller that rewrites the rulebook on werewolves and vampires. It’s a “cuisinart” movie (blend a lot of familiar ideas and hope something interesting happens) in which immortal vampire “death dealers” wage an ancient war against “Lycans” (werewolves), who’ve got centuries of revenge–and some rather ambitious genetic experiments–on their lycanthropic agenda. Given his preoccupation with gloomy architecture (mostly filmed in Budapest, Hungary), frenetic mayhem and gothic costuming, it’s no surprise that first-time director Len Wiseman gained experience in TV commercials and the art departments of Godzilla, Men in Black, and Independence Day. His work is all surface, no substance, filled with derivative, grand-scale action as conflicted vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale, who later became engaged to Wiseman) struggles to rescue an ill-fated human (Scott Speedman) from Lycan transformation. It’s great looking all the way, and a guaranteed treat for horror buffs, who will eagerly dissect its many strengths and weaknesses. –Jeff Shannon
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans delves into the origins of the centuries-old blood feud between the aristocratic vampires, known as Death Dealers, and the barbaric Lycans (werewolves). A young Lycan, Lucian (Michael Sheen), emerges as a powerful leader who rallies the werewolves to rise up against Viktor (Bill Nighy), the cruel vampire king who has persecuted them for hundreds of years. Lucian is joined by his secret lover, the beautiful vampire Sonja (Rhona Mitra), in his battle to free the Lycans from their brutal enslavement.
Better action, a bit of sex, and gorier R-rated violence make Underworld: Evolution a reasonably satisfying sequel to 2003′s surprise hit Underworld. Looking stunning as ever in her black leather battle gear, Kate Beckinsale is every goth guy’s fantasy as Selene, the vampire “death dealer” who’s now fighting to stop the release of the original “Lycan” werewolf, William (Brian Steele) from the prison that’s held him for centuries. As we learn from the film’s action-packed prologue, William and his brother Marcus (Tony Curran) began the bloodline of vampires and werewolves, and after witnessing centuries of warfare between them, their immortal father Corvinus (Derek Jacobi) now seeks Selene and the human vampire/lycan hybrid Michael (Scott Speedman) to put an end to the war perpetuated by Victor (Bill Nighy), the vampire warrior whose betrayal of Selene turns Underworld: Evolution into an epic tale of familial revenge. This ambitious attempt at Shakespearean horror is compromised by a script (by Danny McBride and returning director Len Wiseman, Beckinsale’s real-life husband) that’s more confusing than it needs to be, with too many characters and not enough storytelling detail to flesh them all out. Aspiring to greatness and falling well short of that goal, Underworld: Evolution succeeds instead as a full-throttle action/horror thriller, with enough swordplay, gunplay, and CGI monsters to justify the continuation of the Underworld franchise. If you’re an established fan, this is a must-see movie; if not, well… at least it’s better than Van Helsing! –Jeff ShannonUnderworld