Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
The original Underworld, released six years ago, introduced a high-concept/low-excitement war between vampires in fetish gear and videogame-caliber werewolves — and "in the spirit of equanimity," someone wrote at the time, "the movie both sucks and bites." No such draw here: This deadly prequel explaining the roots of the bloodsucker-fangface grudge match is a 92-minute detainment in Sucksylvania. Like the first two movies, it's too glum and humorless to wring any fun from its dorky premise: At least seven-eighths of this one takes place in a dreary, monochromatic castle, and much of that is in a dungeon. Though he is chained up with other "lycan" slaves, werewolf messiah Lucian (Michael Sheen) pursues a love that dare not howl its name with vampire princess Sonja (Rhona Mitra), while her aristocratic dad, Viktor (Bill Nighy), skulks around like a Balkan Ming the Merciless. In lieu of advancing a story, the third Underworld repeats incessantly — multiple bloody floggings, multiple captures, multiple trudges back to the dungeon — while the cinematography does its best to evoke the many-hued visual splendor of an ashtray. Mincing around like a bored old glam rocker and hissing threats from behind neon eyes, Nighy seems to be the only person on set who found a glint of amusement in his part. He fares better than poor Sheen, a scraggly Wolverine who made a more credible vampire-slayer opposite Frank Langella's Nixon.
Get the Film Club Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.