Four Weeks of Horror: Underworld 3

by |
01/26/2009 4:45 PM |

Jesse Hassenger sees that third Underworld movie. Which stars Rhona Mitra. Who, like Imelda Staunton, should not be mistaken for Kate Beckinsale.

The actual title of Underworld 3 is Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, because Underworld has that B-team franchise insecurity wherein it seems to want to pretend that it’s not just crassly adding numerals to a proven title (see Resident Evil: Insurrection or whatever the next one will be called). Once again, I invite all of Hollywood to look to the Transporter series to see how it’s done: just slap that number on the sequel, and drop any definite articles while you’re at it. Fancy subtitle or not, the Underworld movies are still beloved by that dude who blind-buys three DVDs a week at Best Buy.

The most awesome thing about Underworld: Lycan Ascension is that it has long scenes where werewolves lay siege upon people and/or castles, and the main weapon used for defense is what I believe historians refer to as a megacrossbow.

The second most awesome thing about Underworld: Legend of the Lycan Dubloons is that it continues the second movie’s tradition of ditching the endless vampire council meetings that, no joke, made me fall nearly asleep during the first Underworld, which made my special lady friend even less happy about being dragged to see it.

The new movie has to jettison this stuff because it basically retells a lot of the vampire-werewolf hatred mythology that they explain to no great interest in the first movie. There are still vampire council meetings, but most of the good guys either aren’t allowed to attend, or are chastised for skipping them, which I think is the filmmakers’ way of saying: yeah, you know what, nobody likes these meetings.

It turns out that this big werewolf/vampire feud was caused by the ruling-class vampires enslaving the lycans, which I guess are an advanced race of werewolves, because the “regular” werewolves don’t seem to change back into people, and are repeatedly disparaged by even the lycans. But at one point (spoiler alert) (Seriously? –Ed.) a lycan/werewolf alliance is necessary, so I’m not really sure where the lycan leadership stands on the subject of werewolf rights. But I’ve learned one thing from watching the Underworld movies: vampires are assholes. And they just do not shut up.

The exception to the rule is always a hot chick who looks like Kate Beckinsale and is in love with a lycan. The least awesome thing about Underworld: Ultimate Werewolf Edition is that Kate Beckinsale isn’t in it, I assume because 2006’s Underworld: Evolution represented some kind of personal moment of clarity for her — either that did it, or playing Adam Sandler’s wife in Click. (Less believable: Kate as lower-middle-class waitress townie in Snow Angels or Kate married to Adam Sandler in any context? Discuss.) The filmmakers will tell you this is because the story was always planned out as a trilogy with a prequel as the final chapter. They will also use words like “epic” in the press notes. The director of the first two movies, who is married to Beckinsale, also stepped down (though he does have a producer and co-writing credit), probably because he had a moment of clarity during Underworld: Evolution, too, only it involved him realizing that rather than getting close to Kate Beckinsale by making an extremely silly vampire-werewolf blowout, he could just go home and have sex with her more or less anytime he wanted.

So because it’s a prequel, the Kate Beckinsalesque character — the vampire chick who defies her vampire father (Bill Nighy!) and aids the oppressed lycans — is played by Rhona Mitra, who was in a completely nutso movie from last year called Doomsday. Mitra is fine — really, all of these actors are far better than necessary — but I was disappointed to find that minus Beckinsale, the Underworld movies revert back to a male lead. Mitra has a few ass-kicking scenes, but she’s more of a plot element than a real heroine.

The third most awesome thing about Underworld: Vengeance of Everyone is that at least the male lead is freaking Michael Sheen — yeah, the guy who played Tony Blair and David Frost, playing a motherfucking badass werewolf, and he kind of pulls it off, bearing his chest and talking through oft-clenched teeth and having high-impact sex with Rhona Mitra on top the kind of tower where you should probably watch out for boiling oil. And not in a sexy way.

Have you maybe possibly gotten the tiniest hint yet that this movie is ridiculous? I can’t say it’s particularly well-made (though the effects are pretty good for something that I’m assuming had a pretty limited budget), but it is extremely fun to watch. Fuckloads of werewolves attack fuckloads of vampires, and they don’t use guns this time, either (stupid first Underworld movie). Despite the creatures, it’s barely a horror movie, except for the occasional decapitation; it’s really more of a low-grade medieval fantasy. In other words, it’s late January and it’s just what you need.*

* By “you,” I mean, you people who might’ve seen the trailer and tried to muffle that tiny fourteen-year-old voice that said “I want to see that.” You’ll have a good time. Horror fans, classic monster movie fans, regular film buffs… I don’t know if I can vouch for you. But you’ll probably watch it on cable sometime in 2011 and secretly enjoy it.