Let’s see if the sequel is any better.

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I remember when this one came out in 2006. People weren’t sick to death of sequels and franchises hadn’t taken over Hollywood. Do you believe me? You shouldn’t. The whole remake/franchise fever thing has been around since talkies first aired. While we didn’t have as many juggernaut franchises, they were still around.

The big difference between franchises in the 00s (is that the term?) is that there was a lot more time between them aside from the Lord of the Rings. I think this is why people feel like there is more today than before.

Anyway, the second entry of the Underworld series picks up moments after the ending of the first. Selene and Michael are now on the run from Marcus, the sole remaining vampire lord, and must prevent him from freeing his werewolf brother, William.

Spoilers ahead.

My favorite part about this move is that they absolutely brick Craven in the first five minutes. I’m going to jump out on a limb and guess this was done because fans weren’t exactly into the Denny’s manager turned bad boy vampire vibe his character gave, so they offed him. Instead, we have Marcus as our principal antagonist, and he is much better suited to the role as he, you know, actually kills things.

My least favorite part about this movie is that they doubled down on weird narrative choices; including ret-conning a lot of the first entry and shoving in more and more lore. Once again, the stories not told seem to be more interesting than the one we are focusing on.

Further, this is yet another narrative where simple interpersonal communication would have ended the movie in minutes. Marcus needs Selene’s blood. She doesn’t know why… He could lie and just ask for some to unveil more of Victor’s treachery, and boom. Movie over.

What we end up with is a better paced (a thankfully 40 minutes shorter entry) story that has an interesting world built poorly. After watching this one I am now wondering if vampire films are a sort of puzzle that is often too hard to crack. Why aren’t there more decent ones?

The love story is forced and stupid. There is no chemistry between these two and it seems only put in to force a cheap emotional pull when we are meant to think Michael has died. Anyone who has seen a movie before knows what this about and it is just a dumb waste of time. Instead of more information about the cool war or crazy anger fueled werewolves we have to watch oddly artsy and completely absurd sex scenes. Apparently, the penis of a werewolf comes out of their knee. (Granted, this is still a more realistic sex scene than the one in The Snowman where neither character takes any of their clothes off…)

The film tries too hard to follow the franchise route where we have a new villain introduced and then killed off by the end. We didn’t have enough time to really understand Viktor in the first, and we certainly don’t get enough Marcus in the second. This was the last Underworld film I saw in theaters, but really, where can the series logically go from here? What should have been the end point of a franchise (the big bad first vampire) ends up being burned through before this one could even get off the ground.

For a sleepy day action flick, this one doesn’t fail entirely. I think there are just enough good ideas present to keep things from going completely off the wheels. While action fans might forgive sloppy narrative choices, the hacksaw cut fight scenes may drive them away. The film has the look of a sharp experience, but this look fades once things start to move.

I think I would call this catch and release cinema. You won’t hate watching it, but you’ll leave it behind quickly once the credits roll. The only thing that lingers is the frustration of how much better this series could have been.

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