The World’s End (2013)


That’s Why I Drink Using a Crazy Straw.  Not So Crazy Now!

The World's End (2013)When this movie was out in theaters, I was very excited to see it.  It was the third outing for a director I love, two writers I love, and two actors I love.  I even saw this movie while it was still in theaters.  And then I forgot to review it.  My notes must’ve gotten covered up on my desk and I eventually just forgot that I hadn’t done it yet.  I’ve even reviewed the other two movies in the trilogy in preparation for this review!  Then, when this movie came out on DVD on Tuesday, I went to repost my review to let people know if they should buy it, only to find that I had failed you all.  Well no more!  Today, I bring you my late review of The World’s End, written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, directed by Edgar Wright, and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Rosamund Pike, Paddy Considine, Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, David Bradley, Michael Smiley, Pierce Brosnan, and Bill Nighy.

Gary King (Simon Pegg) sets his sights on getting the band back together, recruiting his old high school friends – Andy Knightley (Nick Frost), Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver “O-Man” Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), and Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) – to finish the 12 bar pub crawl that they attempted and failed 20 years earlier.  The other friends have all grown up and none are interested in making the attempt, but Gary manages to persuade all of them anyway.  But when the group arrives in Newton Haven, they find that things have changed.  Is it because they’ve all grown older, or is it because the town has been taken over by alien robots?  Who can say, really?

The problem I had with this movie is that it was part of the Cornetto trilogy.  On its own, I imagine I would’ve thought it was fantastic.  I guess I still did, but the problem is that Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz were superior.  So it’s the worst of the Cornetto trilogy, but still one of the best comedies of this year.  It’s a lot of the writing that makes these movies so enjoyable.  They’re chock full of fantastic wordplay and the stories are so well thought out that they you have to really pay attention to the little things to see all of the hidden jokes.  But I greatly appreciate some good wordplay.  Their Peter/Paul run was good, Dr. Ink was great once I figured it out, the white lie of his mother’s death line was hilarious, and many of the selective memory jokes were all the reasons that these movies stand apart so well.  I also appreciated all the ways Gary misunderstood what people were saying to him, like when he said, “What the fuck does WTF mean?”  But I think the thing I always appreciated most about these Cornetto movies is how they foreshadow everything that’s going to happen in various different ways; be they from off-handed remarks people make to the names of the bars and the order they’re in.  They’ve always been expertly hidden in their movies.  I know that I had to watch Shaun of the Dead a second time before I truly saw the brilliance of the movie.  This movie does the same thing, but part of the problem is that I expected the foreshadowing because of their other two movies, and it can kind of spoil the outcome.  Though the outcome isn’t the biggest twist in the world, so it isn’t that big of a loss.

Another thing that sets the Cornetto movies apart from most comedies is that they are legitimately good examples of the movie types they’re parodying.  Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite zombie movies.  Hot Fuzz is one of my favorite action movies.  And now The World’s End would definitely fit towards the top of my science fiction movies.  They have some great special effects and some fantastic action as well.  Where else might you see Simon Pegg Rock Bottom someone and Nick Frost deliver a People’s Elbow?  Then there’s a big fight where Nick Frost lays a beating down on a room full of robots and Simon Pegg fights like Jackie Chan in the Legend of Drunken Master.  I’m 100% behind all of this!

No surprises here, but I still love all the people I loved before I even started watching this movie.  And I started loving those I was indifferent to.  Simon Pegg is still fantastic.  He did a great job of being funny and always appearing jovial while still seeming like there was some depression hiding just beneath the surface.  Nick Frost was losing me towards the beginning of the movie when he was straight-laced and generally being a dick to Simon, but once he starts slamming down the shots he got back to the Nick Frost I love.  Also, this movie has the second James Bond in one of the Cornetto trilogy (Pierce Brosnan.  Hot Fuzz had Timothy Dalton) and the first one to have a Bond girl (Rosamund Pike).  Interesting fact, but not interesting enough to give me something else to say about it.

I would say that The World’s End is the weakest of the three movies in the Cornetto Trilogy, but with the level of competition offered by the other two that’s not saying much.  The World’s End is a great movie on its own, but it can be somewhat hindered by the comparison.  The story is good though it gets a little heavy handed at the end, but how well it’s planned out and how well the jokes are written can easily overcome that minor problem.  It’s also got some really good action scenes and a phenomenal cast.  This is still definitely a movie that’s worth seeing.  In fact, it’s good enough to just go out and buy.  The World’s End gets “I still think nothing that has been suggested in the last 10 minutes beats ‘smashy smashy egg men’” out of “There’s only one Gary King!”

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Total Recall (2012)


Trust Me, Baby, You’re Gonna Wish You Had Three Hands.

Total Recall (2012)Remakes get a really bad rap. But, most of the time, they deserve them. Remakes are usually a sign that Hollywood has run out of ideas and must dig into movies that have already been made instead of supporting a new idea. It typically gets even worse when the movie that’s being remade is a movie that’s generally agreed upon as a movie that does not require a remake. If we already have that movie and it was good, you’re probably not going to add anything to it. All of that lead to me not really having a great desire to watch today’s movie. But when my end of the year review was approaching, my standards lowered and I decided to watch the remake of Total Recall, loosely based on the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” by Philip K. Dick, written for the screen by Kurt Wimmer and Mark Bomback, directed by Len Wiseman, and starring Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bill Nighy, Bokeem Woodbine, John Cho, Ethan Hawke, and Kaitlyn Leeb.

In the near future, war has devastated the Earth … because no movie can let us think that we have anything to look forward to. The world has mostly mellowed out, but a group of resistance fighters still occasionally cause trouble for the Man. A factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) decides to visit a place called Rekall to get some artificial memories implanted to add some excitement to his life, even though his bangin’ hot wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale) and straight-jackin’ best friend Harry (Bokeem Woodbine) warn him against it. The Rekall employee, Bob McClane (John Cho), suggests that Quaid try out their secret agent package, but also warns him that past memory augmentations could create problems. Suddenly, Bob gets agitated by something on the computer and pulls a gun on Quaid, but is killed by a SWAT team that arrive and attempt to arrest Quaid, who proceeds to beat the snot out of all of them with skills he didn’t realize he had. Confused, he goes home to his wife, who perplexes him further by going all Death Dealer and trying to kill him. He eventually gets rescued by Melina (Jessica Biel), who tells Quaid that he is a spy working with the Resistance. Is this all a fake memory?! IS IT?!?!?!? ANSWER ME!!!!!

Some people gave this movie a hard time because they have such fondness for the original that they could not stomach the notion of it being remade. The difference between those people and me is that I have no particular fondness for the original. I saw the movie much later in life than most people did, and found it entertaining enough, but dated and extremely goofy in parts. That didn’t stop me from finding the irony in the fact that the studio behind this movie was called “Original Film” though. I mean, that’s balls! To call yourself “Original Film” and put out a movie that is a remake of a movie that was itself based on a book is pretty amusing to me. But, once I got into the movie, I actually found that I liked it more than I liked the original movie. It wasn’t terribly goofy and the action and visuals had drastically improved from the original. The opening perplexed me a little bit because it pretty much gave away the fact that Quaid worked for the Resistance, and only thinly veiled that by writing it off as a dream sequence, but when I got to thinking about it I realized that they were probably well aware of the fact that the people seeing this movie had probably already seen the other movie and that trying to act like it was a surprise would’ve just been a waste of time. But from that point on I was on board with the story pretty much all the way through. Sure, it wasn’t drastically different from the original movie, but who cares. It was a fun movie. I did get a little perturbed by the scene with Harry, where he’s trying to convince Quaid to shoot Melina because he was trying to convince him that he was trapped in the Rekall machine and couldn’t get out without shooting her. I feel like that moment would’ve been really easy for me. Just shoot the guy! If you kill him, then he was lying and was working for the enemy. If you don’t kill him because he wasn’t real, then he wasn’t real and who gives a shit? And let that be a warning to all of my friends: if you try to convince me I’m in a dream world, my first response will be to try to kill you.

The look of this movie took drastic steps in the right direction. The future world was very well-realized. They didn’t go horribly over the top with the future technology, but they also didn’t just set it in today’s world and say it was the future. I particularly liked the LCD Phone he had in his hand that he could touch to glass to display pictures. Take that, Samsung Galaxy Note 2! Acting all big and bad and shit! (This review is sponsored by the LG Optimus G. “If you want a phone, go with the O.G.”) One of the pieces of technology in this movie was the money they used in the future, the Obamoney. …Cute… The action in the movie was mostly over-the-top, but definitely fun to watch, even though the camera could go a little crazy in some of the scenes. I probably could’ve done without a lot of the music in the movie. I assume what I was hearing a few times in this movie would be considered “dub step,” but I really have no way to be sure. I’ve been graced enough in life to have little to no experience with dub step beyond hearing people make fun of it.

I really didn’t have a lot to say about the performances in this movie. Literally. The only note I took in the performances department was: “Bokeem Woodbine. ‘STRAIGHT JACKIN’!” And even that is just a joke meant strictly to amuse my friend Phil and me. Not that anyone in this movie did a bad job; it’s just that I didn’t have anything to say about any of them. …Any of them save for one. The crowning achievement in this movie was the performance by Kaitlyn Leeb who played the Three-Breasted Woman. YAY! THEY GAVE US THE THREE-BOOBED CHICK! That’s almost entirely all I remember about the original movie!

It’s probably not a popular opinion to admit that I enjoyed this movie more than I enjoyed the original Total Recall. The story was roughly the same but thankfully much less goofy than the original, and the visuals and the action were far better. And the performances included Bokeem Woodbine and a chick with three boobs, so I’m down with them as well. I don’t know if I’d feel the need to buy the movie, but it’s definitely worth checking out as a rental. Total Recall gets “The past is just a mental construct” out of “And by the way, you haven’t even begun to see me try to kill you!”

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Wrath of the Titans (2012)


You’re Sweating Like a Human.

I shouldn’t have wanted to see today’s movie, but I inexplicably did.  I saw the original movie a really long time ago and absolutely loved it.  Then they remade that movie, and it was disappointing and dumb.  Then they made a sequel to that, and the response was pretty consistently that it was worse than the first.  Whether it was my love of the subject matter or just the expectation of the fun that can accompany a big dumb action movie, I really couldn’t say.  But I wanted to see it.  Not enough to make me go to the theaters for it, and not enough to make my buy it on DVD when it was released.  But, when my roommate Richard showed me a selection of 5 movies he had purchased digitally to watch, I instantly picked this one.  How’d it go?  You’ll find out in my review for Wrath of the Titans, written by Dan Mazeau, directed by Jonathan Liebesman, and starring Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, Édgar Ramirez, Toby Kebbell, Rosamund Pike, Danny Huston, Bill Nighy, and John Bell.

Perseus (Sam Worthington), the demigod son of Zeus (Liam Neeson), is trying to live the quiet life of a fisherman with his 10-year-old son, Helius (John Bell), after his famed defeat of the mighty Kraken.  Zeus visits Perseus to warn him that the power of the gods is weakening and the walls of Tartarus that contain Zeus’ father, the mighty titan Kronos, are breaking down.  Perseus tells Zeus where he can cram it.  Zeus travels to Tartarus to meet with his brothers, Hades (Ralph Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston), and Ares (Édgar Ramirez) and Hades jump Zeus and Poseidon, capturing Zeus and mortally wounding Poseidon.  As Ares and Hades set Zeus up to have his powers drained by Kronos, Poseidon travels to Perseus to tell him what happened.  With Poseidon’s trident, and Poseidon’s son Agenor (Toby Kebbell), as well as Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Perseus sets out to meet with Hephaestus (Bill Nighy) to find a weapon powerful enough to defeat Kronos.

Yet another disappointing outing for Greek mythology.  I’ve had a love for Greek mythology since my childhood which makes it even more disappointing that I haven’t seen a good movie about that era in a while.  300 was in 2007 and Troy was 2004, and neither of those was actually a mythology thing as much as it just happened around that time, and those gods were mentioned in passing.  Since then I’ve seen Clash of the Titans, Wrath of the Titans, and Immortals, and none of those movies made a good run at it.  But, one thing this movie does have going for it that the Clash of the Titans remake did not is that this movie isn’t shitting on a movie I love.  This is a somewhat original idea that wasn’t very good.  It’s only loosely based on any kind of mythology, and pretty much the only thing that makes it Greek mythology is the name and relationships of the characters.  Since it has nothing at all to do with any Greek mythology, I probably would’ve been happier with it if they had just made it their own story and not included Zeus and Perseus and all the rest of them.  But, if they just made this exact movie about the demigod Steve and his father, the god Mike, I probably wouldn’t have been interested anyway, so fuck me I guess.  Well the story wasn’t great either way.  It’s mainly just about a couple of people wandering through various green-screened settings until they find a stick that kills the big bad thing.  Also, my recollection of the Clash remake is that it was mostly about how humans didn’t need the gods to achieve something.  I recall Perseus refusing to use his fancy god weapons because of this, but this one goes exactly opposite that.  Perseus can’t do shit without the fancy god weapon in this one, so he spends the entire movie looking for it.  The more human Perseus also tries fighting the more god Ares multiple times during the movie, but humanity certainly isn’t good enough this time around.  ::SPOILER ALERT::  Also, the defeat of Ares is super disappointing, as Perseus beats him with a rear naked choke hold.  Which means, for the audience, that Perseus jumped on Ares’ back and wrapped his arm around Ares’ neck and it just became a race to see if Ares or the audience would fall asleep first.  The conclusion of the entire movie was also very disappointing.  First, the defeat of Kronos felt like not much more than Perseus dropping a shiny toothpick down Kronos’ gullet.  ::END SPOILERS::  The very ending of the movie was just kind of confusing and lame.  The god’s have a big walk off into the sunset kind of thing, the humans celebrate Perseus’ victory, something about training Perseus’ son to be a soldier.  I don’t really know what happened because it was rushed and confusing.  All I really know that happened was that I was disappointed.

In the movie’s defense, the look and scale of the movie was all pretty damned epic.  They have a cool looking chimera that was probably in God of War, a giant lava guy that was probably in God of War, an epic Labyrinth that I’m pretty sure was in God of War, and a bald white guy with red symbols painted on him and swords chained to his wrist, but I didn’t recognize him.  The look of the movie seems to owe a lot to the God of War games, but there’s a chance that it wasn’t just a straight rip off.  But if Kronos wasn’t ripped off from God of War, it’s entirely possible that it was just a slightly altered remake of the Balrog from Lord of the Rings.  I also liked the guys with two torsos that were fighting in the last battle.  They worked pretty well.  Also, when Zeus and Hades teamed up to kick some ass, I thought that was very exciting.  Though most of the stuff in the look of the movie felt like I had seen it before, I don’t mean to take away from its scale and grandeur.  It was possibly the only thing in this movie that was actually well done.

The performances were about as hit or miss as you can get.  Sam Worthington has never impressed me.  He’s been in good movies before, but he’s never been what’s made them good as far as I’m concerned.  He’s not so much a bad actor, but he’s certainly not a good one.  And I guess it runs in the family, because the kid who played his son (Yes, I know that John Bell is not his real son.  The last names kind of gave it away for me) got on my nerves.  His biggest performance requirement was just to stand in the background of scenes and stare, dumbfounded.  It’s no surprise that Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes can bring it in the performance department, but it might be a surprise that they actually bothered to bring it for this movie.  They both did good jobs, but every time I saw them I just kept thinking about how the last time they were together before these movies was for Schindler’s List.  That’s fuckin crazy!  I would also count myself as a fan of Bill Nighy, but it occurs to me that this man does not do subtle.  It usually works for him though.  Also, that Bubo, the golden owl from the original Clash of the Titans, shows up in this movie was very exciting to me.  Not that it did anything, but it was there, man!

It didn’t come as a surprise for me that Wrath of the Titans was disappointing.  I was right in assuming that the story would have nothing to offer and I was right to assume that the only performances I’d like would be Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes, but I at least hoped that the action in this big dumb action movie would be satisfying.  Imagine my surprise when it was also disappointing.  The only things I really enjoyed about this movie were the visuals, but I feel like I can get most of that by playing God of War, and I’d enjoy myself more.  Wrath of the Titans isn’t bad enough that I would say don’t watch it, but it’s also not good enough that I’d recommend it.  If nothing else, get it from RedBox for a day and go in with low expectations.  Wrath of the Titans gets “Hades, I am so sorry for having done this to you” out of “Because I forgive you for this.”

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Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans (2009)


This is Just the Beginning

Further deeper into the Underworld we go, this time arriving at a movie I distinctly remember not liking, so much so that my OCD-like compulsions did not force me to complete the series for my DVD racks.  Everything about the movie would lead one to believe that this movie would be the worst of the three.  Not only was the previous director not on board, but the previous star decided against returning this time around.  They did manage to get someone that could pass for Kate Beckinsale if you didn’t look too hard, but they made her a somewhat secondary character in the movie.  All that being true, my memory is completely shit, so I needed to watch this movie again to be able to make any claims on it’s quality.  Now that I have, let’s see what I thought about Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans, written by Dirk Blackman, Howard McCain, and the wrong Danny McBride, directed by Patrick Tatopoulos, and starring Michael Sheen, Bill Nighy, Rhona Mitra, Steven Mackintosh, Kevin Grevioux, and Tania Nolan.

The events of the film happen well before we met Selene, back in the beginning of the war between vampires and werewolves.  Apparently, it all started when a girl who couldn’t act fell in love with a pasty sparklefart of a vampire and a Lycan with sweet abs.  No resolution could be reached and war broke out.  Oh wait, that’s a different movie.  This war is started because the first werewolf, William, has created an army of savage werewolves, unable to return to human form, and the vampires must defend themselves from the onslaught of werewolves.  This movie focuses on Lucian (Michael Sheen), the first werewolf born with the ability to return to human form.  They use Lucian to make other Lycans that can become human and turn them into slave labor, keeping them from turning Lycan with the help of a spiked collar, most of which say “Fido” or “Rex”.  Over time, Lucian begins a secret relationship with the daughter of the vampire elder, Viktor (Bill Nighy), a Beckinsale-esque girl named Sonja (Rhona Mitra).  This sort of relationship is what you might call “frowned upon”.  Adding to the problems they already have, Lucian gets pretty fond of this idea of “freedom”.  Viktor is every bit as keen on this idea as he would be of the idea that his pet is giving the red rocket to his daughter.  If we’ve already watched the other movies, we have a pretty good idea of where this is headed.

It apparently happens at least once in everyone’s lifetime, but I found that I was wrong on this day.  I actually enjoyed Underworld 3, possibly even more than I liked 1 and 2.  It was sort of a mix between things I liked about the first two movies: Underworld had a better story, but was light on action, whereas Underworld 2 didn’t have a great story, but did have more interesting action.  This movie satisfied me on both fronts.  The story was pretty interesting, and the action was good as well.  But I am man enough to admit that I’ve been wrong one time in my lifetime, so there it is.  Much better than I remembered it.  The story seemed to have mashed up elements of better stories.  It had a quasi-Romeo and Juliet, star crossed lovers business in there, it had a quasi-Braveheart fight for freedom thing (minus the antisemitism), and it had a quasi-The Crow revenge for dead loves plot.  Yeah, I could’ve warned against spoilers there, but they totally showed it in the first movie, so fuck off.  The story all worked for me, but it probably did suffer a little bit from the fact that I had just watched Underworld and was just waiting for all the things I knew were going to happen.  It did a great job fitting into the continuity that was laid out in the other films, but it also kind of hurt itself by allowing us to know exactly how the story turned out.  As with many movies, there were parts of the story that never really made sense to me.  The first one was the fact that they wanted these Lycans for their slaves, and to protect them during the day, but they wouldn’t allow them to turn into Lycans and use their real strength.  I understand that they’d be stronger and harder to control then, but why not just enslave humans then?  Why risk it in the first place?  Also, Viktor is given the chance to promote Lucian beyond his station, but turns it down, even though that course of action would clearly make things easier for everyone to deal with.  The biggest problem with the movie was the romantic relationship, but only because it was teetering dangerously close to bestiality.  The action was also very good in this movie, showcasing a good couple of pretty sweet battles between vampires and Lycans.  I especially liked the use of the giant ballistas when they pinned people against walls.

For the most part, any decisions you made about the performances of characters from the previous movies can be transferred over to this movie.  Michael Sheen becomes the star of this movie, and pulls it off very well.  He can do the action scenes, but dude can also act.  The terrible grief Lucian is going through as he watches his lady burn alive is very evident.  Possibly a better performance than this movie had comin’, but whatcha gonna do?  Rhona Mitra throws out the performance you would probably expect in that she doesn’t really impress.  She’s an attractive lady and all, but I couldn’t get over the distinct feeling that there was a good chance she was Steven Tyler.  I don’t have any proof for that … yet.  Bill Nighy’s performance was much better in this movie, not because he’s not a good actor, but the previous movies didn’t really require that much out of him.  He has a great bit of emotion over sentencing his daughter to death that I liked very much.  He’s still too old to really hold his own in the fight scenes though.  I got excited at one part because they had him put on a helmet that covered his face, so I thought he would be able to throw down because he could easily be substituted by a stunt man, but he very quickly removed his armor and jumped into the next scene.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Underworld movie I previously thought to be the worst one was actually probably the best one so far, having a more interesting story and better action than the previous two movies.  Most of the performances were good, and Rhona Mitra was Steven Tyler, but altogether I found the movie to be pretty enjoyable.  I guess I’ll be able to complete the series now, but only if the newest one holds up, and if it comes out with a BluRay tetralogy.  We’ll find out at least one of those things tomorrow, when I review the latest Underworld movie.  For now, Underworld: The Rise of the Lycans gets “You are credit to your race” out of “We are no better than the beasts at our door.”

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Underworld: Evolution (2006)


We Are Oddities of Nature, You and I

Continuing on into the Underworld makes me feel like Hercules or Dante.  Well, not really like Hercules, but I’m totally a poet like Dante.  That’s the facts, right there.  Also, that’s probably the smartest joke I’ll ever go for.  Let’s get back to talking about poop!  Underworld!  Okay, that was harsh.  Underworld turned out to be a pretty good movie, but one I remembered being better.  Unfortunately, I remember them going downhill pretty quickly into the third one, but I have not yet made my impression of the fourth one known.  Let’s see if that recollection still holds true as I review Underworld: Evolution, written again by a different Danny McBride than the one we are all thinking, directed again by Len Wiseman, and starring Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Tony Curran, Derek Jacobi, Brian Steele, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, Steven Mackintosh, Shane Brolly, and Zita Gorog.

Way back in the day, the three vampire elders – Viktor (Bill Nighy), Markus (Tony Curran), and Amelia (Zita Gorog) – are trying to track down Markus’ brother, William (Brian Steele), a werewolf who is going around making more Lycans that are savage beasts, unable to return to human form.  They finally capture William and have him imprisoned for all eternity, but Markus is not too cool with his bro-wolf being treated like a bitch.  Back to the now, the events of the last movie have set up Markus to awaken from his slumber, and he promptly kills the shit right out of Kraven (Shane Brolly) who, let’s face it, had that shit coming.  Elsewhere, the vampire Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and the hybrid vamplycan Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman) are driving around, occasionally stopping to fight things and fuck each other.  After killing Viktor, Selene is having memories pop of of when her father built the cage that holds William, so they’re looking for answers about that.  They stop in to see Andreas Tanis (Steven Mackintosh) and later look for the original immortal, father of Markus and William, Alexander Corvinus (Derek Jacobi).  All this time, Markus is also looking to free his brother.  Eventually, these two paths will probably converge.

This one’s probably about on par with the original.  The story takes a bit of a step down, being all about this chase to find some people’s jewelry that opens a sarcophagus restraining a big doggy.  It may even border on confusing, since everyone’s looking for the same necklace/ribcage bling (you’ll have to watch the movie to get that) and Selene barely knows what’s going on until her memories come back.  It’s constantly cutting back and forth between Markus and Selene to see what they were doing and I may have gotten confused, which may have not happened if I were paying more attention but, hey, that’s their fault.  Make a more interesting movie next time!  The action was a decent step up at times in this movie though.  There were a couple of solid fights and action scenes, and people actually tended to hit what they were aiming at.  I had a couple of issues with the climactic final fight of the movie though.  And, because it’s the final fight, I suppose there may be ::SPOILERS::  The fight is basically Michael and Serene versus William and Markus.  First off, Michael remains completely ineffectual, even though he’s the super hybrid.  I know he has no fight training or anything, but he basically just gets his ass kicked a lot.  He is the one that finally kills William by ripping his upper jaw off, and that was pretty badass, but I don’t know how much credit you can give him for beating William.  William is the super powerful first of all Lycans, but his strategy in this fight is to do a lot of standing in one place howling as he’s getting tons of bullets emptied into him.  Markus shows himself to be a pretty big badass by pulling a helicopter out of the air by the cable it has draped into the arena, and then goes to fight Serene.  They fight on a bridge with the still spinning blades of the helicopter right next to it.  Knowing that Serene is the heroine of this movie, you will never expect how their fight – stationed immediately next to spinning helicopter blades, mind you – will end.  It may shock you to find that he is knocked into the spinning helicopter blades.  Sure, you see it coming from a mile away, but it was pretty sweet.  ::END SPOILERS::  The look of this movie also improves a little.  The most notable improvement is that a pair of tits makes it’s way onto this movie.  Unfortunately, they aren’t Beckinsale’s.  Other than that, the Lycans are a little more convincing, and the amount of fake blood is probably doubled for this movie.

The performances were mostly by the same actors, so you can be assured that the performances have not changed drastically from the first movie.  Kate Beckinsale still looks good in them skintight suits, having decided against splurging on Haagen Dazs with her check from the first movie.  I thought it was strange that she kind of acted a little trepidatious about getting her freak on with Speedman, even though they had already had some good make out sessions.  I guess there’s a chance she was a virgin, though, so she might’ve been hesitant to give that up.  Everyone acted like the 40 year old virgin was so sad, but Selene could have been the 121 year old virgin for all we know.  Scott Speedman continued to not impress me.  I wanted this hybrid to be awesome, but he really never does anything impressive.  The most impressive thing about him is that he is constantly coming back from situations that should have killed him.  So can cockroaches, and I don’t call them badasses either.  Get your shit together, hybrid!  Tony Curran is the new, big baddie for this movie, and most of the time he’s pretty good and intimidating.  Derek Jacobi was also pretty good as Alexander Corvinus, but neither of them really gave me anything much to talk about.

Underworld: Evolution manages to not drive the series down.  If you liked Underworld, you’re probably down with this one too.  I probably appreciated this movie a little more because, though the story that never interested me too much stepped down a bit, the action that I liked amped up slightly.  It also looked much better, having probably benefited from the success of the first movie.  I own this movie on DVD, just as I do the first one, and I think it’s definitely worth a watch.  Problematically, I remember disliking the third movie in this series, so much so that I actually never purchased it on DVD, even with my OCD-like need to complete series in my DVD collection, and that one is up next.  We’ll find out how that one goes tomorrow, but for now Underworld: Evolution gets “You depend on blood” out of “You are unwelcome in my presence.”

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Underworld (2003)


A Full-Grown Man Bit You?

I recently found myself on a trip from work, and mostly superbly bored.  Thankfully, there was a movie theater within walking distance of the hotel I was staying at.  I was saved!  During the course of this week, I managed to fit in two movies.  Today’s movie is not one of them.  Now, before you go crazy about that long introduction to nothing, it does relate to today’s movie.  The movie I saw in the theater was the fourth part of this series.  But, before I reviewed the newest one, I felt like I needed to review the previous three.  Today, we get started with the movie Underworld, written by Danny McBride (not THAT Danny McBride) and Kevin Grevioux, directed by Len Wiseman, and starring Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Bill Nighy, Michael Sheen, Shane Brolly, Erwin Leder, Sophia Myles, Kevin Grevioux, Zita Gorog, and Wentworth Miller.

As we all know, vampires and werewolves do not get along.  We join this fray as two of the vampire’s elite soldiers, the Death Dealers, are tracking a group of werewolves, here called Lycans, who are themselves tracking a guy named Michael Corvin (Scott Speedman).  This situation devolves into a fight between the Death Dealers and the Lycans, and only the Death Dealer Selene (Kate Beckinsale), the Lycan Raze (Kevin Grevioux), and Corvin walk away in tact.  Selene determines that the Lycans were hunting Corvin, but doesn’t know why.  I’ll tell you, Selene!  It’s because their leader, Lucian (Michael Sheen), is trying to create a hybrid of the vampires and the Lycans, and Michael Corvin is the last remaining descendant of the original immortal, Alexander Corvinus, and the only one likely to survive taking on the vampire and Lycan diseases simultaneously.  Selene is also not having fun times at home because Kraven (Shane Brolly), the guy currently running the household, is trying to tap that and she’s having none of it.  She wants to wake up her father-figure, Viktor (Bill Nighy), to help her fix a few issues, like the Michael situation and the fact that only Kraven asked her to the prom, and he’s so totally lame.

I remembered this movie being better than it turned out to be.  After having just recently watched the fourth movie, I expected this movie to be heavy on the action and light on the story, but this movie felt a little like the opposite.  The story is pretty good and interesting, but it definitely could’ve used more action, in my opinion.  The story is vaguely a mystery, but it’s never really kept all that mysterious to the audience.  We pretty much know what’s going down.  The characters in the movie remain oblivious to it much longer.  After that, it’s not a whole lot more than your average vampire/werewolf movie.  But, in a world where vampires go into the sunlight and become gay sparklefarts, this movie gets a little more love from me.  There were a couple of good lines in the movie as well, like when Michael was asking Selene what they do with the bullets after they interrogate the Lycans and she said “We put the bullets back in.”  They also did a good job hiding the big betrayal at the end of the movie.  But, on this watching, I found myself a little let down by the amount of action.  It was mostly cool and stylized when it happened, but it was pretty spread out here.  They probably assumed their story was a lot more compelling than I actually found it, but they should’ve given us a little more, and probably a little better action.  First of all, these bitches in this movie couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from three feet away.  98% of the bullets fired in this movie hit everything around their mark, but never the mark itself.  The only time I can presently remember anyone hitting what they aimed for was when Selene decided the best method for retreating was to point her guns at the ground and spin in a circle, effectively cutting a hole in the ground for her to fall through and then run off.  And speaking of falling: the director apparently loves to watch Beckinsale drop from high places.  We watch her jump from high locations and drop lightly to the ground about 10 times in this movie.  It’s not particularly interesting visually, so I’m not sure why I was watching it so much.  It seemed like the director was thinking that we may have forgotten that she was a vampire, so they better do something that other people couldn’t, like drop from 6 stories up and walk it off.  But I was with you, Wiseman, you don’t have to keep showing gravity’s money shots all the time.  The werewolves in the movie could’ve looked better, most of them being fairly reminiscent of Tokka from the second Ninja Turtles movie.  Sometimes they were entirely CG, but not all that convincing.  Other times they were kind of animatronic but they didn’t move very fluidly.  The vampires had a much easier day in the makeup chair, just having to be pasty white and wear a pair of contacts.  It also occurred to me during this movie that wearing vampire teeth apparently gives most people what I called “kissy face”, but I don’t feel like defining what I mean by that.  YOU FIGURE IT OUT!  Their transformation is also nowhere near as impressive.  The transformations of the Lycans, from humans to werewolves, was actually pretty well done.  Their bones shift in a way that makes your skin crawl, and they pop out hair as if they were Ron Jeremy or something.  The vampires?  Their teeth get a little longer and they hiss at people a lot.  I did like the whole process involved with waking Viktor up, involving an elaborate mechanism to bring his coffin out of storage, then the blood has to be focused or else his performance when he wakes up will be really quirky, and then you attach some blood bags to his back for a couple of hours.

The performances in this movie were surprisingly solid.  Kate Beckinsale’s main goal in this movie seemed to be to wear skin tight leather and be ridiculously hot, and she knocks that part right the hell out of the park.  She also acted the part really well.  But at one point Kraven slaps her and, though she does that typical thing where she just looks right back at him defiantly, it made me wonder why the fuck this bad ass Death Dealer would let some asshole she hates already slap her in the face.  There was one weird scene where she, I guess, just took a shower and wrote the name “Viktor” in the fog on the mirror, then wiped it off.  I have no idea why this happened at all.  Thanks for wasting a minute of my life, movie!  Scott Speedman didn’t really do anything for me in this movie.  I was neither for nor against him.  I was hoping there would be a little more awesomeness out of him when he turned hybrid, but he was actually fairly ineffectual.  When he finally turns into a hybrid, his first big movie is to shove Bill Nighy like they were fifth graders on a schoolyard.  Granted, that shove put him through a wall and down a story or two, but it was a shove nonetheless.  Speaking of Bill Nighy, his quirky performance really works for the character here.  He was supposed to have fragmented memories, so his little weird mannerisms worked really well for it.  He was pretty bad in the fight scenes though.  He’s an old man, so I can’t blame him, but they maybe should’ve gone stunt double a little more than they did.  The first time I had seen this movie, I had no idea who Michael Sheen was, so I didn’t think much of him.  But having added Tron: Evolution and 30 Rock to my memories, I paid a lot more attention.  And he was really good.  He’s actually a funny, charming guy from what I’ve seen in interviews, but he can be a badass if he wants.  Shane Brolly is a very unlikeable character, but that’s what he’s going for.  It did bother me that he had this hot chick hounding after his nuts for probably centuries, but didn’t really catch on until the events of this movie.  That begs the question: How many Kravens does it take to screw in a hot blonde?  14, of course.

I remembered Underworld being much more awesome than it turned out being, but it was still enjoyable.  The story was good, but nothing really special.  The action was okay when it happened, but it should have happened much more.  And the look was pretty good, but they probably didn’t have very much money for special effects at this point.  We’ll see if that improves for the next movie.  But, for now, I still think Underworld is worth a watch.  I own it on DVD, and I don’t feel very bad about that.  So check it out if you haven’t already.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll be saying that the fourth Underworld is awesome, but you really need to catch up on the story to understand it.  Either way, Underworld gets “I want to stay with you…” out of “Your incompetence is becoming most … taxing.”

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2010 and 2011)


Not My Daughter, You Bitch!

Home stretch, people! Two Potter films and one Potter book remaining. I’ve enjoyed watching the films up to this point, but I do admit that 8 films in just over a day has begun to take it’s toll. It’s probably also taken it’s toll on you, my readers. If you have the dedication to my reviews to read 4 reviews, several thousand words, and lots of story summation, I thank you. But it’s about time we tie this up with a nice little bow on it. Today’s two films are based on one book, but it was determined that it held too much to compress into only one movie. I smashed them back together into one review. That review is of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, unfortunately the final book and final movie of the Harry Potter series, and fortunately the final review of Harry Potter I’ll have to write and you’ll have to read.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Year Seven)

Part One (2010)

Based on the novels by J.K. Rowling, written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by David Yates, and starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Rhys Ifans, Tom Felton, Jason Isaacs, Helen McCrory, Toby Jones, John Hurt, Julie Walters, Mark Williams, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Bill Nighy, Robbie Coltrane, Brendan Gleeson, Imelda Staunton, Timothy Spall, Warwick Davis, Miranda Richardson, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw, Harry Melling, Michael Gambon, George Harris, David Thewlis, Natalia Tena, Domhnall Gleeson, Clemence Poesy, Frances De La Tour, and Matthew Lewis.

Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has been doing lots of damage now that Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is out of the way. The Order of the Phoenix assembles at the house of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) with a plan to escape, using Pollyjuice Potion to make 6 decoy Harrys. The real Harry rides with Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), but shit goes down pretty quickly as the Death Eaters, and Voldemort himself, attack the group. Harry and Hagrid barely escape. Alastor Moody (Brendan Gleeson), does not survive. Back at the Weasley house, the family and Harry ready for the celebration of the marriage between Bill Weasley (Domhnall Gleeson) and Fleur Delacour (Clemence Poesy), which is then interrupted by Death Eaters. Hermoine Granger (Emma Watson) grabs Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Harry and apparates (teleports) to London. Here, they Pollyjuice their way into the Ministry of Magic and steal a Horcrux necklace from Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). The three barely manage to escape and Ron gets injured on the way. They find that they don’t know how to destroy the Horcrux, and Ron gets all pissy and leaves. Now, Ron and Hermoine spend the greater majority of the movie wandering around forests. Ron comes back and helps them destroy the Horcrux with the Sword of Gryffindor. They go visit Xenophilius Lovegood (Rhys Ifans), father of Luna (Evanna Lynch), who tells them about the Deathly Hallows, which is comprised of the Resurrection Stone, the Cloak of Invisibility, and the item Voldemort is looking for, the Elder Wand. But he was only stalling. They took Luna and giving Harry to them was the only way to get her back. Hermoine hits Harry in the face with a Stinging curse to disguise him and they’re taken to the dungeon of Belatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter), where they join Luna, Mr. Ollivander (John Hurt), and Griphook (Warwick Davis). With the help of Dobby (Toby Jones), they escape, but Belatrix gets the last laugh by throwing a knife and killing Dobby. At the end, Voldemort breaks into Dumbledore’s tomb and takes the Elder Wand for himself.

Part Two (2011)

Written for the screen by Steve Kloves, directed by Chris Columbus and David Yates. Adding to the cast Maggie Smith, Jim Broadbent, Emma Thompson, Miriam Margolyes, Kelly Macdonald, Gary Oldman, Geraldine Somerville, Adrian Rawlins, David Bradley, Katie Leung, John Cleese, and Zoe Wanamaker.

Harry, Ron, and Hermoine use Griphook to get into the vault of Belatrix to get another Horcrux. They get back into Hogwarts to get a Basilisk fang to destroy it, and to find another Horcrux. When they get there, all Hell breaks loose and Voldemort’s army begins to face off against the good wizards and witches of Hogwarts. Harry goes to the ghost of Helena Ravenclaw (Kelly Macdonald) to find another Horcrux. They get into a fight with Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) that ends in a huge ball of fire and Harry saving Draco’s life. They destroy the two Horcruxes and Voldemort begins to feel uneasy as he’s running out of Horcruxes and the Elder Wand isn’t obeying him. Harry, Ron, and Hermoine go to the docks where they watch as Voldemort kills Snape (Alan Rickman), having decided that the Elder Wand was obeying him because he killed Dumbledore. After Voldemort leaves, Snape tells Harry to take his tears and put them in the Pensive so he can watch them. The memories show Snape’s childhood and his undying love for Harry’s mother and how all he had ever done was to protect her. He also sees that Snape killed Dumbledore under Dumbledore’s orders, in order to gain Voldemort’s trust and because Dumbledore was dying from a curse anyway. In the dreams, Harry finds out that he must die if Voldemort is going to die. He goes to meet Voldemort in order to be killed by him, which Voldemort is happy to oblige. But the Elder Wand is Harry’s, who defeated Draco, who had knocked the wand from the hand of Dumbledore, and thus the wand would not kill him. Voldemort takes Harry’s body back to Hogwarts to crush their spirits, but Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) speechifies the joint and Harry pops up. The fight reignites. Neville cuts the head off of Voldemort’s snake, Nagini, destroying the last of the Horcruxes. Harry reclaims his wand from Voldemort and Voldemort disintegrates. Harry breaks the Elder Wand and throws it into a gorge. Cut to 19 years later and Harry and his wife Ginny are dropping their kids off at Platform 9 3/4. They see Ron and his wife Hermoine dropping off their kids. And that’s the end of that.

This is the first time I will say this: this Harry Potter movie didn’t need to be made. Not both of them, we as an audience needed an ending out of this series. But they acted like there was simply too much movie to possibly contain in one movie, even though it had been contained to one book. One might argue that they actually thought that there was too much money to be made from this audience to make it only seven movies, when 8 would give us so much more. I think these movies could have easily been cut down into one, epic, 3 to 3 and a half hour movie. But that’s not what they did, so you get two paragraphs here. The story of Part One was great in parts, but they spent a lot of time wondering around in the forest that I felt could have easily been left out. It opens up with Hermoine using a spell on her parents that make them forget about her completely and even wipe her out of the pictures on the mantle, not thinking apparently about the fact that the parents would probably look at the pictures of them sitting at opposite ends of an empty table with plenty of space for a daughter and cake. Oh, I guess we’ll ignore that because we’re apparently weird enough to have completely empty picture frames up. But that’s a sweet backdrop in that picture, isn’t it Honey? But the concept of this was pretty heart-wrenching. I wish they had shown some sort of closure to that at the end of the movie about whether or not she could go back with Voldemort dead. Shortly after that, I found myself confused about what a big deal it apparently was for Voldemort to ask for Lucius Malfoy’s wand. They all seemed to take it as being in such poor taste as to be equivalent to “Hey Lucius. Let me get a crack at that lady friend of yours.” They packed a good deal of action into the first half-hour of the movie, even going so far as to include a “car” chase on brooms, but they kind of jacked Men in Black by making Hagrid drive upside-down in the tunnel. Shortly after, Harry’s bird gets killed, which I was more bummed about than I should have been over the death of an owl. They had a nifty – albeit ineffectual – security device that created a cloud that looked like Dumbledore that charged at people entering the Sirius Black residence. It was cool, and would freak me out at first, but it just dissipates into dust when it reaches you. My heart would be pounding, but I’d continue to intrude. There was another kind of sweet little moment when Harry saw that Hermoine was sad about Ron leaving and he got her to stand up and dance with him a little bit to cheer her up. Though I feel like this movie fails a bit in story, it still wins in graphics and settings. Even though I thought the time in the wilderness was a waste of time, the settings were all great to look at. And when they got to Bathilda’s house, it was straight out of a horror movie. It was really dark and dilapidated, there was a creepy old lady that didn’t speak, and a dead body in a closet. When Hermoine read the story of the Deathly Hallows, the animation was pretty rad as well. It looked like the Corpse Bride, but it didn’t suck. And the part where a fake Harry and Hermoine were projected out of the Horcrux to keep Ron from destroying it, it was pretty good, mainly because Hermoine was naked and making out with Harry. It didn’t show anything, but it’s as close as I’ll get to Hermoine for a while, I’m sure. And I’ve already seen pictures from Equus.

Part Two pretty easily makes up for the shortcomings of it’s predecessor. Good story, coming from wrapping up the series, lots of action packed battles, plenty of cameos from almost all characters from the Harry Potter universe, and lots of good times. The opening shot was very well done. It was a slow push in on Hogwarts with a nice fog surrounding it and some really faint, Celtic-sounding singing going on. That Celtic music really gets at my emotions. I felt like they had to cram a lot of the Horcruxes into a small amount of time to wrap up the film, taking care of at least three of them in this movie alone. Getting to one of them, the encountered a Gemino curse that made things duplicate when they touched them and almost had them drowning in a sea of cups and bracelets. I thought this was cool, well done, and a pretty dangerous concept. Ron and Hermoine finally kiss in this movie, but at a strange time. It was right after destroying a Horcrux and water exploded up around them and they seemed to just be standing there, shrug, and say I guess we’ll do this now. There were a lot of good fights in this movie, though not as much as in Order of the Phoenix. I really liked when Maggie Smith threw down against Alan Rickman midway through the movie and, of course, there was Harry and Voldemort, but neither of them touched my favorite one, which was sadly built up more in my head from reading about it before hand. I had read that Belatrix Lestrange was fighting Hermoine, Ginny, and Luna when Molly Weasley, still grieving over the death of her son Fred, took over, threw down hardcore, and killed that bitch. She still fought Belatrix and called her a bitch, but I felt like they should’ve given that scene a lot more strength as it seemed to have when I read about it. It was still pretty badass to me, but I was expecting total epic status. I don’t know what Molly was so sad about though. Just like they said in Observe and Report, if one of the twins die, that’s why God gave us a spare. But speaking of disappointing death scenes, I felt like the defeat of Voldemort deserved a little more oomph than it got. Harry knocks his wand out and he just kind of dissolves. Shoot that asshole, Harry! Reducto that sumbitch and turn him into a red mist or some shit! When the Battle at Hogwarts begins, it is pretty wild. It made me think it was like Saving Private Potter or something. The way it looked with a lot of the color defused reminded me of Saving Private Ryan, actually. For another point on graphics, Part Two seemed to pay attention to the reaction to the new Tron movie and took the time to make young Alan Rickman look good. He doesn’t change drastically, but what they did worked. Contrarily, aging the four kids for the end scene where we see them dropping their kids off didn’t work too well. The guys were fairly convincing, but it seemed they barely touched Ginny and Hermoine. I guess they still want them to be attractive over all else.

The performances in these movies are at the peak of what we’ll see out of these kids in a Harry Potter setting. We’ve watched them grow, both physically and as actors, over the course of this series, and I think they’ve got this acting thing down by the seventh and eighth films. Eighth looks weird when typed. Anyways! All three of the kids have a couple of good angry moments that are caused by wearing the Horcrux in Part One, especially Ron who gets angry enough to leave his lady. I feel that Daniel Radcliffe deserves some kudos for the part where there were 8 Harry’s in the same scene, because he actually did act like the character who was supposed to be him. The part with him taking the bra off as Fleur/Harry was pretty funny, but Emma Watson’s face turning into Harry’s first was disturbing. When I eventually date and marry Emma Watson, I just know that I’ll have some flashback of Daniel’s face popping up mid-coitus. I won’t stop, though. Daniel Radcliffe ain’t that bad on the eyes. But Daniel also deserves some kudos for his scene at the end of Part One where he has to mourn the death of the puppet in his lap because of Dobby’s death. But that little shit deserved to die. I specifically remember you promising Harry that you would NEVER try to save his life again at the end of Chamber of Secrets. That’s what happens to liars! Part One temporarily added Bill Nighy into the series, which I liked, but then it made me think that the only British actors I love that aren’t in this series are probably just Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Part Two finally gives Warwick Davis a chance to have a meatier part, as Griphook and Flitwick didn’t have to do very much in the other movies. He has a good portion of the first part of the movie as Griphook, dies, and then shows up in the second half as Flitwick. I think it was Flitwick, but I’m not really sure. Helena Bonham Carter is still my favorite villain in the series, but I liked her so much more when she was playing Hermoine as Belatrix. Her portrayal was so much different than her normal portrayal of Belatrix. She actually seemed cute and adorable. Also, Ron looked badass with the beard and the bondage jacket that he wore as Belatrix’ backup. Kelly Macdonald shows up as Helena Ravenclaw in Part Two and actually kind of scared me. Them ghosts seem to be bipolar or something. But she was good, and I probably mostly paid attention because I was trying to figure out where I knew her from until I realized it was Trainspotting. I also like Draco’s parents, Jason Isaacs and Helen McCrory, because they really cared about their son’s well being, even though at least Jason Isaacs never had shown it before.

Sadly, that is it, folks. I have completed the Harry Potter series. I’m pretty sure J.K. Rowling isn’t going to be writing any more and, even if she does, it may well be out of the time that the same actors could come back for it, and they probably wouldn’t want to be trapped in this universe forever. I’ll miss them, but I suppose I could read those books I own. Or, fuck that. I’ll just watch the movies again if I want. For the time being, I’m well Potter-ed out and will need a break. As for the final two movies, I liked them both plenty, though Part Two I liked a lot more. I still think they could have cut down a lot of wasted space from the first movie and just made this one really long final movie. It’s not like the Potter fans wouldn’t sit through it, and you could do an intermission if you were so worried. I still dig them though. I bought the 8 pack and, knowing myself, will probably do it again when the definitive collection (that was advertised on these very BluRays) comes out. Fuck you, movie makers. Haven’t I given you enough?! No? Then I will give you “Just keep talking about that little ball of light touching your heart” out of “Only I can live forever”. HAPPY NOW?!?!

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