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 Underworldis 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

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 Felicityhunk 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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