Downton Abbey is a fine, well told saga and I want more!

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Downton Abbey is a big, lavish and sprawling narrative that is full of human drama.  Add some top-notch performances and excellent writing and you have entertaining, addictive story.  I just finished the two seasons and now I must wait– impatiently–for the next season due return in September.

Downton has way too many characters and threads to try to explain–but are easy to follow when watching. The basic premise follows the lives of the aristocratic family, the Crawleys (their lives upstairs) and their servants (their lives downstairs) at the family’s Yorkshire country home during 1916 to 1920.  I love the differences between the classes and the fact that honor and dignity does not limit itself to social status.  But to keep it simple I will say it’s good…really good! 

Writer and creator Julian Fellowes has an incredible talent!  He is able to weave these intricate stories together seamlessly and has created some wonderful characters that cover the range from sweet and innocent to conniving and bitchy.  I have several favorites–Anna and Mr.Bates, Lord Crawley, Mr.Carson, Mary and Matthew–but the best is Maggie Smith‘s Dowager Countess Violet Crawley.  She is the reason to watch–Ms. Smith has a pitch perfect delivery–her expressions and quips are CLASSIC!  It is always a pleasure to find a new beloved character–hats off to Ms. Smith!

If you can spare some time and you enjoy British drama (and humor), you will not be disappointed spending it at Downton Abbey–in fact, you may want to stay there. 

Season 1 promo:

Season 2 promo:

Haywire kicks ass! But disappointingly, that is about all it does…

I was excited about Haywire.  It boasted Steven Soderbergh, a great cast, a spy thriller AND a real badass woman.  Excitement seemed like an appropriate feeling.  But in reality, it turns out that all the separate pieces, while most are strong alone, as whole, they did not come together very well. Sad.

Soderbergh is starting to worry me (I was seriously disappointed in Contagion too) because although the action sequences were good they were not anything special and the story was a bit…boring. This is not a new idea–trained spy becomes the hunted–and you have to bring something unique to the table.  (Sidenote: The music was strangely upbeat and happy–it did not match the feel of the movie–at all! Weird choice.)  The supporting cast was indeed good–everyone playing their parts well–but, again nothing special and no real stand outs.  The spy thriller part was weak and I did not appreciate the over explanation of things (I hate being spoon fed).  And the badass woman? 

Well, Gina Carano is an amazing fighter and the fight scenes are the best part of movie because they are heavy and real–no sound effects or glossy moves. I can believe that she kicks ass–she is solid and appears powerful–I like that, a lot.  But, as an actress?  Ms. Carano is NOT amazing and by surrounding her with good actors, it only helps to magnify her shortcomings.  She is almost like the Terminator–no emotions show on her face–but at least with the Terminator it was intentional.  I would hope that was not the case this time!

 Oh well!  Another one bites the dust–hard–just like one of Ms. Carano’s opponents!

Underworld Quadrilogy is a fun diversion with a solid mythology!

10 minutes of plot.  Maybe, 10 minutes of light emotional content. 70 minutes of blood, fangs, fur and decapitations!!  SWEET!  Sometimes you want mindless fun and Underworld delivers that in spades!  You should know already that I love vampires and monsters–so when you mix badass Lycans (Werewolves) and some serious Death Dealers (vampires that kill Lycans)–I am in gory, brainless action-packed heaven!

Before we went to the cinema to watch the latest installment–Underworld Awakening–we decided a marathon was in order.  It was a good idea for me because I have only seen each movie once–at the time of release–so it was a refresher course on the mythology that Len Wiseman has created and that is the strongest aspect of these movies.  The background story is solid and they are very consistent with all the details and you have to respect that in a genre that usually doesn’t care about those things. 

My favorite is number 3–Underworld Rise of the Lycans.  This one, to me, has the best story.  It is a prequel and features my 2 favorite characters–Lucian (Michael Sheen) and Viktor(Bill Nighy)–played by two incredible actors (obviously getting a paycheck and having a blast).  The rest is pretty much a showcase for cool effects, prosthetics (which is a dying art) and bloody deaths and there is nothing wrong with that.

And that leads me to what else I like about the Underworld universe–it makes no excuses for what it is–if you want high brow, intelligent film watching–THIS is not for you!  But if you want to spend 90 minutes in an adrenaline rushed atmosphere where Kate Beckinsdale is running around in a tight, shiny black outfit and kicking all sorts of ass!  Leave your brain at the door–grab some popcorn–and enjoy the ride!!  Bring on Underworld 5!