starring Kate Beckinsale, Scott Speedman, Shane Brolly, Michael Sheen
screenplay by Danny McBride
directed by Len Wiseman
by Walter Chaw Appearing to be based on two White Wolf role-playing games--"Vampire: The Masquerade" and "Werewolf: The Apocalypse"--introduced a while back (and indeed, the games company is suing Sony, Screen Gems, and Lakeshore for copyright infringement, citing no fewer than sixty points of unique similarity), Len Wiseman's Underworld may prove to be less "Romeo and Juliet" than much ado about nothing. The picture looks fantastic, Kate Beckinsale and Scott Speedman look fantastic, and that's pretty much all there is recommend about the piece, which is so boring, lifeless, and humourless that White Wolf would do well to distance itself from the thing toot sweet. This is gravid filmmaking at its worst, indulging in its twin cults' puerile wish-fulfillment fantasies with a sexless lust: the life of an immortal rock star in period garb thirsting for the blood of bullies for the one, of a raging man-beast thirsting for the blood of bullies for the other. In between are tons of rip-offs of everything from The Crow to The Matrix to the leather fetish and arms of Blade to the sweaty bodice-ripping of Anne Rice to the Alien3 wall-crawling monster views of David Fincher. Wiseman, in his hyphenate debut (he co-concocted the story), has scored big with a real-life engagement to the ethereally beautiful--and undernourished and anaemic--Kate Beckinsale, enough to take the sting out of the blah of Underworld, I'd surmise. And why not? Many would fail worse for less, but as a writer and director he proves himself to be a pretty good set designer.