Physics Optional: Underworld Awakening Review

I have been firmly lodged in the Underworld cult since the first movie. Perhaps it was because I was young and impressionable, but when I saw Kate Beckinsale drop a hundred feet off the roof of some Gothic building in Prague…I suppose you can say you had me at leather trenchcoat.

There’s something about her British accent and ass-kickery, like you took a Jane Austen character and gave her a gun. There’s something about Bill Nighy’s slow, agonizing transformation from corpse to Bill Nighy. There’s something about irradiated bullets.

Ultimately, it’s just that the vampires in Underworld are everything I want a vampire to be. Sexy, lethal, amoral killing machines who regard humanity as something beneath their notice.

So, I donned my 3D glasses and headed out to the midnight showing of Underworld: Awakening.

First things first: turns out I’m not a fan of 3D. Lots of blood spatter and glass breaking, if you’re into that kind of thing.

The movie starts with a recap.

I get it. You’re assuming the people who show up for the blood bath are interested in what happened before, and, for the most part, you are correct. Trust me, the people coming to this movie are familiar with what’s happened. No need to remind us.

In this installment, humanity has discovered the existence of lycans and vampires and sets out to destroy them. The irradiated and silver nitrate bullets that the vampires and lycans used to ravage each other are now in the hands of humanity (whoops!), and the two species of the night are being systematically wiped out. Initially, this is okay. The humans are winning.

Then, you get to Selene. She’s a Death Dealer, trained to hunt down and kill werewolves. Humans don’t really stand a chance. They capture her with a luck grenade, she’s frozen for twelve years, then someone breaks her out.

This is where things got a little uncomfortable. You see, I’m cool with the whole monster fight. In ways, the lycans and vampires are evenly matched. But, when you unleash a relentless vampire on a group of humans, it’s a just not fair.

In one scene, Selene sprints down a hallway, slitting throats the whole way. After a bit of cringe-worthy bone-breaking, they get back to killing werewolves pretty quick.

Story happens. I wasn’t really paying attention to that part. Something about a hybrid and a little girl…I don’t even know.

Good news! The whole ‘silver whip’ as an effective weapon against lycans gets a great scene. We get a hot, new vampire to look at (Theo James), plus a human detective (Michael Ealy) who gets very little character development, but enough to make me point at the screen and say, “More”.

Other good news! Spoiler Alert: Not everyone dies in the end! That has been a trend in the previous movies…everyone except the two main characters are dead by the ending. In this one, New Vampire, Detective, Little Girl, and Selene are all ready to hunt down the fleeing Michael at the end of the movie.

The movie is not perfect by any means (what movie is?), but it was fun. It lived up to my expectation. I am clinging to the notion that maybe, some day, the Underworld franchise will get the story that it deserves (no zombies; please, God, no zombies).

I’m not the first person to love something for its potential.

My So-called (Immortal) Life

I love vampires.

I mean, really.

I love high-holy asskickery. I love moral qualms. I love vicious sociopathic killers. I love those looking for redemption. My only criteria seems to be they have the potential for immortal life and feed off some aspect of humanity, be it blood, emotion, or culture.

So, I present to you a thought experiment.

What if you were a vampire?

Haha! Awesome! So cool! I would run really fast and make out with hot guys (girls) and drink so much blood you wouldn’t even believe…hold the phone. That’s not where I was going with this.

What if you were a vampire 300, 400, or 500 years old?

I think you would be bored. Insanely, mind-numbingly bored. Let’s say you were turned at the ripe old age of 26. You have eternal youth on your side, but you’re not a pimply teenager anymore. Face it, stalking and biting humans is not what it was. Maybe once upon a time (maybe, mind you), people had a healthy sense of self-preservation coupled with the fear of constant suspicion that kept them in the house after dark, or safe in herds during the day. That could mean there used to be a thrill to the hunt, but that would fade. Humans aren’t so hard to separate from the back, and, as time passes, we are less and less suspicious of paranormal occurrences.

As a vampire, you rarely see another of your kind. You are completely and utterly alone. Any connection you try to make is gone within several decades, so you would stop making those connections. What would you hold on to? Say you play the piano. You have forever to perfect your art. Would you procrastinate?

Think about human ingenuity in the last 500 years. How would you react to a vastly changing world? Flight, social reform…look at the Internet. MySpace was a blink of the eye. World War II would be “that thing with Germany…you know, the second time”.

Don’t believe me? Let me refer you to one of the most stunning vampire films of all time.

Groundhog Day.

Yep, Bill Murray is a freaking vampire. As long as he is stuck in Groundhog Day, he is immortal. Truly immortal. He tries to kill himself dozens of times. Maybe he doesn’t fit the “feeding off humanity” criteria, but he is sort of a menace to it.

Obsessed with Film writer Simon Gallagher did the math and put the final tally at 33 years and 358 days. Whether you agree or not, this is one of the most interesting psychological looks at immortality.

Not to mention it’s funny.

Now, imagine Groundhog Day for 500 years. Now, that’s a vampire.

Book Breakdown: Throat

I’m not afraid to admit it.

I’m a sucker for vampires (haha, bad pun), but seriously…

You really, really, really, really have to screw with the vampire myth to make me stop reading. Your vampires go out in sunlight? I’m cool with that. Your vampires are fat? I’m cool with that. Your vampires actually suck ink from books rather than blood from veins? Yep, I’m down with that. Hand it over.

Here’s a vampire book I picked up at the library, so, just a day after you thought I dropped out of the blogosphere forever, I bring you:

Book Breakdown:

(I vant to suck your blood)


Not going to lie, (LaVar Burton would be disappointed) I chose this book because of its cover. I mean, look at that. I am a fan of raw and that looks RAW. Exposed. Vulnerable.

Now, I’m not a shallow person. Good writing is good writing is good writing. I would read a good book no matter what image was plastered on the front of it, but this sings to you from the shelves in a sort of visceral way that’s a little uncomfortable if you think about it too much.

And, then there’s the title, when matched with the cover, makes you a little queasy. Like you’re getting punched in the stomach.

The thing is: the significance of the throat comes up in the narrative. And, it’s awesome. Also, creepy.

R.A. Nelson spins the story of Emma. She’s 17 years old and is attacked by a vampire one evening. However, during the attack, she has a Grand Mal seizure, disrupting her attacker. While she has some sensitivity to sunlight, she gains all the strengths and none of the weaknesses.

In order to save her family, Emma runs away from home and takes up residence in an abandoned section of a NASA base and prepares to confront her attacker in order to return home without fear of him finding her and killing her family.

The book is lyrical, and smooth from start to finish. The romance is honest. While Emma starts out a bit unsympathetic, the reader quickly settles into the character’s mindset and discovers why she is what she is.

While Nelson brought in some great worldbuilding, there were new concepts being introduced late in the game that were unimportant to the story (unless there are plans on sequel, series, etc.). Whether red herring or makings of a series, some of the details were distracting in their lack of significance to the plot. You can usually weed out what can be ignored.

First Ten:

The first ten pages of Throat were like reading a poem. There was something in the rhythm, the imagery, and the vocabulary that swept me along to a point where I didn’t realize I was past ten pages until I was on twenty-five.

I’ve been gone so long, I forgot how to end these things so, um, here’s a bat.