A Vampires-and-Werewolves Dud

Fangs but No Thanks

Worst Don DeLillo adaptation, ever. Good vampire movies are really about sexual submission, good werewolf movies are really about sexual aggression. Len Wiseman's Underworld is a vampires-and-werewolves movie that's about neither. It takes a premise that should have made for primo goth froth—a clan of aristocratic vamps tries to quell a lycanthrope revolt—and renders it (forgive me) bloodless, even when the corn syrup flows by the gallon.
Beckinsale in trailer-riffic gunfight
photo: Egon Endrenyi
Beckinsale in trailer-riffic gunfight

Details

Underworld
Directed by Len Wiseman
Screen Gems, opens September 19

The production design is over the top and around the corner, the neo-Wachowskian gunfights are trailer-riffic, and if the knotty plot doesn't set a nation of Ain't It Cool-ers a-bloggin', the sight of Kate Beckinsale in a form-fitting vinyl catsuit undoubtedly will. But the Montague/Capulet sparks that are supposed to fly between Beckinsale's vampire assassin and a would-be werewolf (erstwhile Felicity hunk Scott Speedman, telegraphing Keanu Reevesian bewilderment) never do. Weisman's more interested in courtly backstabbing among neck-biters than he is in exploring why Nosferatu girls fall for Lon Chaney guys. The movie makes running with the children of the night look like a real drag—the decadent vampires don't do anything except smoke cigarettes, host cocktail parties, and pick unwieldy chunks of expository dialogue ("The awakening is only a few days off, and the house is in a state of unrest!") from between their fangs. Speedman's such a nonentity here I worried that the theater air-conditioning would blow him off the screen. Instead, he's upstaged by the city of Budapest, which turns in a bravura performance as a drippy, crumbling metropolis where everyone has an American accent but all the street signs appear to be in Hungarian.

 
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